Fifa, US prosecutors and hope for the game


I love the Olympics: athletics, obviously, but there is always excitement to be found in a sport you know nothing about.  Last year I watched more skateboarders than I’d be prepared to count (they fall off often, so there’s actual jeopardy).  But still, it is not the World Cup.

Watching most of the world’s greatest players, often for small nations while team-mates with relative journeymen, the dazzling and packed stadiums, it is a joy.  For the final time, we will see Lionel try to give Argentinians what Deigo delivered in ’86.  The Greatest will fail again.  Ronaldo will bring the circus and produce the final evidence of his fading talent.

Will Neymar roll around the turf after a marginal altercation?  You would be disappointed otherwise.  Belgium will again have everyone wondering why they have the second highest Fifa coefficient.  England will ‘England it’.  I would like a European winner, France or Spain, it’s all the same, and Europeans to win whenever facing others.  The more European win, the more future places go to Europe.  This way, those of us in small Euro nations can aspire to be back in the big time one day.

The anticipation ahead of this tournament, which starts on Sunday, is not what it has been previously.  Qatar has given itself an expensive interrogation which has become more intense as the tournament approaches.  A Danish TV reporter’s broadcast became a worldwide event as he was harassed during an innocuous piece.  If you were Qatari, you would be entitled to ask if sportswashing was real, of just snake oil sold by elite PR agents.

Fifa president Gianni Infantino was not in place when the vote to award this and the 2018 tournament, which went to Russia, was made, that privilege went to now disgraced Sepp Blatter.  Blatter was a kind of genius who understood democracy better than most.  All votes count and a proliferation of the franchise among small nations, who could benefit from Fifa largesse, meant that while most of the money was still generated in Europe, power shifted away.

Despite offending many within the game, Infantino is now confirmed as the only name on the ballot when the Association determines who will be president next time.  There is no point in running against him as there is no prospect of him losing.

The USA is the main host in four years, alongside Mexico and Canada, a win for CONCACAF (the Confederation of North, Central American and Caribbean Association Football).  It was American prosecutors who opened the lid on Fifa scandals in 2015, European national associations complained of corruption, but their governments did nothing.

The scrutiny of Qatar that has built over the last four years will hopefully turn on football itself ahead of World Cup 2026.  US prosecutors are hopefully not finished with the beautiful game.


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  1. To be honest I’m not looking forward to this World Cup. For the ridiculous and criminal award in the first place. To a country that treats all sorts of people terribly, least of all its immigrant workers and not just in construction, where so many lost their lives. Also for me the World Cup and increasingly the Euros where there will be more teams competing and more rubbish matches, it only really starts in the knockout stages. And only then if a team goes for it (Ange style?) otherwise it’s just a month long bore fest while we wait for the bhoys to play again in December.

  2. Fifa, Uefa, SFA, SPFL to name but a few are Gentlemen’s clubs corrupt to the core and if we had any morals would have nothing to do with them but we don’t so we will still turn up, pay for our tickets and tune in to watch on the TV.

  3. LEFTCLICKTIC and Vale Bhoy



    Just home from sales conference in Florida and woke up to snow in Louisville. I was 5 mins drive from Trumps house while down there was tempted to ……

  4. A dilemma: Set the alarm clock for the Everton game or just get a bigger cargo and stay up .



    HH our journey continues.

  5. ‘GREENPINATA on 18TH NOVEMBER 2022 12:21 PM


    Is this the least anticipated world Cup ever ??’



    It certainly is by me. I think it unlikely I will watch any game in its entirety. Curiosity will mean I`ll have a look at Brazil and maybe wee bit of the Final. In both cases, I doubt I will go the distance.

  6. Andy Patons Mullet on

    I am praying that every game is played in front of a near empty stadiums. This WC is another example of money having no conscience. FIFA have blood on their hands and I hope that much like the SFA VAR nonsense, this is the beginning of the end for them. Doubtful, but we live in hope.

  7. My money’s on Argentina.



    I’m retired.



    I’m a football fanatic.



    I’ll be watching every day.

  8. MODERATOR1888 @ 10:46 AM,



    I thought they fell out as rodgers was looking to go to china on big bucks and wanted Dembele to go with him



    Hence the snake comments to the support



    Yes, this was the smoke and mirrors that was “leaked” by the Board to certain social media outlets.



    Along with the SMSM campaign, about “Fraudgers” night flit.



    It was of course nonsense, though as emotions were running high the negative PR on BR was sucked up by many.



    The facts were quite different and if you think about it logically had to be.



    The example you cite – DD has stated BR came to him at the time and told him he had been approached by China, one of several approaches made while he was manager of Celtic.



    BR could not have taken Moussa Dembele with him, he was contracted to Celtic who would have had the final say on if and when he went and how much for.



    Of course it was said the Chinese wanted to pay £30M for DM, no one has adequately explained to me why the Board was so insulted by this proposal.



    It is of course smoke and mirrors through chinese walls…



    Hail Hail

  9. Apart from all the other issues that have been trumpeted (rightly), I can’t help thinking that it’s ridiculous that league football only stopped 5 days ago and the WC starts on Sunday.



    Normally, there’s a month’s worth of anticipation.

  10. bournesouprecipe on




    1. It kills the flow of the game



    Football is known as “the beautiful game” and it’s for good reason. No other major sport has the same free-flowing, uninterrupted build-up to a game-changing goal like football has. We want the least amount of time possible wasted by distractions, but that is exactly what VAR brings.



    When it was introduced, we were told that the time spent on VAR would be minimal, but we have learned that is not the case. Often it takes a solid minute or two (sometimes 3) of standing around looking at the referee with either his hand on his ear or by a TV on the sidelines before we get a decision.



    It completely kills the flow of the game and it will happen more and more frequently as we continue to use VAR. More on that later. It doesn’t only kill the flow of the game:



    2. It kills the atmosphere too



    The main difference between football and American sports is the atmosphere. In sports like American Football and Basketball, the constant breaks mean that in order to keep up the energy and noise, there has to be a lot of “in-game ops” while the action is on pause.



    Music is constantly played on the PA system, there are t-shirt cannons and loudmouth announcers yammer on about some product for some sponsored segment. This won’t fly over here in Europe. It would be the death of the match day experience we know and love.



    The best way to get an American to start liking football is by taking him/her to a match. There’s nothing like the atmosphere in a football stadium, with continuous singing, chants and groans of either elation or despair. There’s nothing fake or forced about it, it flows naturally – just like the game on the pitch – and there is almost never a dull moment. Then along comes VAR to break up the action for a couple of minutes, killing the mood because:



    3. It is really confusing for the fans in attendance



    There’s simply no way of telling what the refs are thinking about a lot of the time. Rochdale vs Tottenham on Wednesday night was very confusing for everyone who saw the match on TV. But at least for us watching at home, we had the benefit of getting plenty of replays from every angle and commentators trying to figure out what the refs were thinking along with us.



    Now imagine what it must have felt like for the fans in attendance. No replays, no way of knowing what had happened or what VAR had (sometimes incorrectly mind you) spotted. On top of that, it was freezing cold and everyone wanted to get on with the game. How discouraging must it have been for Tottenham fans to celebrate a goal, only for it to be taken back away from them? Not only do you get a lead and then lose it, but it affects how you react going forward.



    4. You won’t be able to fully appreciate every goal



    If you’re the type of person like me who contains your excitement when a goal is scored after a tight offside decision, think about what it must feel like after VAR is introduced.



    At least with offside decisions before VAR, it only takes you a second to look over to the sideline and see if the linesman’s flag is raised. With VAR, you will not know if a goal has been given until the referee puts his hand up to his ear, waits a minute for a final decision and confirms it with the Video Assistant Referee.



    A goal in football is like nothing else. Because of the rarity of goals in the game, every one of them feels more special. I’m not kidding when I say that some of the best moments in my life has come from celebrating football goals.



    Pundits and commentators might have forgotten what it feels like to be in the stands when your favorite team scores a crucial goal, but us football fans haven’t. Some of that would be lost with VAR and give you another reason to stay at home and watch it on TV instead.



    5. VAR will also get decisions wrong and it will feel even more unfair



    Tottenham’s opening “goal” against Rochdale shouldn’t even have been disallowed. Sure, Llorente was holding the Rochdale defender’s shirt, but the Rochdale defender returned the favour and they were equally at fault. But of course the Rochdale defender fell and that will always get the attention of VAR. More players falling to the ground is exactly what football needs, right?



    That’s the issue with referee decisions in football in the first place. It’s often entirely subjective and we spend hours on end after games discussing controversial decisions.



    Some decisions are easier to swallow than others. When it comes to centimeters on an offside decision you can’t really blame the ref.



    With VAR however, any wrongful decision will result in justifiable blame towards the referees. They will be scrutinized and mocked every time they get something wrong. After all, they won’t just make a wrong decision, but they will have wasted a minute or two just to come to the wrong conclusion.



    6. Even more time wasting!



    Not only will the minutes wasted looking at video feel slow and frustrating as it happens, but the minutes lost will have to be played at a different point. When exactly? In injury time of course.



    Do you know what usually happens in injury time? Time wasting. The least satisfying part of football is when players kick the ball away, spend way too much time setting up a set piece or camp near the corner flag to waste time. With VAR, more of the playing time will be under these conditions. Less free-flowing playing time means a less interesting game.



    7. It’s going to negatively affect how referees make decisions



    Many people believe the use of VAR will improve once everyone gets used to it, but I beg to differ. Like I said, when a ref fails to make use of VAR, like what happened in the Confederations Cup, the referees gets a lot of scrutiny.



    Eventually, refs will be too afraid to judge for themselves and lean more and more on VAR. This has already been notable in tournaments that have already introduced VAR, like the game between Tottenham and Rochdale on Wednesday.



    If referees end up too worried about making almost any decision on their own, we’re heading down the wrong way. Would every single shout for handball be checked? Would anyone falling to the floor too easily warrant going to the video review? The game would be unrecognizable.



    With VAR in place, the referees will also get incentives to go with whatever VAR has spotted on controversial decisions. If you have to stand around and wait for 3 minutes only to keep the original decision, it will feel like a pointless waste of time.



    That might have been what happened when Tottenham were awarded a penalty. To me, the referee had the decision right, with the incident happening outside of the box, even though the Tottenham player fell in it. VAR made the referee check however and gave Tottenham a penalty instead.



    8. There will be an added focus on referee decisions



    This is one of the things VAR is supposed to help with, not make worse. The thought is that by increasing the referee’s accuracy on decisions from 96% to 98%, there will be less controversial decisions, hence less talk about it. That’s not how it works in practice however.



    With the added time spent to make the decisions, the contentious decisions will get even more attention. With VAR, we will be able to make up our mind about what we think the referee should decide to do. If the referee then makes the opposite decision, the frustration will be even greater now that your mind already has been made up. More frustration will lead to more angry tweets, lengthy discussions and TV time on decisions rather than the actual game.



    There are way too many rules in football we all disagree on. When is it a handball? How much contact warrants a penalty vs a dive? Tackles and challenges are always heavily discussed. Was the tackle dirty enough to warrant a red card? Did the defender take away a clear goal-scoring opportunity?



    A lot of decisions are debatable and very few rules are clear cut Yes/No answers like the offside rule. Even some offsides are argued, like in the game between Liverpool and Tottenham a few weeks ago when Harry Kane was allowed to receive the ball from an offside position because Dejan Lovren made a play on the ball. I think Kane interfered with play by being in an offside position, but apparently some referees disagree.




    If you stay up with an extra cargo, there’s a chance you’ll fall asleep and miss the game.



    I know I would.



    My plan is to go to bed from 9 till 3am then up for the game with a refreshing bottle of white wine.



    Luvly jubbly.

  12. Once it starts and, in the absence of other football, we will watch, even just to see if there are any protests.



    I just hope there is no World Cup Scouting going on. The World Cup is the last place to look for unearthed gems but someone who turns in a few decent performances always gets a move to a big club made lazy by having more money than sense, before ending up back in the level they belong. anyone who earns a rep at the WC is immediately over-priced.



    It is a much lower level of football than the CL and we should continue looking at the promising younger players who never made their country’s WC squads or the stars in teams who failed to qualify.

  13. Gianni, Come stai?


    Actually got a lot of time for him since he proved such a gracious host some time back at the Champions League draw, when Billy McNeil represented Celtic FC, and were commemorated by UEFA.


    Then again, even New York mobsters could be very charming men. And only this week he was to be seen at the G20 summit in Bali calling for a ceasefire in the Ukraine to allow the World to concentrate on the football. Got to admire the Chutzpah. Meanwhile the Wokerati have er woken up to the fact that the World Cup is being held in er Qatar! Well I never.


    Still the Middle East deserves the finals but what are the alternatives? Syria or the Lebanon? How about Iraq? And Ruin. Saudi Arabia, handy for the ex pats? The Yemen? Or perhaps the only democracy in the Region, Israel? Mmmm. So Qatar it is. Drinks all round!


    Or maybe not….

  14. CONEYBHOY @ 2:29 PM,



    The classic the gooners will tell you is John Jensen who scored a wonder goal for Denmark against Germany in the Euros



    George Graham bought him on the strength of one goal!!



    Hail Hail

  15. Interestingly, Martin Hayes is now a sales manager for Close Brothers; the merchant bank that gave Sevco credit facilities

  16. CONEYBHOY @ 2:48 PM,



    Ain’t that the truth…



    Still, he’s still a legend in Denmark!!



    Hail Hail

  17. I wonder if the rest of the world, outside of the liberal democracies, are that interested in the Human Rights and LGBT abuses. Its easy to think the assume the rest of the world thinks the same way as we do, but lots of the participants have very sketchy Human rights records. Same-sex sexual activity will get you the jail in 8 of the countries and same sex-marriage is still prohibited in 14. Thats just the nations who made it, there are plenty out there who didnt make it who are far worse.



    Maybe for a lot of global football fans the game is an escape from the harsh world of national politics and they dont want to know or dont care. Maybe Qatar weren’t as naive as we thought.



    I dont think it will be hard for Qatar to control the media message outside of the free liberal media we have in the liberal democracies. It would be interesting to know how much its being reported elsewhere in the world, maybe it wont be an expensive investigation in a lot of countries and the World Cup will ultimately be profitable for the hosts.



    Doesnt excuse either FIFA or Qatar one bit, of course.
















    Saudi Arabia












    South Korea

  19. Susie Dent






    Nov 16



    Word of the day is ‘recrudescence’ (17th century): the return of something unpleasant after a period of relief.

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