By Walter Broeckx
In the so called WC-Bid book that has been finally made public that Belgium and Holland have put together for the organisation of the Fifa World Cup 2018 we can find some very strange things. It seems that our former government in Belgium has agreed with all the privileges that Fifa would receive and now some members of parliament who have read this bid book came to some strange conclusions.
In short you could tell that the governments in Belgium and Holland would sink down on their knees to Fifa and hand them what they want. So let us take a look at what Joe Average (meaning me and some other 27 million people in Belgium and Holland) will be facing.
In our countries we have a big problem with the traffic and specifically around the big towns like Amsterdam, Antwerp, Brussels, Rotterdam just to name a few. When we have to go to these cities we find it almost normal that we have to face some kind of delay on the highways and other roads leading to these cities. Now the guys on top of Fifa cannot stand the thought of standing in the same line waiting for the traffic to restart next or behind Joe Average.
So Fifa will get the privilege of having their own lane on the roads to the stadiums.
An own lane can be made in two ways. One is for the government to build an extension of the existing highways and makes them wider. But as far as I know the situation in Belgium there is no possibility to do this on most of the highways as they have reached about the maximum width they can have. So the obvious solution will be in that case: shut down one lane for all the regular traffic and keep one lane free for a Mr. Blatter or a Mr. Warner to be driven to the stadiums or whatever destination they are heading for. And we as Joe Average, we will just lose one lane and have to crawl further on 2 lanes instead of the normal 3 lanes. So Joe Average will face a traffic jam almost double as long just to be sure that Mr. Blatter doesn’t come late on where he wants to be.
Every day we hear economists telling us how much money those traffic jam cost society and just to please Fifa we are going to double them for a month.
Ambush marketing will be forbidden. We have seen how far this can go in South Africa where people got arrested for wearing wrong cloths and where Dutch fans had to remove their caps (which were given by the sponsor of the Dutch team but who’s not an official partner of Fifa) before they were allowed to enter the stadiums.
And in a area of 2 km (let us say 1 mile) around the stadiums all advertisement boards have to be removed. In that area only the official partners of Fifa are allowed to advertise. Now I’m not going to name those companies in this article but this is ridiculous if you ask me. Let us suppose that the Emirates would be one of the stadiums that has games played in it. This rule would mean that if there is a Burger King in that 1 mile area it will have to remove its name from its restaurant. If they would sell pepsi cola in it or any advertisement for pepsi in that area will have to be removed on Fifa’s order.
A car retailer would have to remove its name from its own showroom because one of the fifa partners is another car company. To give you an absolute ridiculous example is in Amsterdam where the Ajax Arena has as one of its neighbours the Heineken Music Hall. It is standing some 200 meters from the stadium and the name Heineken is the beer company that is doing the exploitation. I just have been there last month to see an excellent concert of Mark Knopfler so I know how close it is standing to the stadium. So this Music hall may be obliged to change its name during the world cup.
Could you imagine that if we take the Emirates half of Holloway road shop owners would have to remove some kind of advertisement boards just to please Fifa?
And the thing that has annoyed the public most of all is the fact that Fifa will not have to pay one eurocent in taxes. In Belgium we have the privilege (this is meant to be sarcastic) to be in the top 3 of countries with the highest tax burden. We are used to a tax regime that in general means that of every 100 euro we earn some 50 euro goes to some kind of tax. And how much tax will Fifa have to pay? Nothing, nil, niets, noppes, rien, nichts, nada, niente.
If Fifa would have to pay the rates we as Joe Average have to pay it would mean that Fifa would have to pay half of its profit back in the form of tax. But our government, who are dealing with the consequences of the financial and economical crisis and who are telling us that we will have to pay even more tax, just tells Fifa: you don’t have to pay a thing and take all the money with you to Switzerland and use it as you like it. In other words: Fifa, take the money and run.
And also for other taxes like VAT:Fifa will not have to pay them. If Joe Average books a hotel and has to pay 50 euro for a night he pays some 10 euro VAT on this. But if Sepp Blatter books a hotel and has to pay 500 euro he will have to pay no VAT. It should be 100 euro but it will be nil euro for mr. Blatter and the rest of his company.
People who have made some calculations and who estimate that the total profit for Fifa of the world cup 2010 was around 1,5 billion this would mean that the Belgium and Dutch government would lose some 750 million or even 1 billion on taxes and VAT.
And who will be paying the bill for Blatter, Warner and company? It will be this Joe Average who is already facing 50 % of taxes.
I really am interested in the case if Belgium and Holland would get the world cup organisation that these kind of benefits will not be dragged in to court and be forbidden because of it being a violation of equality between different people and organisations. Other sporting organisations must pay tax, other sporting organisations must pay VAT. So why make an exception for Fifa?
So it would be interesting to see what privileges the UK is wanting to give to Fifa in exchange of the World cup. And it would be interesting to hear if those privileges are supported by the government who, if I’m not mistaken, is also calling on the citizens to help the country to survive the economical and financial crisis.
Farmer, watch your geese is a Dutch idiom which means we have to be careful and keep an eye on those things as the fox called Fifa is around the house. Before we know it, we as citizens are the ones that will be suffering for years to come and that all just to give some big heads like Blatter, Warner and others the feeling that they rule the world, to give them some kind of power orgasm.
And if I look at the public’s reactions on the internet since this has come in the open, some 90 % of the people don’t want to give these privileges to Blatter and Co. They tell Fifa : Fick Fufa.