Saturday 17 March 2018

FIFA sheikh-down will be messy affair

John O'Brien

How comforting to know that at such a testing time in the history of the human race there exists great and visionary leaders among us who can point us to a better way. We refer to Nicolas Sarkozy, still strutting the globe in search of the love so cruelly denied him by the citizens of his own country, his compatriot Michel Platini and the man who so cruelly mocked us before the draw for the 2010 World Cup, old Blatter-face himself.

The three inspirational leaders popped up during the week to bravely challenge the consensus that major events like World Cups and Olympics had to be staged during the summer months when the temperatures in equatorial-based countries effectively ruled them out as potential hosts. The World Cup, Sarkozy tersely explained, would have to be shared accordingly. "It can't be the exclusive property of a few western nations."

So what was driving these noble impulses? A desire to spread the sporting gospel among the poverty-stricken people of west Africa, perhaps? The noble urge to one day bring the World Cup to the football-mad population of Burma and Bangladesh? Were we witnessing the truly caring side of Fifa? The Clinton-like ambitions of the ex-French president to bring joy and peace to all corners of the globe?

The clue was in the venue. Sarkozy was speaking at a conference in Qatar for whose successful bid for the World Cup – notably supported by Platini – he was one of the main advocates. So we could see his sudden concern for the global appeal of sport for what it was: the opening salvo in a campaign to have the 2022 World Cup rescheduled on behalf of his new oil-rich buddies in Doha.

But this, of course, will go down like a lead balloon with the big clubs in Europe and, at some point in the near future, one hell of a bunfight is likely to ensue. That our loyalties might edge towards the clubs in that battle is merely an indication of the type of people we are dealing with here.

Sunday Indo Sport

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