Democracy, transparency, human rights? – No thanks, we are FIFA.

“I was surprised that other countries even dared to compete with us. I hope they won’t repeat that mistake in 2018.”

Although I live in England, I am actually not sad about this country missing out on the opportunity to host another Football World Cup. Living in London, I am already annoyed with the daily dose of tourists, and I am dreading the prospects of the Olympics coming to town in 2 years. I certainly don’t need another global event that hikes up prices and overburdens public transport. I am also not convinced that host countries benefit economically from events like the World Cup or the Olympics.

But I was still a bit surprised by FIFA’s choice of Russia and Qatar as the two countries to host the Football World Cups in 2018 and 2022 respectively:

The candidates for 2018 were England, the Netherlands and Belgium with a joint bid, Spain and Portugal with a joint bid, and Russia. Five countries that are stable, peaceful democracies where the world could feel welcome in open societies with respect for human rights – and one country that is an autocracy at best and a mafia state at worst, where independent journalists routinely are targets of assassinations, where Stalinism is glorified, and a country that was engaged in a war with a neighbouring country just two years ago.

Given this choice, FIFA decided that Russia was the best place to do business to play football.

As if that had not been provocative enough, FIFA also already made the decision for the

“What did we win?”

2022 World Cup: Contestants were Australia, the USA, South Korea, Japan and Qatar. Four modern democracies with equal rights for their citizens – and one emirate without elections, where political parties are banned and members of “parliament” are all appointed by the Emir (who is not accountable to anyone). In February of this year, Qatar entered into a defence cooperation with Iran.

A tough choice, but FIFA thought that Qatar was the safest place to hide from an inquisitive press looking into FIFA corruption to play football.

Looking for a pattern here, this is what you have to consider if you are thinking of competing for the 2026 World Cup:

  • The less freedom, the better.
  • The more natural resources, the better.
  • The less democracy, the better.
  • The more authoritarian rule, the better.
  • The less freedom of speech, the better. (In the Press Freedom Index, Qatar is number 121 and Russia number 140, compared with an average of 23 among the competitor nations.)
  • Experience of football is irrelevant.

Sepp Blatter must be dreaming of an oil-rich country ruled by Nazis… But for 2026, maybe Iran or Zimbabwe will do.

About Andreas Moser

Travelling the world and writing about it. I have degrees in law and philosophy, but I'd much rather be a journalist, a spy or a hobo.
This entry was posted in Human Rights, Politics, Russia, Sports and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

8 Responses to Democracy, transparency, human rights? – No thanks, we are FIFA.

  1. John Erickson says:

    But Andreas, haven’t you heard? The world ends on 21 December 2012, so the World Cup selections are null and void! And it absolutely MUST end then, ’cause if it doesn’t, I have to turn 50 a couple days later. And I will NOT let myself be an old man!
    Seriously, you missed one key point for selection. The ability to generate an appeal film, filled with cutting-edge CGI effects, depicting beautiful sports complexes where there is currently absolutely nothing. The Russian film was great – a non-existent train carrying people from non-existent hotels to non-existent arenas. Haven’t seen so many special effects since Star Wars was last on TV……

  2. Martin Palazzotto says:

    Would you like a litany of the political partnerships, covert assasinations, criminal enterprises and human rights violations that have been and are still being conducted by ‘free’ nations like the UK and US?

    Rather convenient how after leaking sensitive documents which put those governments in a poor light, Julian Assange is suddenly branded a sex offender.

    No system is perfect, my friend. Maybe by practicing a politic of inclusion rather than placing embargoes and trade restrictions on those whose policies are not in line with ours, FIFA may make some headway where the more self-righteous have failed.

    Btw, you could easily substitute George W. Bush into that top photo, had circumstances been different.

  3. After all the discordant bidding flawed with too much of sleaze and illegitimate deal making, Russia and the Gulf State of Qatar were given the opportunity of hosting the 2018 and 2022 FIFA World Cup.

    The conclusion of the highly frenzied lobbying saw world football ultimate Sepp Blatter revealing the winners after a clandestine ballot of 22 FIFA executive committee members in Zurich.

  4. Mo says:

    Hi Andreas,
    I really like the way u are analyzing the decisions from FIFA. I want to confirm your words about Russia. About Qatar, They are ppl of means..They are very rich…too too rich..to buy media..buy Sepp Blatter himself and I think his price is not the highest in this small world…I must confess that I have no understanding for the policital attitude of Qatar towards many political conflicts. I guess u had an experince with Aljazeera..did u enjoyed meeting the ppl from Qatar?
    I can say…where oil is being pumped..football can be played as well.

  5. Peace says:

    hi man
    great idea from your political view.somehow i agree with you and i hope they bring peace to region by sport.because sports don’t propose prides extremely as religoin do.and they have put their finger on middle-east region to disturb unity of region.
    We must try not to ban it and we can do by sport. sport is invincible deal ;)
    Dont forget to put your idea in our Website
    Best

  6. Pingback: London Olympics vs. Human Rights | The Happy Hermit

  7. Pingback: FIFA Football World Cup in Qatar 2022: the Scorecard | The Happy Hermit

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