The Sweeper: How To Win A World Cup Bid

David Beckham, Ambassador to the World

David Beckham, Ambassador to the World

Big Story
Winning the right to host the World Cup finals is about much more than the actual content of the bid, as we commented yesterday when examining the United States’ solid package.

For England, it’s been a torrid time of interminable controversy inside the bid administration, with the unseemly bickering between the Football Association, the Premier League and all the egos of England’s bloated football administration. The U.S., without the intense press coverage of the sport and with a much more streamlined (perhaps too much so!) national administration, is able to avoid most of this.

And so the Daily Mail plunges another knife into England’s faltering World Cup bid, though there’s something a little unsettling about the major complaint being that “Yet another sign of a wasted opportunity came in the bear hug with which FIFA president Sepp Blatter greeted former FA chief executive Brian Barwick at the Soccerex conference in  Johannesburg. Barwick, one of English football’s best networkers, was not even deemed worth a place among the bid’s 70-odd ambassadors.”

Yet England does have one endless route to good publicity: David Beckham. The Times falls for Beckham’s ambassadorial role for the bid hook, line and sinker, commenting that “The England midfielder has emerged as the figurehead of the 2018 campaign and he has already had made progress in his attempts to charm Fifa power brokers such as Sepp Blatter, the president, and vice-president Jack Warner.”

Suddenly, we are reminded that this whole World Cup bidding process — with the need to snuggle up to the likes of Warner and Blatter — isn’t such an edifying business after all. Can we ever imagine a future in which the world’s game (as FIFA likes to call it) isn’t directed by 24 old and corrupt cronies who need their egos petted at all times?

Worldwide News

  • The Colorado Rapids’ traditionally dismal supporters’ section may get a boost, as the Colorado Rapids Supporters Association says that “After several years of deliberating and negotiations, I’m proud to say the supporters are finally where they want to be…behind a goal!” They also say that negotiations with the front office will be bringing further positive change. Another step in the right direction for MLS teams’ dealings with supporters. Let’s hope it’s not too little too late for Colorado.
  • A curious defense of agents appears on the Guardian by Lawrence Donegan. There’s a good argument to be made that agents are necessary, but it needs to be put in the context that their consistently underhand and greedy practices have at times severely damaged the sport and thus they need to be kept under extremely tight leashes.  Surely they could do their job being paid a lot less than the £70.7m the Premier League spent in the past year. Yet Donegan’s defense is instead a blabbering and completely irrelevant rant about Simon Cowell’s role in the entertainment industry: “The X Factor producer and judge runs his own record company which, coincidentally, signs lots of acts that appear on the X Factor.” Who the hell cares? Football does not need to take its cues from the pop industry.
  • Why did Manchester United pull out of their deal for Serbian youngster Adem Ljajic? The Guardian speculates on, but offers little evidence for, further fnancial problems stemming from the Glazers’ debt-laden takeover.
  • There was a pretty extraordinary ending to the Copa Sudamericana final, as Ecuador’s Liga Deportiva Universitaria went down to nine men, lost 3-0 to Fluminense in Rio de Janeiro and still hung for the title thanks to their 5-1 lead from the first leg.

The Sweeper appears daily. For more rambling and links throughout the day every day, follow your editor Tom Dunmore @pitchinvasion on Twitter.

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