By Tony Attwood
Fifa is anticipating that the revenues from the next world cup will be above $11 billion spread across the next four years. That is up 46% on this world cup.
Everyone who has spoken in favour of this world cup, followed it on TV, read about it in a positive promotional newspaper or blog article, has contributed to this situation.
As the corruption stories about the current world cup start to emerge, along with the arrests, we all know that the big players have got away with it. Fifa is richer, and so is everyone associated with it. Football, now forever tainted by its association with the discriminatory state, is very much the poorer.
Next time it is 48 teams, and goodness knows what bonkers speech Infantino will come up with in four years. “Today I feel Martian, I feel Venusian, I feel like a whale, I am a walrus…” Anything is possible.
The TV companies will pay up. The advertising will expand. Everyone will be brought into the fold, apart from that tiny minority of us who think that the whole thing is a) obscene, and b) quite probably fixed. Fifa will continue to grow, as will its corruption.
Infantino has said of the next world cup, “We are convinced that the impact will be enormous, as it has been in Qatar, with three great countries (USA, Canada, Mexico) 48 teams, more matches…
“Revenues will go up in terms of broadcasting, sponsors, and hospitality. We will play in huge stadiums usually dedicated to American football, with capacities of 80,000 to 90,000 seats.” 104 matches in total. The cost to our broadcasters will be enormous, reducing their ability to spend money on other programmes.
Infantino also announced a fund for migrant workers, which will “probably be a percentage of the profits of the World Cup”, and above all “which will be open to all those who want to invest in it”. In other words he is saying, “OK you have moral values, you are concerned about the deaths of migrant workers in building these stadia, get involved, make change happen, give us your money.”
And any sensible person will reply, “Under the auspices of Fifa? No thank you.”
So an event that began with the bonkers slow sentences of “Today, I feel Qatari; I feel Arab; I feel African; I feel gay; I feel handicapped; I feel like a migrant worker,” draws to a close with obscene amounts of money made by Fifa, and no progress made on the rights of the men who built the stadia.
Meanwhile, Infantino will probably continue to live in Qatar, because he risks immediate arrest if he returns to Switzerland.
He promised a carbon-neutral world cup and as it has failed to arrive he added, “With what Europe has done to the world for the past 3,000 years, it should start by apologizing for 3,000 years before giving lessons to anyone.”
Asking the question, “Who cares about migrant workers?” he answered, “FIFA, football, and let’s be clear: Qatar too,” because Qatar “offers legal opportunities to work for migrants who want it”, apparently unlike Europe “which closes its borders.”
So now we have the main Fifa theme. The west treats migrant workers badly, but thankfully the great goodness that is Fifa is there to rescue the west and repair the damage that it does. And the western media, by buying into the world cup wholesale, support this message.
“Fifa is not the United Nations. It is not the world police. Not blue helmets,” he told the concluding press conference before the last two games are played. As he has said throughout, he wanted to “focus on football”, and the media, particularly in the UK, went along with that and let him have his way.
Quite what Switzerland will do to him if he returns, is another matter. He is wanted for corrupting the legal system of the country by having secretive meetings with the head of the Swiss legal system – that might be an appointment he might find himself too busy to keep.
Meanwhile the mass media in England (I can’t speak for elsewhere as I’ve only been in England during the whole event) lapped up every second of it, and by and large forgot about the deaths of migrant workers, the lack of rights for women and religious groups, and the rest.
They have universally supported Fifa and Infantino, and they will undoubtedly do the same again in four years’ time. Untold stood apart, and of course, that lost us a lot of readers. But I still think it was a good thing to do.
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