The amazing thing about Fifa president, Sepp Batter (who hasn’t been arrested — yet), and his senior officials (who have) is why they ever thought they could get away with choosing Russia (2018) and Qatar (2022) as the venues for the next . . . World soccer championships. Two more inconvenient places — for soccer fans — can’t be imagined, unless they were the middle of the Sahara for one and Antarctica for the other.
Corruption had to be the reason and, when the venues were announced, everybody, even the least-informed about soccer — such as I (though I loved the game as a boy) — knew that a lot of money must have changed hands. Apart from the corruptees, the only people who might have benefited were German architects and civil engineers who had already hinted to Qatar that they were the only professionals up to the almost impossible job of designing stadia that could have contained thousands of people in moderate temperatures and allowed football teams to play without collapsing from heat exhaustion.
Almost anything, and everything, will happen now in the international soccer world, but there are other dimensions involved outside it which, to be really objective, are of even more importance than soccer. While the FBI in America, which has been collecting evidence for years, will now go ahead with prosecuting Fifa personnel, the US State Department, much involved in trying to bring the Muslim countries peacefully into the modern world, will be very upset. Only last week, Obama held a conference to which all the great Sheikhs of the United Arab Emirates had been invited. Not all of them turned up, mind you, because Obama is not at all popular out there but, nevertheless, the action of the FBI is only going to make relationships trickier.
And then there’s the Russia venue at Sochi, the last venue of the Winter Olympic Games. If this is in danger, then Putin is going to be very uspet. He has his heart on setting up Sochi as the one of the most sought-after tourist spots in the world.
So, although some great body, such as the UN, is going to be involved in a total reconstruction of the constitution and organisation of the World Soccer Cup (and presumably replacing “Fifa” with a brand new name), its considerations are going to be threaded through with all sorts of other international tensions. In a curious way, it is another example of what I was writing about yesterday (“Predominant power and the natural caste system”) where ordinary people — in this case, soccer fans all over the world — will be influencing the decisions of what were hitherto more powerful caste levels.