By Tony Attwood
The news that Sepp Blatter has been accused by Hope Solo, the USA women’s football team goalkeeper, of having sexually assaulted her at Fifa’s Ballon d’Or awards ceremony in January 2013 doesn’t really come as much of a surprise, simply because nothing comes as much of a surprise with Blatter. Or come to that Fifa.
Ms Solo said, “For the past few days, I have been thinking about all the uncomfortable situations myself and/or my team-mates have experienced throughout the years with trainers, doctors, coaches, executives and even team-mates. From inappropriate comments, unwanted advances and grabs of the ass to coaches and even press officers speaking about players’ tits and physical appearance, sexual harassment is rampant in the sports world. I always felt I’d handled it and stood up for myself in those situations, but there were never any consequences for the perpetrators. That needs to change. Silence will not change the world!”
Absolutely true, silence never changes the world. But that is what football mostly engages in – an eternal silence.
The number of stories about Fifa and its staff which suggest the organisation is bent from top to bottom is so enormous I could fill Untold three times a day every day writing about them, and yet mostly they get ignored by the wider media.
Let me offer you this from the Guardian – it is not a historic report from months or years ago – all I had to do was look at this morning’s newspaper.
“A 10-month effort to find out how a Briton was killed while building Qatar’s Khalifa stadium for the World Cup has been met with a wall of silence from the Qatari authorities and multinational building contractors, leaving his relatives distraught and angry.
“Zac Cox died in January after he fell 40 metres when his safety equipment failed. His family have been told that a report containing vital information about the circumstances of his death exists, but it has not been passed on to them or the British coroner investigating his death.
“This week, the coroner lambasted the family’s treatment, which raises questions about how much the Foreign Office has done to force Qatari authorities to explain the reasons for Cox’s death.”
Leaving aside the notion of whether it would be wise to get the Foreign Office under Boris Johnson given what he has just done in the Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe affair, it is clear that the British Foreign Office these days doesn’t want to do anything much. Which is another story that could with being connected up.
And if that were not enough I ran another story about Fifa corruption on the first of this month, which I don’t think has been covered much, if at all, in the media. Chair of PSG accused of wholesale corruption – but it is not reported in the British media
At least the death of Zac Cox gets a mention, and one can only feel for his family, and for the family of Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe – but no one seems to want to put these stories together to look for patterns and then start a push for action. By which I mean if accusations of sexual harassment, wholesale financial corruption and the refusal to release information about a British citizen’s death working on a world cup stadium, all coming out within a couple of weeks of each other is not enough for people to ask “why are we part of this organisation?” then the message is clear. We will never do anything about Fifa, ever. No matter what. We know huge swathes of their hierarchy have been charged or are under investigation by agencies in Switzerland and the USA, but still nothing is done about Britain’s daily engagement with the organisation.
And one reason big reason is that the essence of football is “now”, this moment. There is an extension backwards to the last game, but not much more than that. So issues rise and fall, but everything is temporary. And in a world like that there is no concerted action.
To take this into another zone consider this headline:
Furious Corry Evans says penalty decision was ‘even worse than the Thierry Henry v Ireland handball’
In one sense you might say that this disproves my argument, because it takes in not only Ireland’s last game, but an earlier world cup match in which there was what many called another outrageous decision.
But the connection stops there, largely because when it comes to football, as increasingly in life I guess, people have an absolute horror of asking “is there some connection?” or “why are these referees so awful?”
Not too many publications put these questions up for discussion. And indeed we get lots of people writing to Untold tell us to stop writing about referees. I don’t publish them, by and large, but we do get a lot.
Indeed a prime reason why I do keep publishing the headlines from newspapers and bloggettas is to highlight this lunatic short termism that now is what passes for discussion in football. Just take a look at the headlines this morning.
- Man United should swoop in January and end this Arsenal man’s misery at the Emirates
- This Crystal Palace star needs to jump ship and make a move to Arsene Wenger’s Arsenal
- Juventus linked with Bellerin transfer
- Arsenal keen on Bobby Duncan
- Are Arsenal keen on Bobby Duncan?
Actually I want to pause at that one because both of those Bobby Duncan stories came from the same source: ESPN which at least brings a little light relief to the point.
But really, in the end “Why?” is what forces us to look back into the past and find evidence and this is what increasingly people don’t seem to want to do.
I am reminded of the gent who wrote to this site recently demanding that I provide evidence to support my view that PGMO is alone in Europe’s in having such a small number of referees available. There is a whole article on that very subject on Untold with a complete statistical analysis, which the correspondent could have looked up if he wanted, but he chose instead to berate me for not providing evidence.
Maybe that is why people don’t ask why any more. It is just too much like hard work.
- Stop, don’t move. There’s a new player we are going to sign. Honest it’s true. Or so I am told
- How to knock the Arsenal without bothering to check a single fact
- Fake News Index: Ozil staying, Wilshere to Palace for the sake of the country, Wenger grip loss.
- Arsenal the most penalised by refs among the current top four teams
- Mykhaylo Mudryk now listed in 17 different articles as coming to Arsenal!
- Arsenal attacking problems… what attacking problems?
- Men’s football returns at last: Arsenal in action this afternoon
- Is the injury to Gabriel Jesus equivalent to the assault on Eduardo in 2008?