Tag Archives: uefa

UEFA okays moving 2022 World Cup to winter: who could possibly have seen this coming?

CATEGORY: SportsUEFA (the governing body of European football) has given its tentative approval to moving the 2022 World Cup to the winter.

The prospect of a winter World Cup in 2022 took a step forward after European football chiefs agreed a summer event could not be played in Qatar.

Summer temperatures in the Gulf state can reach 50C, sparking health fears for players and fans alike.

Uefa’s 54 member associations backed the switch at a meeting in Croatia.

Yeah, I can see that.

“The World Cup cannot be played in Qatar in the summer,” said Fifa vice-president Jim Boyce. “Everyone was certainly in agreement about that.”

Right. Everyone was in agreement. And I do feel sorry for FIFA. When they awarded the Cup to Qatar back in 2010, there was no real way to foresee that there could be problems. For instance, since meteorology hadn’t been invented yet, there was no way for the committee to understand that daily high temperatures in Qatar average 106F during the summer months. Average.

Otherwise, the deal made perfect sense. With a population of 1.69 million, the emirate would rank as the 38th largest metropolitan statistical area in the US, right alongside Providence. Sure, there was the fact that when they hosted the Asian Cup they managed the lowest attendance since Lebanon around the turn of the century, but you know, things change.

And as for the weather, that wasn’t going to be a big deal. Nor was the fact that they don’t actually have, you know, stadiums. The plan was that they were going to build several new ones and spread them out around the nation’s major metropolitan markets. Also, they were going to air condition them. No, not domes. They were going to AC outdoor stadiums. In the fucking desert. In fucking July.

That huge-ass seething spot you can see with the unaided human eye from fucking Mars?! Yeah, that’s the blackest carbon footprint in the history of the universe.

(Notice how so far I haven’t said anything about the potential cultural issues surrounding a rampaging month-long drunken orgy descending upon an Islamic village? I’m proud of how I didn’t go there.)

So, you’re probably asking yourself – self, how the hell did Qatar get awarded the World Cup in the first place? Good question. Sepp Blatter, the head of FIFA, said “The Arabic world deserves a World Cup.” He did not say “those of us making the decision deserve this suitcase full of unmarked bills.” But I’m pretty sure he thought it. He thinks all kinds of interesting stuff.

I will admit to not being 100% objective where Bladder is concerned. When he proposed hiring Henry Kissinger to “clean up” FIFA a couple years ago I wrote this:

What kind of narco-voodoo horse tranquilizer is Sepp Blatter injecting directly into his anal glands, anyhow? Enquiring Rational minds want to know. I mean, maybe he wants Kissinger to bomb the FA? But if he does, can he be trusted not to ramp up covert bombing of the Scottish FA and the FFF?

Seriously, what could Sepp be thinking? I can’t find any concrete evidence that he’s a deranged neo-fascist (although the fact that he’s Swiss and born in the mid-’30s raises obvious questions). He’s never been institutionalized that I can tell, although he’s bound to be prone to neo-liberal sex dreams. I did find this bit, which is curious:

In the early 1970s, Blatter was elected president of the World Society of Friends of Suspenders, an organisation which tried to stop women replacing suspender belts with pantyhose.

No telling what a TSA search would shake out of that underwear drawer, yo?

Anyhoo, the collective geniusosity that is the world football braintrust has finally admitted that it would be bad to stage the biggest competition in global sport in an environment where the players’ cleats might melt. Better late than never, huh?

Now all that remains to be figured out is how to do this without completely disrupting the regular seasons of the world’s top leagues. And the Champions League. And the holiday season. And by the way, will we be doing this in January 2022 or December 2022?

#SuitcaseFullOfPetrodollars

Racism in football: FIFA adopts the Dr. Sammy Plan

CATEGORY: Racism in SportsA couple of weeks ago I went off on FIFA and its president, Sepp Blatter, over the issue of racism in world football. The impetus for that post was the racist abuse of AC Milan’s Mario Balotelli by AS Roma fans in a Serie A match. If you recall, Blatter was appalled!

I noted that racism in European football was certainly nothing new and that the sports governing bodies had done pretty much nothing about it. Specifically, I wrote:

The failure to stop an undesired action by an individual or group is a function of either a) a lack of power, or b) a lack of will. There’s not a lot FIFA can do about the racism of fans as they share a pint in the pub after the game, perhaps, but there’s a great deal they can do in the stadiums. For instance, in yesterday’s match the game could have been suspended and resumed later in an empty stadium. AS Roma could be fined and docked points in the standings. If none of these measures achieve the desired result over a set period of time, the club could be relegated to Serie B. And so on.

So imagine my surprise earlier today when fellow Chelsea FC supporter (and occasional S&R commenter) Bret Higgins forwards this item along.

FIFA racism measures could see teams expelled or relegated

Teams could be relegated or expelled from competitions for serious incidents of racism after tough new powers were voted in by Fifa.

First or minor offences will result in either a warning, fine or order for a match to be played behind closed doors.

Serious or repeat offences can now be punished by a points deduction, expulsion or relegation.

Jeffrey Webb, head of Fifa’s anti-racism task force, said the decision was “a defining moment”.

He added: “Our football family is fully aware that what is reported in the media is actually less than 1% of the incidents that happen around the world.

“We’ve got to take action so that when we look to the next 20 or 50 years this will be the defining time that we took action against racism and discrimination.”

Fifa, world football’s governing body, passed the anti-racism resolution with a 99% majority at its congress in Mauritius.

Wow. It’s as though FIFA leaders read my post and said “hey, that about covers it. All in favor, say ‘aye’.” While I’m just about certain that isn’t what happened, it’s still nice to see your wisdom validated every once in awhile. Suffice it to say that FIFA has gotten the policy right and they deserve major props for finally getting serious about the dark underbelly of the beautiful game.

All that remains now is to carry through with it. That, of course, could be sticky. I don’t doubt that they’d bring the hammer down in one of football’s notorious backwaters. Booting a lower division scuffer like Hansa Rostock or Hallesche FC down the food chain another notch to make a point? You betcha. I can even see them getting medieval on a big fish/little pond outfit like, say, Steaua Bucuresti.

But what about the racist ultras in some of the world’s bigger, more profitable leagues? Would FIFA and UEFA really relegate an AS Roma, one of Italy’s more prominent sides? What about Lazio, Roma’s far more virulent (and historically fascist) neighbors? As Bret said in a Facebook exchange, if FIFA is serious about this, Italy’s second division is about to get a lot bigger. Perhaps we should expect many rounds of fines and wrist-slapping before a big club is actually punished.

We’ll find out eventually. We can certainly expect a smaller club or two to be made examples early on. We won’t know for sure how serious FIFA really is until they’re faced with repeated offenses by a major side, and the smart money says that case will emerge from Italy.

For now, though, congratulations to FIFA for laying the groundwork. This policy does all the right things, and all that’s left is to enforce it.

Blatter “appalled” by racist abuse of Balotelli: hey Sepp – less talk, more action

CATEGORY: Racism in SportsRacist abuse of AC Milan striker Mario Balotelli by AS Roma fans in yesterday’s Serie A match caused the official to briefly suspend play. After an PA announcement warning the offending supporters to cease and desist, the game was resumed.

While these things are hardly uncommon in Italian football (or throughout the rest of Europe, for that matter), FIFA dictator-for-life president Sepp Blatter is appalled

“Appalled to read about racist abuse in Serie A last night,” Blatter tweeted Monday. “Tackling this issue is complex, but we’re committed to action, not just words.”

Blatter added that FIFA’s taskforce against racism and discrimination is “serious about devising a unified approach for FIFA’s 209 members.”

Blah Blah Blahtter. I’m not a big Sepp fan, of course. While he is to be praised for his humanitarian efforts, the pungent aroma of Eau de Fixer follows him wherever he goes. In the case of world football’s persistent racism, I have no doubt that he means what he says – he’d like it to be gone, and FIFA is exploring a variety of remedies. On this I take him at his word.

The thing is, I survey the landscape and as far as the eye can see there’s nothing but inaction. Milan coach Massimiliano Allegri had it about right in the post-match interview:

“Stopping the game doesn’t work. It’s a happy medium and like all happy mediums, it doesn’t do anybody any good.”

The fact is that FIFA (and UEFA) responses to racism have been ineffective because they favor, as Allegri says, the happy medium. The half measure. The symbolic gesture. The sternly worded warning. The slap on the wrist.

The failure to stop an undesired action by an individual or group is a function of either a) a lack of power, or b) a lack of will. There’s not a lot FIFA can do about the racism of fans as they share a pint in the pub after the game, perhaps, but there’s a great deal they can do in the stadiums. For instance, in yesterday’s match the game could have been suspended and resumed later in an empty stadium. AS Roma could be fined and docked points in the standings. If none of these measures achieve the desired result over a set period of time, the club could be relegated to Serie B. And so on.

[UPDATED: It has now been announced that AS Roma is being fined 50K euros by the Lega Calcio. This number represents nearly 3.5/1000ths of a percent of the team’s annual revenue.]

What happens as soon as the governing bodies begin taking meaningful action? Well, the technology exists to monitor every corner of a stadium, and it wouldn’t take long to identify the perpetrators. A club facing the loss of revenue associated with meaningful action would have pegged and permanently banned the perpetrators for life before the crew had the stadium swept.

The club would find itself receiving a lot of help from its more civilized fans, too. There are people in the crowd who don’t want to see their team penalized and you can bet the farm they’d be willing to help finger the troublemakers.

FIFA and UEFA could do these things tomorrow. They might encounter a legal challenge if things progressed far enough, but my guess is that they’d be on solid footing.

But they don’t. Why not? If you have the power to solve a problem and you do not do so, then it can only mean that you lack the will to solve the problem.

We can speculate as to motives all we like, but in the end it doesn’t matter. Racism of the sort directed at Mario Balotelli yesterday persists because it is allowed to persist.

I assure you, Blatter isn’t any more appalled by the actions of those fans than I am by his inaction. Perhaps less bluster, less impotent indignation and more leadership is in order.