Few things have a convening power as formidable as sport. What does it take to persuade three figures as high-profile as the prime minister, perhaps the highest-profile English sportsman ever and the second in line to the throne to traipse along to Zurich in the middle of winter? Football of course. Not even an event, but the promise of an event, and, in England's case, the country's bid to host the 2018 football World Cup.
And of course, in keeping with England's perenially under-performing football team, David Cameron, Prince William and David Beckham failed. The 2018 event will go to Russia, and the 2022 World Cup will go to, of all places, Qatar. The British press, of course, smells a rat.
This is not just sour grapes. British newspaper and TV journalists have been hard at work uncovering what they claimed was widespread corruption within FIFA in the run-up to the decision, and much attention has been focused on the vexed question of whether a BBC documentary detailing some of the charges against FIFA members should have been broadcast just days before the decision was made.
The only other foreign news that has had anything like the same amount of coverage over the last week has been the lastest document dump from WikiLeaks. We've looked at some of the implications ourselves - on issues including Turkey, Iran and Spain, and I've recorded a short podcast on the subject with Dimitar Bechev which will go out later this afternoon.
The Guardian (one of the small group of newspapers with first-hand access to the leaked documents) has been making the most of their exclusive access. Others have been rather more sceptical about the value of the content - Daniel Drezner's Foreign Policy piece was one of the best takes on it that I came across. Personally, I also thought some of the reportage was easily on a par with some of the best journalism. Take this, for instance, about weddings in Dagestan:
"The alcohol consumption before, during and after this Muslim wedding was stupendous... Gadzhi had flown in from the Urals thousands of bottles of Beluga Export vodka (“Best consumed with caviar”). There was also entertainment... with the big-name performers appearing both at the wedding hall and at Gadzhi’s summer house. Gadzhi’s main act, a Syrian-born singer named Avraam Russo, could not make it because he was shot a few days before the wedding."
The idea that WikiLeaks and technology might revolutionise foreign policy and diplomacy has also been widely debated. One obvious question being asked is which other international institutions might benefit from a little bit more of the openness and transparency that a WikiLeaks document dump brings. And one obvious answer (not that I'm a slightly sour Englishman) might be FIFA. I wonder if the Spanish, Portugese, Americans, Australians, Dutch and others might agree.
3rd December 2010 at 03:12pm
It’s not just us English who are slightly peeved at FIFA - here’s a neat and angry little piece from David Rothkopf on Foreign Policy, focusing on Qatar’s remarkable victory. http://rothkopf.foreignpolicy.com/posts/2010/12/02/sepp_blatters_qatar_as_rhymes_with_gutter_politics
6th December 2010 at 04:12pm
altohugh you must admit this is a beautiful reaction, and I don’t think any American would have done the same for winning the bid (again- they just hosted it 16 years ago)
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