FIFA: What if they’re right and we’re wrong?

Jonny Singer ponders the rights and wrongs of FIFA’s latest controversy, the Russia and Qatar World Cup bids…

Unless you’ve been living under a rock for the past five years, you’ll probably know that there have been a few allegations of corruption against FIFA.

Since Qatar was announced as the 2022 World Cup host, to an air of general surprise and disappointment, football’s governing body has rarely been far from the headlines.

And, if the headlines you see most are written in English, and in particular if they’re written by Englishmen, you’re likely to have a pretty strong view about the issue.

As the news broke on Thursday that FIFA’s corruption report not only absolved Qatar of any wrong-doing, but also made accusations of corruption about the Football Association, the English press were almost falling over themselves to criticize, and mock, Sepp Blatter and his organization.

The response of almost everyone I’ve spoken to in this country is the same – FIFA are so corrupt that they’re attacking the only people to call out their corruption.

But are we right? Continue reading

Interview – David Conn on Sport Journalism and the Media


In the first of a two part interview, Natasha Clark speaks to Guardian sports journalist and investigative reporter David Conn about sports culture and his critical eye on the media’s take on football…

I am not a sports journalist. I don’t follow sport and I rarely watch it. But I knew David Conn would be a big deal. His work in the past year has investigated business controversy behind Tottenham’s new stadium project, Premier League finances, drugs-testing within football, the commercial interests of the FA, and Conn has continued to be one of the leading writers on Hillsborough.

In 2009, His piece remembering the atrocities of the semi-final between Liverpool and Nottingham Forest 20 years on, played a part in re-opening an investigation into the events of 1989, and quashing the initial verdict of ‘accidental death’. My sports knowledge may be limited, but I was far from disappointed; Conn speaks with sincerity, enthusiasm and a sheer passion for football and community.

Bearing in mind his reputation, and recent Sports Journalist of the Year award at the British Journalism Awards last month, I threw him in right at the deep end. Are sports journalists scared to criticise sport due to their closeness to the game? A sharp intake of breath follows. “Actually, I think that statement is both unfair and outdated.”  Continue reading

Qat-ar you having a laugh?


As negotiations over the 2022 Qatar World Cup continue, Jacob Mignano offers his own vitriolic assessment of the farcical process…

It’s hard to believe I’ve never written anything about the 2022 FIFA World Cup in Qatar that hasn’t been neatly summed up in 140 characters. Such is my outrage, I feel Twitter is not an adequate medium through which to sufficiently summarise my feelings. That changes now.

Ever since the competition was awarded to Qatar I have tried my best to bite my tongue and just get on with it. Honestly, I was so incredulous at FIFA’s decision to overlook England as the host of the 2018 World Cup in favour of Russia, that when it was announced a short while later that Qatar had pipped the U.S.A and Australia to the post, I assumed it was just a very elaborate joke. As time passed though, I began to understand. Why hold the World Cup in the home of football, a country with one of the world’s most competitive leagues and some of the world’s finest stadiums already in place, when you can hold it across seven time-zones, on plastic pitches linked together by 24-hour bus journeys? I suppose for the same reason you’d choose to hold a World Cup in the sweltering heat of a country almost half the size of Wales.

(Oh, what’s that you say? They both have oil? Well, why didn’t you say so before?) Continue reading

Murdoch’s Sky Dream League Ushers in the Age of the Super Club


With the news that Rupert Murdoch wants to create a super league of 16 elite teams, Greg Johnson looks at what the establishment of a new top-tier could mean for football’s long-term health…

The age of the super-club is upon us. Across Europe, a cabal of elite teams have risen to dominate their respective leagues. Most of the major top divisions already reduced to year-on-year duopolies ruled by a select clique of clubs – a plutocracy that stretches from Manchester to Munich. Beyond their mega rich pretenders, racing to outrun and out-spend the retracting ladder of Financial Fair Play regulations, there is little challenge to their competitive stranglehold.

Although the Qatar Dream Football League proposal proved to be a hoax, arch-opportunist Rupert Murdoch is reportedly “exploring” the very real prospect of establishing an exclusive 16 club super league to take place during the post-season summers of the future. Though initially touted as an after-thought exhibition tournament, the quality of opposition and opportunity for exposure would eventually come to threaten the standing of the regular championship run-ins and cup finals.

Described as the “Formula One-isation of football”, matches would be staged across the world in the stadiums of the highest bidders. With such an opportunity to service the enormous, flourishing markets of East Asia and the USA with competitive, high-glamour fixtures, the likes of Manchester United and Barcelona may find that continuing to persist with traditional domestic leagues would no longer make business sense. It’s unlikely even the riches of the Premier League or La Liga would be able to match the benefits and opportunities afforded by a global division of super clubs. Continue reading