July 13, 2010

Are You Sure Your Country Wants the World Cup?: "The more World Cups you go to, the more you feel you are part of an ongoing confidence trick. The South African people who have put so much of their heart and soul into the last month are really just extras with local accents. Backdrop. Everything else takes place as part of a franchised operation which, while retaining its slickness, is only seen every four years."

posted by yerfatma to soccer at 09:42 AM - 14 comments

Wow. Leave it to an Irish journalist to make FIFA and the World Cup sound as crooked and self-serving as the Olympics. One missed handball call and they never let you hear the end of it.

posted by rcade at 10:53 AM on July 13, 2010

Yeah, wow. That was some article. I feel robbed for South Africa.

posted by bperk at 11:32 AM on July 13, 2010

I'm guessing you could replace FIFA with IOC or NCAA and have the same article (thought the NCAA doesn't need to build stadiums).

posted by kokaku at 11:40 AM on July 13, 2010

rcade, I usually enjoy your insightful comments, but as an Irishman who frequently reads this observant journalist, I wish you wouldn't infer sour grapes where there weren't any.

posted by Irish627 at 01:42 PM on July 13, 2010

Not 100% sure, but I think he was joking.

posted by yerfatma at 03:40 PM on July 13, 2010

I thought it was pretty well written. I guess no country will ever be able to say, "Fuck you, FIFA -- we'll run it the way we want," unless all of them band together to force change.

posted by wfrazerjr at 06:12 PM on July 13, 2010

Of course FIFA will screw you, and will the IOC. That's how rights owners work - you pay for everything and then they let you have a small share of the revenue.

Countries want things like the World Cup and the Olympics for reasons of national pride, prestige, international image or whatever. Economic benefit arguments are thrown in, but have never been successfully proven.

FIFA knows this and that's why there's always a willing queue of countries lined up to host the thing and be willingly exploited. If a country bids for the World Cup and doesn't already understand this, or have researched past events, then their government is extremely naive.

posted by owlhouse at 06:29 PM on July 13, 2010

Yeah, rcade, back the hell up. I'm Northern Irish, but I'm going to take offence at that rermark too (it's something of a national passtime). You'd better take Fatty's offered out and claim your tongue was in your... keyboard or something, or I'll have to fight you (it's something of a national passtime).

Tom Humphries is usually pretty good, and this article is no exception. The inevitable fact that FIFA will screw you shouldn't be any reason to stop a journalist from pointing that out and calling them on it. I've been to a few football matches in South Africa in the past; I know what he means by the absence of that African flavour to any of the games (hard as that flavour is to pick up on TV I suppose).

posted by JJ at 07:03 AM on July 14, 2010

... I wish you wouldn't infer sour grapes where there weren't any.

Sorry -- my comment was in jest. I thought it was a terrific column and he makes some really good points about FIFA exploiting host countries with exaggerated promises and leaves them in debt. It reminds me of how the Super Bowl was oversold to Jacksonville as a financial boon.

My wife and I both come from big Irish-Catholic families. My grandmother's a Sullivan and her mom's a Reidy.

The talk about fighting Irishmen reminds me of a story. My Sullivan grandmother is in her late 80s and suffering from some dementia. This makes her combative and sharp-tongued sometimes. A year ago during a visit, I told her we were going to an Irish pub. I said that she would probably say something to get me into a fight.

Her response: "If there's going to be a fight [long pause] then I want a piece of it."

posted by rcade at 10:51 AM on July 14, 2010

I went to Sullivan Upper School in County Down, which was founded in 1877 by the trustees of the will of Robert Sullivan. We're probably related.

posted by JJ at 11:01 AM on July 14, 2010

We're probably related.

And horse thieves. At least if my father's research into our roots is accurate.

posted by yerfatma at 11:19 AM on July 14, 2010

This story doesn't apply to the USA: all the infrastructure is already in place. The USA 1994 World Cup is still the best attended World Cup even though it was the last to have only 24 teams instead of the current 32, so there were fewer matches, but they were all sold out matches and were mostly stadiums holding 70,000 or more.

If the USA gets picked for 2022 (or later) it isn't going to get stuck with billions of dollars in unneeded stadium or other infrastructure improvements.

FIFA won't care because they'll make out like a bandit on TV rights and ticket sales.

It's really only the smaller/poorer countries who get suckered into building stadiums and improving infrastructure, who get stuck with these expenses because they think they need FIFA more than FIFA thinks it needs them.

posted by dave2007 at 11:41 PM on July 15, 2010

That is definitely true. In our bid, we are not proposing to build a single new stadium.

Now, I have an objection to the US hosting the World Cup, but it is on the grounds of our country being physically much larger than other countries who host. This causes large travel requirements and also doesn't pack the soccer fans as tightly together as we might like to help produce the World Cup atmosphere that you would get somewhere else. I'd love to see a World Cup on the east coast or the west coast or some region rather than the entire country, but I don't expect that would ever happen.

posted by bender at 07:40 AM on July 16, 2010

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