Thursday, June 22, 2006

Should the World Cup be a World Club Cup?

There is something disturbingly schizophrenic about being an Austrian, in the philosophical sense, and being an England supporter, in the football soccer sense, because all the usual faults of the state are fully apparent within the current international football set up:

  • FIFA, the UN of football, is diseased to the core, being at best incompetent and at the worst, terminally corrupt.

  • Handing out 3,500 tickets for the England game on Sunday, when there are at least 35,000 fans who would pay at least £300 pounds a ticket to see the game live, so that FIFA officials can rake off the private profits from selling 31,500 tickets on the black market, has Soviet-style nomenklatura duplicity written all over it.

  • The way international football associations ride roughshod over the private football teams who are compelled to supply their players, smacks of all the sins of state conscription, with Alex Ferguson being reduced to praying that the England management don't wreck his premier sporting asset, Wayne Rooney, in their haphazard bid to win a trophy.

  • And then we look at the England team itself, which operates at a level far less effective than the sum of its parts, with massively overpaid management producing shoddy performances from players who, at the private club level, would walk into most of the best private teams in the world.

  • Nobody wants the next England manager, Steve McClaren, except the FA themselves, because they see him as infinitely malleable. This smacks of central bank appointments, where politicians appoint non-entities so that the banks can achieve a patina of independence while at the same time the politicians can pull the strings of a grateful supplicant. McClaren will receive £3.5 million pounds a year, which is about £2.5 million more than he could command on the open market. Expect more blundering incompetence over the next four years, from this managerial boob.

  • The more obvious choices for the England manager's job, Sam Allardyce, Stuart Pearce, and Terry Venables, are far too competent for the FA's liking, and would dare to answer back and do a decent job for the money. It sounds more and more like government all the time.

  • The players themselves receive relatively scant reward, in comparison to both what they earn for their private clubs and what the FA will receive in fees for England's attendance at the World Cup. I never begrudge these players a penny of what they earn, except perhaps when they start slating capitalism at Bono-inspired press events; their share of the World Cup booty is simply derisory compared to what their skills, talents, and hard work, are generating.

  • And then of course we have all of that patriotic nationalist nonsense with all those dreadful national anthems, hands on hearts, and olds-scores-to-settle fervour whipped up by the various media outlets.
Okay, so maybe I am a hypocrite on this - I admit it, both hands up. But there is something about having been raised an Englishman, which affects my nervous system on this primal level as much as it appears to have affected Wayne Rooney. But standing back and trying to view it more rationally, I think I would prefer a World Club Cup with 32 of the best private teams in the world playing a tournament every four years instead of the current international FIFA-based setup.

There would be less nationalism, more competent team management, and better ticketing arrangements. The players would also be properly rewarded for their input, there would be less organisational corruption, and the risks of the games would fall fairly on the competing private teams, rather than being passed on to someone else, as at present; I certainly wouldn't like to be a Newcastle United shareholder at the moment, having watched a £17 million pound investment, in the shape of Michael Owen, dispatched to a physiotherapist's table, perhaps permanently, by poor pitch preparation and incompetent pre-match warm-up training.

And after sampling the joys of the England team in the previous three games, I'm certain that watching Chelsea play Boca Juniors would provide far more footballing entertainment than England versus Paraguay, unless of course watching a Keystone Kops shambles is what you enjoy, as part of the secret masochistic life of the typical England supporter.

Obviously, I wouldn't want to force a World Club Cup on anyone. But how far down the current premier league would we have to go before we found a team that would fail to beat England? Would England even feel comfortable taking on Blackburn? Maybe the World Club Cup will spontaneously generate itself, from a growing European Cup, franchising itself into a world event? If and when it does, perhaps the World Club Cup will gradually come to overshadow the World Cup, diminishing it to the level of, let's say, FA County football, as at present. I can but hope.

Meanwhile, back here in the real world, let's go for a prediction: England to beat Ecuador on penalties and then to go out in the next round - Sven Goran Eriksson must be laughing all the way to his Swiss bank account in Zurich, which incidentally, is the home of FIFA - funny that. Though yes, I still dream of that last minute Wayne Rooney hackle over the line, against Brazil, in the final. You just never know with football. That, perhaps, is the problem.

5 comments:

brainsick said...

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Jack Maturin said...

Well thanks for popping over, brainsick. If you're serious with your question, I don't think there is anything to be done, as the whole world cup process is still pretty much a voluntary activity, though perhaps we might want to examine the usual government tax rake-offs to pay for football stadia, so they can be filled by grateful voters; I was just trying to see if I could spot statist parallels.

We can but hope that the world's private clubs gradually grow their continent-wide competitions to become global competitions, to supplant the nationalism of the current FIFA regime.

Aside from that, perhaps we should just sit back and enjoy watching Brazil.

Julius Blumfeld said...

"the whole world cup process is still pretty much a voluntary activity, though perhaps we might want to examine the usual government tax rake-offs to pay for football stadia"

LOL. The German Govt spend about 1.4 billion euro on stadia for the WC. The world cup is thus about as private as the olympics. And since it is Fifa's main source of revenue, it is hard to regard Fifa as a voluntary association in anything but name.

Julius Blumfeld said...

p.s. I have £25 at 11-1 on an England-Germany final. You mark my words it will happen (though who will win is another matter ...)

Jack Maturin said...

Ah, there, you see. Again.

I predicted an England win over Equador, and then a subsequent loss in the next round, and once again, AngloAustria proved UNBELIEVABLY accurate.

My predictive powers will never work again, obviously.

But just in case, let's examine what's going to happen next, from a statist conspiracy angle.

1. German government in trouble at home with voters, and growing political disillusionment, after political 'unification'.

2. German government spends €1.4 billion euros building 'free' stadia for german voters to get emotional in.

3. FIFA makes huge amount of money from World Cup, without having to spend any money on stadia.

4. I think you can see where this is going.

5. If Germany win, German government gets huge 'result' out of tax investment and glowing 'feel-good' factor over 'united' Germany, which no doubt it will milk unbelievably, much as Harold Wilson milked England's win in 1966, in highly similar circumstances.

6. If this 'Host the Tournament, Win a Tournament' pattern continues, FIFA continue to have long list of client governments queueing up to host and pay for World Cup, and to help them fund occasional forays into the US, to break football soccer into that hugely lucrative market.

7. Therefore it is MASSIVELY in FIFA's financial interests if Germany wins World Cup, from Portugal, France, and Italy.

8. AngloAustria prediction. Germany will win the World Cup because this makes the most statist sense. I don't know what FIFA have done, or what they'll have to do, to bring this about, beyond fixing the best venues for Germany, and fixing the groups, but if Germany do win, I expect the FIFA administrators to all have big smiles on their faces, and several referees to have impressive new cars on their driveways in a few months time once the heat is off.

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