When FIFA awarded the 2018 World Cup to Russia and the 2022 tournament to Qatar in favour of England and the United States it was a statement that resonated way beyond the confines of the world¹s football grounds and into the geopolitical sphere.
What defines a nation’s football status? Is it the senior-international trophies it has historically won? The depth of its leagues? Its grassroots participation? The quality of its top division, perhaps? Or is it the quality of its national stadium?
“Connectivity will be an enabler. Transparency for better government, education, and health.” Bill Gates
Eighteen months and 430 pages have gone into Michael Garcia’s report for the FIFA ethics committee into the 2018 and 2022 World Cup bidding, and there have been acres more pages of newsprint produced on the back of it. It was the highest-profile measure to emerge from the Independent Governance Committee’s strategic review of FIFA’s operations.
“When his heart was lifted up, and his spirit was hardened in pride, he was deposed from his kingly throne, and they took his glory from him.” Daniel 5:20, the King James Bible
“Working hard all your life is a talent.” Ryan Giggs
Greg Dyke last week issued the second instalment of his Football Association Chairman’s Commission report and there were a number of welcome developments contained within.
Scotland goes to the polls today to decide whether to break with the most successful political union in the history of the world. England and Scotland have been bound in statutory togetherness since March 1, 1707. Yet a decision to end that economic and political union – so powerful that it once dominated the globe in an age of empire – could come within the next 24 hours.
“C’est bien facile d’être bon, le malaisé c’est d’être juste.” Victor Hugo, Les Misérables
Financial Fair Play has posed football’s regulators with a quandary that Victor Hugo would no doubt quickly have recognised. When making the law it’s dead easy to be good; the hard part is being fair.
“To be brave, by definition, one has first to be afraid.” Robert Harris, Pompeii
There is no questioning the boldness of Premier League clubs’ activity in the transfer market this summer. The £835 million (€1.049 billion) in gross spending on new players exceeded the gross domestic product of San Marino or Gibraltar. When I wrote here three months ago that a financial volcano was primed to erupt in English football,
“Hail, thou that art highly favoured… blessed art thou.” Archangel Gabriel to Mary; Luke 1:28
It has been a purgatorial 12 months or so for Manchester United. So if you are a supporter of theirs it must be tempting to look to a man named Angel Di María as some sort of celestial deliverer for your club. Sure, one Angel does not make a host but it should not be too hard for a £59.7 million player of his quality to make an impact.
“It used to be the norm for people in their early thirties to set up a home of their own, but sadly being ‘priced out’ is rapidly becoming the new norm.” David Orr, UK National Housing Federation
You might think it odd that a football business-to-business column would focus on the UK housing market but there is a lot it can tell us about our game. Not because of what we can learn about club incomes,
“The dealings of my trade were but a drop of water in the comprehensive ocean of my business.” Jacob Marley’s ghost – A Christmas Carol, Charles Dickens
In the century-and-a-half since its inception, football has crossed every ocean and taken root in nearly every corner of the globe. It truly is a marvellous business, its success eclipsing almost all of its Victorian contemporaries, surviving the wars and the many technological innovations that put paid to so many once-thriving concerns of the former British empire.
“Our properties within our own territories [should not] be taxed or regulated by any power on earth but our own.” Thomas Jefferson
Conflict, throughout the course of human history, has taken on many forms. But whether it be the bronze swords and spears of Homer’s Iliad, the muskets of Jefferson’s American War of Independence or the rockets, bombs and drones of today, some things have been constant.
One constant is the continuous presence of the narrators of current affairs,
“The strongest of all warriors are these two – Time and Patience.” War and Peace, Leo Tolstoy
Threaded within a fabulously entertaining Napoleonic soap opera, Leo Tolstoy’s masterwork properly explores the human condition. In short, the greatest of all the Russians tells us, if you think you have any free will of your own you are very much mistaken.
Tolstoy conveys that we mortals are swept along by predetermined currents towards outcomes preordained.
“Everyone loves a conspiracy.” The Da Vinci Code, Dan Brown
With more than 200 million copies of his novels in print, it turns out the Da Vinci Code author Dan Brown had a point. There is something thrilling to be found in the hidden truth that only the beholder can see.
In football it has many guises: from the ‘in-the-know’ reporter or supporter who purveys gossip about a club’s transfer activity,
“The fire of God fell from heaven and burned up the sheep and the servants, and consumed them.” Job 1:16, King James Bible
It is very unlikely that, 4,000-odd years ago when Job is said to have walked this earth, there was any such a thing as insurance. Even if there was, and even if the old boy had kept up with his premiums, his sheep and his servants might still not have been covered anyway.
“How does it feel to have a trillion dollars burning a hole in your pocket?” Andrew Blackman, the Wall Street Journal
Not since the conquistadors discovered Potosí, Bolivia’s famed silver-ore mountain and “Cerro Rico”, has anyone known the answer to the question Blackman rhetorically posed this week. But with the data-cruncher Prequin estimating that private-equity firms now hold $1.141 trillion in investible funds, the managed-investment arm of the financial-services industry seems to have a fair idea.