By Tony Attwood
Travelling to Australia is exciting, is a pain, is a back ache, is lost sleep, is wondering if they are going to let me into the country with my supply of herbal tea bags (they did) and for me most of all is one long long hug with my youngest daughter on finally getting through customs etc.
And then getting used to being upside down, and having the middle of the day in the middle of the night and all that stuff. And the fact that my daughter Heather has moved since I was last here and now has an apartment overlooking Sydney harbour on the Manley side of things.
But a quick flip around the internet shows nothing much has changed in football. Shock horror they’ve awarded the world cup to Qatar and everyone is going to die of heat exhaustion, and the British Prime Minister says, never mind, I know we only got two votes but we don’t bear you a grudge Fifa. We’ll sort it out.
What is good, it seems to me, is looking at the newspapers on line when not in the rush of everyday life is the chance to cogitate where things are going. The New York Daily News speaks of “the corrupt and corpulent Chuck Blazer, once the sport’s No1 powerbroker in the United States spent $29 million in credit card charges to help fuel his extravagant lifestyle, which included a pricey Trump Tower apartment for his cats.”
We knew about Blazer of course, but it is still just, well, obscene.
And overall there is something desperately sad that we are still considering the Qatar issue, or indeed come to that the Fifa issue. But that’s what is going on as the media argue among themselves whether a world cup in November is viable.
The problem is of course that the media is so used to bowing down to Fifa by buying into the world cup rights and pushing international football as if it matters, that they have to take the whole thing seriously.
And this makes me realise that once again the whole thing is an issue of perspective. If you start from a perspective that says that Fifa is a corrupt, criminal, racist gang the members of which have successfully got the football associations of the world to buy into their appalling activities through giving the media junkets, then you get one view. If you start from the perspective that Fifa activities like the world cup are actually important, then that gives you a different view.
Which somehow (probably the jet lag) brings me back to my trip to Oz. For the first time I flew Emirates, feeling I should do something to show my recognition (at least to myself, for I am not saying anyone else would notice) that they had pulled their sponsorship of Fifa. Unfortunately I didn’t think they were very good. The £10 discount for being an Arsenal season ticket holder was insulting, the stop-over in Dubai was a mess (the flight in was late, the check in and out halls were hopelessly overcrowded, the signs were inadquate and most worrying the hand luggage checkers looked like people who had seen how slack the bag checking is at the Emirates Stadium and thought that was the way to do it, rather than the exact reverse.
On the flights the food was awful, the service was slow, the wine to have with the meal arrived 10 minutes after the meal was finished, the range of drinks was very limited, the choice of food was rubbish, and everything points to me moving back to Quatas for the next trip. Sorry Emirates, I gave you a chance, but that was just terrible.
But look, what of this? The Guardian is actually considering backing the campaign to have a mass rebellion against Fifa and “a World Cup that is built around corruption, myths and lies.” Wow. Untold ahead of the game. Who’d have thought so.
However there is still fun to be had. David Cameron (a British Prime Minister) says he is going to offer British experts to help build stadiums for the Qatari world cup.
“Qatar is known for its employment of immigrants paid the most appalling salaries while the fat cats around them get fatter, so I think Britain and Qatar are natural allies,” said the PM. OK actually he didn’t, but he probably thought it. Although it is good to hide such thinking behind the usual blah blah of politics.
Labour, the largest party in the UK parliament, at least until next year, has suggested that the bidding war should be re-fought for 2022. That doesn’t get my vote. But at least Labour has said of Qatar that it has “criminalised homosexuality and the drinking of alcohol, and is accused of widespread human rights abuses.”
The Prime Minister’s Official Spokesman said where the fiasco was to be held was a decision for FIFA.
In reality it is a decision for us. If we don’t watch world cup matches either in person or on TV the TV companies that bid for the rights will quickly drop the project, and that will be that. In the end it is in our hands.
Oh and there is one other thing. Apparently in the House of Commons it was announced that some of the money due to be paid to British firms for building stadia in Qatar has ended up in “the hands of the Islamic extremists in Syria.” That’s in the Telegraph.
In the end all we have to do is just say no.
Untold Arsenal is here. where you can also find details of the three Arsenal books we’ve published.
- Are Arsenal really making progress, or are we starting to slip back?
- Luton 3 Arsenal 4: maybe it is time to say positive things
- Luton v Arsenal – the referee, the team, Saka and Cliff Bastin
- Luton Town – how do they play the game. The tackles, fouls and cards.
- Luton Town v Arsenal: Grim football, fewest goals, lowest possession rate