FIFA is beyond our control

The trick of happiness is to know how to master your rage and turn it into something useful. I don’t know if there is some eastern sage who first said that, but it is the kind of thing that could easily be expanded into one of those airport-bookstall business management best sellers. You know the kind of thing. Lao Tsu and the Art of Useful Rage. I might have a crack at it myself. In chapter one we would discuss the concept of Useless Rage.

This is when you appear naked on the heath, after experiencing some cosmic injustice, and come up with all sorts of impractical ways of taking revenge.

Let me give you an example from the past few days. On Thursday afternoon I was standing in a conference hall in Zurich when I heard an elderly Swiss lawyer inform the world that football had been invented in China. My hackles rose. He then went on to say that it had been “developed” in Scotland, when we all know that it was begun and codified in London. By this stage I was fit to be tied. But when he announced that the World Cup was going to Russia and then Qatar, dashing English hopes of hosting the competition for at least 20 years, I am afraid I had a kind of seizure.

I was so furious at the lies and the graft — and the bland complacency with which the world’s self-styled football authority had ignored the excellent claims of the England bid — that my first instinct was to go for the military option. What we needed, I felt, was a quick and popular Falklands-style conflict with one of the countries whose mendacious representatives had shafted England — just to clear the air.

I think I even vaguely suggested the idea to the Prime Minister, and he was sensible enough to rule it out. Still in the grip of Useless Anger, my next thought was that we should deal with FIFA. Perhaps we could send the SAS to this Smersh-like HQ, nestling in the hills above Zurich, with its sinister sliding gates and armies of good-looking blonde women in their tight-fitting FIFA uniforms. Or perhaps we should emulate those frizzy-haired American boxing promoters, who respond to defeat by setting up their own heavyweight boxing federations. Perhaps we should organise our own salon des refusés, under the working title of Sod FIFA, with our own world championship, complete with a London-designed World Cup made from the gold of recycled jewellery donated by millions of disgusted English football fans. Would anybody back us?

My final thought, as I continued to vibrate with Useless Anger, was that we should take the ultimate and most gratifying revenge on the rest of the world. Yes, we would show them who was boss and we would bring football home — by winning the FIFA World Cup! That would teach them, I puffed to myself, and as I held that thought in my head the full difficulties of all these projects became clear, and depression set in — the depression that always follows Useless Anger.

It is beyond my current powers either to declare war or to abolish FIFA or to set up a rival football federation or to train England to win the next World Cup. So the trick of managing that rage — and the subject of the next chapter of my business self-help book – is to find another frustration, and solve that one instead. Is there anything quite as irritating as FIFA?

Is there anything that sends you up the wall like Sepp Blatter? Is there anything else that is so inscrutable and mindless and illogical? There is.

roadworks signLet’s talk roadworks. There is a marvellous newspaper interview in which my friend Philip Hammond, Transport Secretary, describes his fury as he is held in a traffic jam. There he is, in the heart of London, the greatest city on earth, unable to get to his meeting because of the orange-and-white cones blocking the road. As he inches closer to the scene of the roadworks, his fury mounts and his knuckles whiten on the walnut burr steering wheel of his Jag — because there doesn’t even seem to be anyone working on the road!

There’s just one man sitting there smoking a cigarette, and the resurfacing seemingly complete. Philip winds down his window and gives vent to his feelings. Why don’t you move the cones, he says, if you have finished the job? “Arrh,” says the workman. “Can’t do that. Tarmac not set yet, is it?”

That is the moment, of course, when most of us would pop with Useless Anger, that terrible sense of being thwarted by things beyond our control. Most of us, that is, except Philip Hammond and the Department for Transport, who now have the chance to convert that anger into something useful.

Roadworks in London are responsible for 38 per cent of delays. They are a serious cause of economic inefficiency. Many of these excavations are taking place, I might point out, on the 95 per cent of roads in London that are managed by the boroughs rather than TFL. And yet we can sort the problem out. Unlike FIFA, this is not beyond our control.

As Philip indicates in his interview, the solution is lane rental, and as soon as Whitehall can pull its finger out we will have a system whereby the 109 bodies that can dig up the road — often without so much as a by your leave — will have a strong financial incentive (a) to concert their activities and (b) to get the job done fast and with minimum disruption.

I want Philip and all other ministers to keep that anger in their hearts; coddle it, nurse it, blow on its embers, until Parliament gives us lane rental and we can get the traffic flowing so smoothly that our transport system will be just one of the reasons why we will be able to mount future unanswerable cases to hold the world’s great sporting competitions. By the way, have you ever been stuck in a traffic jam in Moscow? I have, and it was indescribable; and I wish Sepp and co every joy of it in 2018.

17 thoughts on “FIFA is beyond our control”

  1. South Africa was a mixture of 1st-world and 3rd-world economies, just as Qatar is, but Russia? I have to wonder how much of the 1st-world is left there, and whether we can use “2nd-world” to describe it? Either way: if that’s what the World Cup has become, they’re all welcome to it. Once the full impact on South Africa and Brazil is realised over time. they might not be as eager to take on such a burden.

  2. To stamp out any corruptions, all FIFA delegates must travel together to each of the World Cup bidding countries and be present together to look around and to listen in order to make their decision.

    Why was USA FIFA delegate Chuck Blazer allowed to have an “ultimate” meeting with Putin alone with only a Russian interpreter in the room? Chuck later wrote on his blog that Putin told him that he looked like Carl Marx (!), Putin looked at him warmly (!), Putin gave him an American high-five (!).

    Another FIFA delegate is controversial Warner from Trinidad who has been linked to ticket touting (!). Again, this one had a one-on-one meeting with Putin, with just one interpreter present.

    He later told the press that Putin had promised him that he would take a holiday after the voting and visit him in Trinidad (!). Turns out this Trinidad voter is a wealthy government minister and Putin’s personal visit will boost his local image hugely.

    A Joseph McCarthy in the middle of this corruptive FIFA organisation is much needed.

  3. Shocking latest news:
    Remember some time ago I mentioned about Lib-Dem cranky MP Mike Hancock’s pretty, young Russian personal assistant-cum-resercher-cum-undercover-spy, folks? Who Hancock insisted was not a spy. Well, she has been arrested and is being held in a detention centre awaiting to be deported (!) Read more, read more:

  4. I’m afraid my response to this, as I think I’ve posted before, is that we’re well out of it. Football needs to be suppressed, not encouraged.

  5. Football is doing a superb job of suppressing itself, as the last World Cup demonstrated. A festival of stupefying boredom, brightened up only by the Manchester City player who kicked a Spaniard in the chest.
    Of much more interest are recent events in Adelaide…

  6. Incidentally, isn’t lane rental a somewhat naive response to the plague of roadworks? If past experience of utilities is anything to go by, shouldn’t we expect them to simply pass the cost on to consumers? And if they run late, and have punitive costs given to them, won’t they just punish the consumer, as usual?


    There’s nothing wrong with Englishness, you know. In fact, you should be proud of your Englishness which the world envies. Looks like this coalition government is still following in the footsteps of political correctness obsessed Labour.

    Ah, so now football fans around the world, including the failed bidding countries, are furious about the FIFA stitch up. The best they can do is boycott the Football World Cup 2018 in Russia. Don’t go there. Just stay at home and watch it on the telly ( but as you already know, diehard football fans are quite thick, just like their idols and their WAGS. Comes 2018, most of them will have forgotten all about this FIFA stitch up. )

    Ah, and the Football World Cup 2022 in Islamic country Qatar where alcohol is banned!

  8. Ah, and that sickly looking man Wikileaks founder Julian Assange has been arrested by Scotland Yard in London right now. Serves him right!

    The coward had been hiding in the UK all along while Interpol was looking for him.

    Is he a hero for what he does? I don’t think so.

    He said he wanted to expose ALL governments’ political cover-ups and leak them on the internet for all to read.

    If so, why doesn’t he, or anybody including that handicap with Aspergers who hacked into Nasa’s looking for UFO news, try and hack into Russia’s for any political cover-ups or UFO news for that matter?

    Or they dare not to?

  9. FIFA isn’t a self-styled football authority. It is a football authority, recognised as such by our FA and every other national football authority.

    And, no, the form of football codified in London in 1863 isn’t football as we know it today. That form of the rules was adopted by only a handful of London clubs. It predated the split bewteen rugby and association football and had as much in common with the former as the latter.

    Football evolved over a period of some twenty years with contributions from working-class players and ex-public schoolboys in England and Scotland. The working class favoured a less physical and more skilful game, because they were smaller than the better-fed gentlemen and could not afford time off with injury, while the gentlemen preferred a game of physical contact. The modern game is a brilliantly simple synthesis of both concepts, which may help to explain its universal popularity.

    It is true that Scotland played a major part in developing the game, the Queens’ Park club being pioneers of a game in which the players held definite positions and passed the ball extensively.

  10. Hugh Janus ( bless ) is right – this ‘Englishness’ is somewhat aloof yet so endearing. The Nippons are obsessed with anything English really. Last time one was over there ( by Google’s Virtual Street View ), one could see for oneself that Paul Smith’s, Vivienne Westwood’s, Laura Ashley’s, English Tea shops do very well indeed. David Austin Roses also exports huge amount of English rose shrubs to Japan every year

    There’re plenty of anti-this, anti-that Facebook accounts out there, like anti-XFactor, anti-XFactor Xmas singles, anti-catlady etc… If football fans believe that the Zurich vote was a stitch-up between FIFA and Putin, they should set up a Facebook account, something like ‘Desert Russia’s World Cup’.

    Hit them in the pocket. Espionage boffin Yuri Felshtinky said: ‘The Russian Mafia and the Russian communist top-dogs will make £billions from the 2018 World Cup. And not a rouble will go to the general population.’ Indeed.

    The 2018 World Cup will cost at least £32billion to set up. Did you noticed, folks, that right after the vote, Putin openly call for Chelsea owner Roman Abramovich ( one of those Russian billionaires who chose to live abroad in the free West (!), who are friends of Putin ) to come up with £1billion to help pay for it.

    We all know that it’s only a front. Of course Putin, other Russian communist top-dogs and the Russian Mafia ( who are linked to and protected by Putin and the Kremlin ) have enough of their own cash to pay for it. But they are desperately trying not to be seen doing that openly.

    Of course they have already put most of their ill-gotten money in Swiss bank accounts, but for financial security reasons they still keep some money with them, with which they want to set up and run more businesses right in their homeland.

    And how to do about this without being seen having too much money beyond their means? Easy – buying Western companies’ franchises and running them in their homeland.

    You see, from the WW2 until now, at least 3 generations were born and grew up under Russian communist regime. These poor people have been deprived of any knowledges about the outside world, Western free enterprise, traveling outside their homeland etc… due to lack of information and prohibition from their communist government. They don’t know anything, let alone franchises.

    They believe that any businesses with a Western name open in their homeland must belongs to that Western company of the same name. Examples: well-known international chain hotels, well-known international chain holiday resorts, well-known fast food chain shops, well-known coffee chain shops etc.

    We wouldn’t be surprised if all McDonald’s shops in Russia are in fact franchises belongs to some abroad based company that belongs to Putin.

  11. Edna, what these Russians need is a revolution! By the people, for the people and against the people. Same as usual.

  12. Not that easy, love. Generation after generation after generation born and grow up under the same communist regime, being brainwashed at schools, at weekly neighbourhood political meetings and daily at work places, being daily fed by the communist regime with untrue information, untrue news about the outside world, the Russian general public has lost their own thinking, they believe that any other political parties apart from the Russian Communist Party are illegal. Even now, some brave Russian journalists trying to expose corruption in the Kremlin were murdered.

    Again, having been brainwashed all their lives, who knows anything different to form an opposition party? And that is the purpose of communism.

    Hugh Janus was right: Julian (!) Assange wouldn’t dare penetrate Putin’s ( for any Russian communist political cover-ups ) who would just simply turn around and spray some funny substance onto his knob. Once Assange touched his knob with his hand then touched his mouth, he would die a slow death.

    Important advice: if you have crossed Putin, every time you go out and when you get home, do not touch your front door’s knob with your bare hand in case it is covered with some deadly substance sprayed by the KGB.

    JEMIMA BAIL BID: 8/12/2010

    Jemima Khan ( nee Goldsmith ) left court po-faced after showing her support for Julian (!) Assange yesterday – despite never even having met him (!).

    The ex-wife of Imran Khan was 1 of 5 other famous names to offer £20,000/ each towards the WikiLeaks chief’s bail. She went to the court and slapped £20,000 in used bank notes in several bundles onto the judge’s desk and bellowed: ” ‘Ere! ”

    Also in court to offer cash were John Pilger journalist, Ken Roach film director and top human rights supporters Geoffrey Sheen and Profession Patricia David. A pledge of £80,000 was alsop made by a US relative of Assange. But the judge refuse bail point blank after prosecutor Gemma Lindfield told him that: ” Assange is a wealthy man who leads a nomadic lifestyle. He has a network of international contacts and importantly – there is NO record of him EVER entering the UK in the first place. ” How? Don’t ask me. Ask the Border Control Agency.

    “… Later, Jemima, 36, wrote on Twitter (!!!): ” I offered my support as I believe that this is about the universal right of freedom of information and our right to be told the truth.”

    Oh I say. All her life, she has always tried to be a rebel. Rebelling against the establishment just for the sake of it. A classic kids-from-filthy-rich-familles symptom, me think.

  13. ( calm, leaning against a spade and munching a long red radish disdainfully )… so… tell me… Miss Jemima told the world she supported that Julian off WikiLeaks? ( yawn ) Well, er, her declaration makes me leak. Literally (munch ) I dare say she hangs out with a bad crowd ( burp ) Mr McGregore always tells me: ‘Choose your friends wisely. And steer clear of that Benjamin!’ And he’s right and all ( burp ).

    ( munch disdainfully ) … so… Miss Jemima ‘tweeted’ ( don’t we all?! ): ‘I offered my support as I believe that this is a universal right of freedom of information and our right to be told the truth. blah, blah, blah.’ ( burp )

    May I ask: Are those BIG words Miss Jemima’s own? or she had lifted them off some big-sized newspapers and then she recycled them as her own? ( munch, munch disdainfully ) Come clean. Come clean ( burp ).

    Who does she think she is? Aung San Suu Kyi? ( bloody hell, I hope I got that right ) or Ronnie Corbett?

    And for those MPs who are taking side with WikiLeaks – well, they don’t want the world to know about their dodgy expense claims, do they? Am I correct, Miss Jemima? ( burp )

    A 16 year old Dutch boy has been arrested for taking part in hacking activities in support of WikiLeaks ( yawn )

    A spokesman for ANONYMOUS ( a shadowy international group responsible for hacking into PayPal, Visacard, Mastercard, Amazon, the Swedish Government’s web site etc.) calling himself ‘ COLDBLOOD ‘, a 22 year old London boy, said: ‘As an organisation we have always taken a strong stance on censorship and freedom of expression on the internet and come out against those who seek to destroy it by any means.

    WikiLeaks has become more than just about leaking od documents. It has become a war ground!’

    Yeah, yeah, whatever. ‘WAR’ (!) ‘WAR’ (!) ( yawn, yawn )

    I’ll tell you what, I’ll tell you what – if these kids honestly want to fight against ANY government’s censorship on the internet, why don’t they turn round and look at China, Russia and those communist and dictatorship countries whose brutal regimes are well known the world over for being experts at censorship and anti-freedom of expression. Both on the internet and in real life. On top of their well known human rights abusing, that is. Then, perhaps our ‘dude’ COLDBLOOD could do something about those tyrants for a change? ( bur )

    If you want to fight against censorship on the internet and anti-freedom of speech, you must fight against ALL governments. And not just against USA. Otherwise, I’m afraid some undercover communists are pulling the strings here. ( munch disdainfully )

    Can’t understand why some people living in the good free West yet wanting to destroy it without even knowing why themselves ( burp )

    Western kids nowadays – they make you laugh, don’t they? Born and brought up in the free West, they are so well insulated and ignorant politics-wise. They are also so addicted to their cyber world that they believe the cyber world is the real world ( yawn )

    If anything happens out there, they will jump at the chance to join in, un-invited, and turn it into a war. A Cyber War! Adding some BIG political words to it and their cyber war sounds intelligent enough! ( yawn )

    Pleeeease! These insulated Western kids don’t really know what freedom means even if freedom whacks them across their well fed, chubby faces.

    Living in the free West, well-fed, well insulated, workshy, on social hand-outs, with nothing to do all day, they are bored. So they want some actions. They want to kick arses!

    And nothing easier than going out there and join in with them left-winged arnachists and do a some shops-smahing and then looting ( ! ). All in the name of Fighting For Freedom of Expression! ( munch disdainfully, burp )

    If you look at the computer generated pictures showing the outside and inside of WikiLeaks HQ in Sweden

    you can tell Assange, a well known cyber addict, is a fantasist who believes he really comes from the Cyber world, a James Bond villain, like Hugo Drax in Moonracker ( yawn )

    Sometimes he even dresses the part: long sleeved, turtleneck pullover in light grey, Safari style black leather jacket with 4 big front pockets and numerous fussy straps for the collar, shoulders, sleeves and the waist ( yawn ) plus wet-look black leather pants, together with his platinum dyed demi-garcon hairdo. Oh I say. Shut that door! There’s a draught in here. Who does he think he is? A new Julian Clary? ( yawn )

    Typically, these odd-ball characters always possess a streak of dictatorship. Assange is not intelligent or sensible enough politics-wise to govern a free state; even the size of Monaco ( burp ). The most he can do is run his left-winged, one-sided WikiLeaks from where he thinks he can wield his cyber power (!) over the free world ( munch disdainfully )

    Through out history, from time to time, there has always popped up some misfits and odd-balls, hell bent on destroying the free world and peace.

    Australia – land of curiousities: black swans, kangaroos, platypuses, Dame Edna Average… and now… Julian Assange! Those convicts must be proud of him! ( burp )

  14. Fifa’s decision is about money, and we in England are to blame for creating that culture. Premiership football is no longer sport, but has become an entertainment ‘product’, an obscenity that precludes us from judging Fifa, without ourselves being labelled as hypocrites.

  15. As you know, I’m not the sort of person who likes to talk about other people’ private lives. Never have been. Never will. I mean private means private, yes? And it should stay that way. BUT, because of Jemima, I have to announce that Elizabeth Hurley is hanging out with Shane Warne, the OZ cricketer.

    Of course, Elizabeth has done nothing wrong – she and Patel split up months ago, so technically she is single. So is Shane – he’s already divorced although is still living in the same house with his ex-wife and their 3 kids Down Under.

    That aside, what I mean is Jemima doesn’t know what to do with herself, so she wants to dabble with politics which I dare say is not her strong point. She might be a good socialite but politics is not her strong point.

    Whereas Elizabeth knows what she likes. She likes to have fun and not politics. And she doesn’t pretend. So good luck to her!

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