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History teaches us that Fifa has changed little

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Tim Vickery | 14:44 UK time, Monday, 6 December 2010

A couple of weeks ago I was doing the translating when Dan Roan interviewed former Fifa president Joao Havelange at the Soccerex conference in Rio de Janeiro.

Still entirely lucid well into his 90s, the Brazilian was asked what needed to change in Fifa. "Nothing," he replied. "It's perfect. It's not because of one fact in 50 years [a reference to the recent corruption scandals] that we have to change."

It is impossible to agree.

The facts would appear to be not one but many. Hiding behind its status as a not-for-profit organisation, Fifa's lack of transparency is surely unsustainable.

But Havelange added something else which is hard to refute. "Football today is a power that has to be applauded," he said. Indeed, there has been an extraordinary global expansion of the game since he replaced England's Stanley Rous as Fifa president in 1974. Football has conquered new territories. Havelange's plan to globalise the game, given continuity by his successor Sepp Blatter, has been an undeniable success.

Nowadays, football generates rivers of money from sponsors and television rights - and it is alleged that some of this money has been finding its way into private bank accounts. The corruption is an unwelcome spin-off from the success of the game.

Some may disagree but I am in favour of the investigative work carried out by elements of the British media. One of the most noble tasks of journalism is to make those in power uncomfortable. No-one is obliged to become a sports administrator. Of course they must account for their actions. The investigative work of the free press must continue.

But I also believe that some of this investigative work suffers from a lack of context. The corruption is attacked without any sense of its relationship to the success of the game. There seems to be an underlying belief that everything was rosy in the garden while the English were in charge.

In comparison with the shenanigans of the Havelange/Blatter years, the time in which Fifa was presided over by Rous is held up as a kind of paradise lost. Yet the record books do not make quite such impressive reading.

Stanley RousSir Stanley Rous (centre) was Fifa president from 1961 to 1974. Photo: Getty Images

Under Rous, Europe dominated Fifa. Of the 32 games at the 1966 World Cup, 25 had European referees, who gave Pele no protection as he was kicked out of the tournament and made a hash of the quarter-finals, thereby alienating the South Americans.

Relations with Africa were strained for two reasons. Firstly, because Rous was reluctant to give them automatic World Cup qualification, using the argument that their standard of play was not high enough. But how could they improve without the chance to learn at the top level? Then there was Rous's position in favour of apartheid South Africa. His judgement looked poor at the time but appears disastrous in hindsight.

Further nations were alienated by one of the darkest chapters in Fifa's history: the decision to authorise the World Cup play-off match between Chile and the Soviet Union in Santiago's National Stadium in November 1973.

General Augusto Pinochet had launched his coup in Chile on 11 September and had used the National Stadium as a concentration camp for his political opponents. Hundreds were murdered there and thousands were tortured. Two weeks before the game was due to take place, the remaining prisoners were either released or moved to other institutions and the bloodstains were hurriedly removed.

The Soviet Union quite correctly refused to play in such a venue. Staging the match in Uruguay would have been an acceptable compromise but Fifa ordered the game to go ahead and Chile eventually took the field with no opposition.

Making such a monumental humanitarian blunder would seem to indicate that Rous was some way out of his depth on the global stage. But while the British investigative journalists have gone after the Fifa of Havelange and Blatter, they have been less inclined to turn their guns on the reign of Rous, who attempted to hold the moral high ground with his holier-than-thou tone.

Some of England's problems inside Fifa may date from this time - there are some old men on Fifa's executive committee with long memories.

Joao HavelangeHavelange is still going strong at 94. Photo: AP

And so with England left on the outside, the Havelange/Blatter project goes on. Fifa's quest to take the World Cup all a round the globe is both laudable and problematic.

The former because the game belongs to the people. The latter because there is always the risk that the people end up paying more than they should for the privilege.

Fifa is so powerful that it is able to bully the host nation. Its own business is low risk - it makes money from the sale of television rights. Meanwhile, it receives all kinds of tax breaks and pressures the government to spend money not only on infrastructure but also on stadiums - some of which become white elephants.

In the developing world, where governments have so many other pressing priorities, this is a cause for concern.

Moreover, all that spending on stadiums and infrastructure inevitably produces opportunities for money to be siphoned off into private pockets. Once again, the corruption in football is connected to the game's global expansion.

Comments on the piece in the space provided. Questions on South American football to vickerycolumn@hotmail.com, and I'll pick out a couple for next week.

From last week's postbag:

Q) I remember in the late 1990s Alvaro Recoba was being touted as a potential great. His style of play reminds me of Robin van Persie. I was wondering why his obvious talent was never fulfilled and why he never succeeded in the European game. It would appear players from Uruguay struggle to adapt to the European leagues, talented players such as Recoba, Fabian Carini, Diego Forlan and Lodeiro have either failed or struggled. Is there a key element to the Uruguayan style which hinders footballers moving to Europe? In terms of ability, I have always looked at Recoba as more gifted than compatriot Forlan. What is the general belief from the Uruguayan fans on this point?
Martin Hadfield

A) I think you've been hard on Uruguayans. Plenty have succeeded in Europe. Of the list you mentioned, Lodeiro has hardly started and Forlan has been an undoubted success. And I'm not really sure that it's fair to say that Recoba didn't succeed in Europe - he scored more than 50 goals for Inter Milan.

It is correct, though, that he never took the step up to become a true great. I think most would share your view that he is more naturally talented than Forlan. But I think he lacks Forlan's mental strength. The truly great player makes himself indispensable at key moments but Recoba has always given the impression of an impish kid, rather than a player you can rely on to come good when you need him.

Q) While travelling in South America, I saw a feature on the Corinthians goalkeeper Julio Cesar. In it was footage of some unbelievable double and sometimes triple saves. I hadn't seen saves like that since Neville Southall was at his peak. He's clearly a great shot stopper and acrobatic, too. However, he's not that young and relatively inexperienced. Do you think he could play a role for Brazil in the national team?
James Tenniswood

A) He has come through from nowhere this season and enjoyed an excellent campaign, although he gave away a goal on Sunday with an awful kicking error. Brazil has become a first class producer of goalkeepers. Who would have thought, 30 years ago, that Brazil would be exporting keepers to Europe? So there is a lot of competition for the national team. But playing for Corinthians gives Julio Cesar a powerful constituency. He's already 26, so no time to waste. Another good year with Corinthians, especially if they can win next year's Libertadores, might be enough to get him into contention.

Comments

Page 1 of 2

  • Comment number 1.

    Excellent and very timely article, Tim. I remember when I first read about the Chile - Soviet "match" (in Eduardo Galeano's book). I couldn't believe it.

    As for Alvaro Recoba, he was indeed magnificently gifted: had the pleasure of watching him live once in his first Serie A season and he was outstanding.

    However, I suspect his mind was too often centred on the game's peripherals. If memory serves, he had it written into his contract with Inter that he should always be the highest-paid player at the club. Surely such an obsession with money can only be detrimental to a player's development?

  • Comment number 2.

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  • Comment number 3.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 4.

    Eduardo Galeano's book is truely great. He is also Uruguayan by the way! It is a great account how things were (and are) run globally.

    Also answers to the first question would be Rubén Sosa who was a prolific striker and Paolo Montero who was a great defender..

  • Comment number 5.

    I remember seeing an ITV documentary with Jonathan Pilger doing a Michael Moore on Havelange in the 70s or 80s Tim, but as you point out, in England no-one seemed to be questioning what had gone before, especially when it was the classic English gentleman who had been at the helm during England's halcyon days. Those stats and revelations are real eyeopeners to me, food for thought that would have served well on some of last weeks more mainstream (no offence intended) blogs.

    Seeing our naivety exposed last week reminded me of Beckham and Rooney taking the bait in recent World Cups to see red. Just not savvy, streetwise enough. I live in the Land of Thick Envelopes. Not all of the world plays by our rules.

    I support investigative journalism Tim, but I can't help feeling the BBC took the bait just as much as Beckham and Rooney. Maybe I've missed it, but did Mark Thompson ask himself the question "Why has somebody decided to wait 10 years or whatever it was to make the BBC aware of this information only a few weeks before the vote?!"

    Another great insight, especially the history. Non-European history!

  • Comment number 6.

    ......and what of Enzo Francescoli Uriarte Mr. Hadfield who starred for Racing club Paris, Torino, Marseille and Cagliari, huh? You obviously do not have an inkling of what you're talking about!

  • Comment number 7.

    Recoba coped very well with Serie A and to say he never succeeded in Europe is harsh. Going further back there was Enzo Francescoli, a Uruguayan who certainly handled European football.

    http://footballfutbolfitba.wordpress.com/

  • Comment number 8.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 9.

    Excellent, excellent article Tim. By far the best in a long while. Your criticism of Rous is spot on.

    As far as the question on Recoba, Mr. Hadfield definitely does not have a clue about it. Perhaps he doesn't know of Forlan's two golden boots. He obviously has never heard of El Principe or five-time Italian champion Paolo Montero.

    Recoba was absolutely more talented than Forlan but you're completely right in Forlan being the more complete player.

  • Comment number 10.

    Good blog. I've a feeling that as much as the game has progressed worldwide in recent times, there is still a lot we can learn from the past.

    If you were interpreting for Dan Roan, why not just conduct the interview yourself? No matter, its been a few years since I've been a license payer, but it seems a bit frivolous.

  • Comment number 11.

    Recoba! Scored a few stupidly good goals, got injured all the time, was amazing on pro evo. Good times! I don't think he ever really fulfilled his potential, but he scored some great goals on the way!

    http://www.inofftheghost.wordpress.com

  • Comment number 12.

    Re my #8

    Oh and BTW, I actually supported the Spain - Portugal bid.

  • Comment number 13.

    Bravo on this piece... especially the assessment of the Rous presidency, you left out the conspiracy story regarding the 1966 World Cup quarterfinals draw... delegates of Argentina, Uruguay & the Soviet Union were summoned to a London hotel for the “drawing” of match referees, except when they arrived they were advised that the drawing had already been held and the referees had already been assigned! Amazingly FIFA then headed by the Englishman Sir Stanley Rous, stated that the drawing had been witnessed by himself, a West German delegate, a South African delegate and a Spanish delegate who was in transit at the time the drawing was held!

    Regarding Recoba... Ditto. Amazing player and yes probably more talented than Forlan but the mental aspect is clearly missing as was the desire.

  • Comment number 14.

    Gus Poyet, a successful player and now manager.

    I seem to recall that Recoba was the highest paid player by a big margin for a long time? Was it post Bosman, when instead of paying a tranfer fee for him, he got paid in wages, half of what the transfer fee would have been?

    What is the reaction in South America to all the Fifa dodgy dealings?
    Do they just see it as a business as usual?

  • Comment number 15.

    10 - i was interpreting for dan roan because the bbc couldn't find a way to fit my nose on the screen

  • Comment number 16.

    Ah, nostalgia. As an Inter fan, I cannot thank you enough for mentioning Alvaro Recoba. One of those rare pure footballing talents that, despite all his success, never really lived up to his true potential. My lasting memory of him is his winning goal against Sampdoria in the 2004/05 season. Inter were undefeated through 17 weeks (albeit with many draws) and Inter were down 0-2 at home until the 89th minute. An incredible injury time comeback, capped off with Recoba's amazing half-volley, helped secure a 3-2 win for Inter.

    Ah the memories of Serie A from days gone by...

  • Comment number 17.

    Uruguay's Top 10 players of the last 30 years:

    Rubén Sosa
    Francéscoli
    Fonseca
    Forlán
    Recoba
    Montero
    Luis Suárez
    Lugano
    Alzamendi
    Cavani

    Most of them had or are having pretty good careers in Europe.

    I agree with # 11. Recoba scored some amazing goals during a fairly successful career. But he never took it to the next level. His stint with Inter took place during some dark times for the Milan club.

    But the best one has to be Rubén Sosa. The incredible flying scissor kick goal he scored against Lazio in 94, if I'm not mistaken, is one of the best ever IMO.

  • Comment number 18.

    @Martin Hadfeld: Actually Recoba here in Uruguay is viewed as someone who could -almost- never deliver for the National Team. Good enough to start in any "small" European team (ie Venezia, where he was on loan), not good enough for a starting place at Inter, probably because of mental strength, he was never a world-class player, but he definately was a great player.

  • Comment number 19.

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  • Comment number 20.

    Sorry Tim to keep the discussion off track by our burst of nationalistic price, but you're all missing the largest case of unfulfilled futbol potential from an Uruguayan player: el mago Fabian O'Neill! A wonderful talent, an immense uninhibition to spill that talent in the field... but he didn't give a #$%# about it; he just wanted to go camping and fishing as an excuse to drink cheap wine.

    The reason for Recoba's huge salary is the same as the reason why so many Uruguayan players seem to struggle in Europe: Paco Casal. He is certainly one of the most skillful soccer agents out there - with all that being a skillful soccer agent implies - so he managed to send tons of mediocre futbolistas to very good teams in Europe... many of which just faded into oblivion. The latest success of Uruguay in the world cup is, I think, in part because this trend was reversed a bit in the last few years... the flow of Uruguayans to Europe is still steady, but now they go to teams where they have a more realistic chance of getting playtime. The Celeste did much better when made up of the Palito Pereira et al, not big stars but regularly playing in leagues like the Portuguesse or Dutch, than when it was made of "big stars" that got only some 15 minutes of play per month in the best teams of Italy.

  • Comment number 21.

    Very good article.

    However, my main point is concerning Fifa, simply because there were as many problems before Havelange does not justify the problems following it. The World Cup vote was vital as I feel it has made the public aware of the issues facing the organisation. It must change and this is not simply from a disenchanted England fan's point of view. In searching further afield, Fifa has alienated some of the original "footballing powers" for want of a better word. I am all for taking football to new places however I feel that the method in which it was done was incorrect. Why did Fifa not say they were looking for new challenges? And why do small countries such as Guatemala and Trinidad have votes on where the world cup goes? Fifa must clean up it's act, it is in fact similar to the Catholic Church in the mid 15th century, both are/were dysfunctional hierarchical organisations restricting power to a select view. Without a reform minded individual from within the organisation such as Paul III, Fifa will never change.

  • Comment number 22.

    There has been justifiable criticism against FIFA and there so-called "processes".

    There has been an incredible amount of money spent on the bids, yet bidders seem to be none the wiser as to why they lost. Will anyone else want to bid in future if they cannot make a reasonable assessment as to their chances of success?

    I want to know what the criteria were to assess bids against each otheron an equitable basis. How could such diverse bids such as Qatar and Japan and Australia be assessed? Why not have a transparent bidding process like other public organisations where the merits of each bid can be assessed.

    I suggest that some meaningful attributes would be:

    Tracking record of organising successful major events (Can they organise themselves?)
    * Potential revenue generated (Will it make us rich?)
    * Quality/Capacity of Infrastructure (Do they have the venues?)
    * Security/Risk management (Can they handle the nasty stuff?)
    * Extent of local engagement/participation in event (What will the atmosphere be like?)
    * Legacy (Are we boldly going where FIFA has never gone before?)
    I'm sure there could be others.

    RE Recoba: He had such incredible skill. I'm sure he thought he was the Maradona of Uruguay. A montage of his best would compare favourably to Dennis Bergkamp, I'm sure. However, when the going got tough (World Cup qualifying playoff 2006 for example, in Australia his head just imploded. Good to watch most days ...but not in key matches.

  • Comment number 23.

    Nowt like being relevant!

    Summat I need to ask you. Who won at the Battle of Hastings?

  • Comment number 24.

    The irony in all this, is that in 1974 when Havelange was elected as Fifa president to succeed Rous, the European press complained about vote-buying from African members.

    A great article Tim, but you overlook the role played by Ydnekatchew Tessema as well as Havelange in promoting football and human rights outside of Europe, notably in Africa. It was Tessema's unification of African football, his hard-line stance on apartheid and his own personal relationship with Havelange that saw the Brazilian elected in the first place.

    The fact that more Asian and African members joined Fifa during this time meant that the power-base have shifted away from Europe as they effectively outnumbered them. In the modern football era under Fifa, every member has a vote, so a voice from the Seychelles or Bhutan has just as much say as someone from England or Argentina.

  • Comment number 25.

    "One of the most noble tasks of journalism is to make those in power uncomfortable."

    The Times is owned by News Corporation which is a publicly-traded company listed on the NASDAQ and therefore it's primary duty is to deliver a return to shareholders.

    No doubt I will be moderated for doubting the nobility of the sting on Fifa ExCom members by linking it to the primary duty of News Corporation and it's subsidaries.

  • Comment number 26.

    I think the comment "Football today is a power that has to be applauded, there has been an extraordinary global expansion of the game" has to be clarified.

    When I last checked there are no additional major nations playing football and no additional major clubs new to the game. Crowds are not significantly higher, in fact they might be lower because of safety standards etc. Fitness & professionalism are certainly increased and with that brings players who can do 100m as quick as some Olympians but cannot control a ball or kick with both feet. Also, diving, cheating, cynical play etc. Teams like Barca are playing like the Hungarians of the 1960's which is great to see, but are FIFA responsible. No.

    So what is ACTUALLY being referred to by 'power' and 'expansion'. Oh, yes, the commercial exploitation of the game by the administrators (FIFA, UEFA, The Premier League etc), club owners (Man Utd, Liverpool etc) and players (Premiership wage bill now £1.3 BILLION per annum).

    So no better for fans then, certainly not proportionately better on par with the astronomical inflation busting increase in ticket prices and wages at the highest level. Well done FIFA, you have colonised football. And made 'subjects' of any football spectator or Sky subscriber.

    The way out of this 'power' and 'expansion'. Support your local club, join the supporters trust or society. Join the Football Supporters Federation. If your club does not have a supporters trust or society with a share in the club, start one with the help of Supporters Direct.

    Oh, if you watch Man Utd or Arsenal you are paying in to a machine that will eventually price you out of football. They earn 40% of the entire Premiership match day revenue between them. Good luck.

    FinanceFootballLeague

  • Comment number 27.

    “But Havelange added something else which is hard to refute.”Football today is a power that has to be applauded," he said. Indeed, there has been an extraordinary global expansion of the game since he replaced England's Stanley Rous as Fifa president in 1974. Football has conquered new territories. Havelange's plan to globalise the game, given continuity by his successor Sepp Blatter, has been an undeniable success.”

    Are you implying that the game has grown so much and “conquered new territories” because of Havelange, Blatter, and FIFA?! I would not agree with that.

  • Comment number 28.

    “There seems to be an underlying belief that everything was rosy in the garden while the English were in charge.”

    I’ve never heard that, the South America / Europe rivalry has been going on for years.

    “Some of England's problems inside Fifa may date from this time - there are some old men on Fifa's executive committee with long memories.”

    I think you’ll find it goes back much further, just look at the founding members of FIFA; Belgium, Denmark, France, The Netherlands, Spain, Sweden and Switzerland.

    FIFA is a private club, they do whatever they want, with no accountability. Unfortunately FIFA abuses its power. This isn’t news. I hope it changes, but I can’t see how it will.

  • Comment number 29.

    26 etc

    condemn havelange all you like - but after a fair hearing.
    no new territories? The US now has a consolidated league, much better than the showbiz version of the 70s. Could that be imagined in 74?

    What about Asia? Do you remember Japanese football in 74? In the 80s when English clubs used to go there to face the South American champions one of the justifications for not taking the thing seriously was the location - how can you have football in Japan? No one's laughing now.

  • Comment number 30.

    28 quotes from the piece
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    History teaches us that Fifa has changed little
    Post categories: Football

    Tim Vickery | 14:44 UK time, Monday, 6 December 2010

    A couple of weeks ago I was doing the translating when Dan Roan interviewed former Fifa president Joao Havelange at the Soccerex conference in Rio de Janeiro.

    Still entirely lucid well into his 90s, the Brazilian was asked what needed to change in Fifa. "Nothing," he replied. "It's perfect. It's not because of one fact in 50 years [a reference to the recent corruption scandals] that we have to change."

    It is impossible to agree.

    The facts would appear to be not one but many. Hiding behind its status as a not-for-profit organisation, Fifa's lack of transparency is surely unsustainable.

    But Havelange added something else which is hard to refute. "Football today is a power that has to be applauded," he said. Indeed, there has been an extraordinary global expansion of the game since he replaced England's Stanley Rous as Fifa president in 1974. Football has conquered new territories. Havelange's plan to globalise the game, given continuity by his successor Sepp Blatter, has been an undeniable success.

    Nowadays, football generates rivers of money from sponsors and television rights - and it is alleged that some of this money has been finding its way into private bank accounts. The corruption is an unwelcome spin-off from the success of the game.

    Some may disagree but I am in favour of the investigative work carried out by elements of the British media. One of the most noble tasks of journalism is to make those in power uncomfortable. No-one is obliged to become a sports administrator. Of course they must account for their actions. The investigative work of the free press must continue.

    But I also believe that some of this investigative work suffers from a lack of context. The corruption is attacked without any sense of its relationship to the success of the game. There seems to be an underlying belief that everything was rosy in the garden while the English were in charge.

    In comparison with the shenanigans of the Havelange/Blatter years, the time in which Fifa was presided over by Rous is held up as a kind of paradise lost. Yet the record books do not make quite such impressive reading.

    Sir Stanley Rous (centre) was Fifa president from 1961 to 1974. Photo: Getty Images

    Under Rous, Europe dominated Fifa. Of the 32 games at the 1966 World Cup, 25 had European referees, who gave Pele no protection as he was kicked out of the tournament and made a hash of the quarter-finals, thereby alienating the South Americans.

    Relations with Africa were strained for two reasons. Firstly, because Rous was reluctant to give them automatic World Cup qualification, using the argument that their standard of play was not high enough. But how could they improve without the chance to learn at the top level? Then there was Rous's position in favour of apartheid South Africa. His judgement looked poor at the time but appears disastrous in hindsight.

    Further nations were alienated by one of the darkest chapters in Fifa's history: the decision to authorise the World Cup play-off match between Chile and the Soviet Union in Santiago's National Stadium in November 1973.

    General Augusto Pinochet had launched his coup in Chile on 11 September and had used the National Stadium as a concentration camp for his political opponents. Hundreds were murdered there and thousands were tortured. Two weeks before the game was due to take place, the remaining prisoners were either released or moved to other institutions and the bloodstains were hurriedly removed.

    The Soviet Union quite correctly refused to play in such a venue. Staging the match in Uruguay would have been an acceptable compromise but Fifa ordered the game to go ahead and Chile eventually took the field with no opposition.

    Making such a monumental humanitarian blunder would seem to indicate that Rous was some way out of his depth on the global stage. But while the British investigative journalists have gone after the Fifa of Havelange and Blatter, they have been less inclined to turn their guns on the reign of Rous, who attempted to hold the moral high ground with his holier-than-thou tone.

    Some of England's problems inside Fifa may date from this time - there are some old men on Fifa's executive committee with long memories.

    Havelange is still going strong at 94. Photo: AP

    And so with England left on the outside, the Havelange/Blatter project goes on. Fifa's quest to take the World Cup all a round the globe is both laudable and problematic.

    The former because the game belongs to the people. The latter because there is always the risk that the people end up paying more than they should for the privilege.

    Fifa is so powerful that it is able to bully the host nation. Its own business is low risk - it makes money from the sale of television rights. Meanwhile, it receives all kinds of tax breaks and pressures the government to spend money not only on infrastructure but also on stadiums - some of which become white elephants.

    In the developing world, where governments have so many other pressing priorities, this is a cause for concern.

    Moreover, all that spending on stadiums and infrastructure inevitably produces opportunities for money to be siphoned off into private pockets. Once again, the corruption in football is connected to the game's global expansion.

    Comments on the piece in the space provided. Questions on South American football to vickerycolumn@hotmail.com, and I'll pick out a couple for next week.

    From last week's postbag:

    Q) I remember in the late 1990s Alvaro Recoba was being touted as a potential great. His style of play reminds me of Robin van Persie. I was wondering why his obvious talent was never fulfilled and why he never succeeded in the European game. It would appear players from Uruguay struggle to adapt to the European leagues, talented players such as Recoba, Fabian Carini, Diego Forlan and Lodeiro have either failed or struggled. Is there a key element to the Uruguayan style which hinders footballers moving to Europe? In terms of ability, I have always looked at Recoba as more gifted than compatriot Forlan. What is the general belief from the Uruguayan fans on this point?
    Martin Hadfield

    A) I think you've been hard on Uruguayans. Plenty have succeeded in Europe. Of the list you mentioned, Lodeiro has hardly started and Forlan has been an undoubted success. And I'm not really sure that it's fair to say that Recoba didn't succeed in Europe - he scored more than 50 goals for Inter Milan.

    It is correct, though, that he never took the step up to become a true great. I think most would share your view that he is more naturally talented than Forlan. But I think he lacks Forlan's mental strength. The truly great player makes himself indispensable at key moments but Recoba has always given the impression of an impish kid, rather than a player you can rely on to come good when you need him.

    Q) While travelling in South America, I saw a feature on the Corinthians goalkeeper Julio Cesar. In it was footage of some unbelievable double and sometimes triple saves. I hadn't seen saves like that since Neville Southall was at his peak. He's clearly a great shot stopper and acrobatic, too. However, he's not that young and relatively inexperienced. Do you think he could play a role for Brazil in the national team?
    James Tenniswood

    A) He has come through from nowhere this season and enjoyed an excellent campaign, although he gave away a goal on Sunday with an awful kicking error. Brazil has become a first class producer of goalkeepers. Who would have thought, 30 years ago, that Brazil would be exporting keepers to Europe? So there is a lot of competition for the national team. But playing for Corinthians gives Julio Cesar a powerful constituency. He's already 26, so no time to waste. Another good year with Corinthians, especially if they can win next year's Libertadores, might be enough to get him into contention.

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    Previous Next 1. At 5:17pm on 06 Dec 2010, WalkingMzungu wrote:
    Excellent and very timely article, Tim. I remember when I first read about the Chile - Soviet "match" (in Eduardo Galeano's book). I couldn't believe it.

    As for Alvaro Recoba, he was indeed magnificently gifted: had the pleasure of watching him live once in his first Serie A season and he was outstanding.

    However, I suspect his mind was too often centred on the game's peripherals. If memory serves, he had it written into his contract with Inter that he should always be the highest-paid player at the club. Surely such an obsession with money can only be detrimental to a player's development?

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    4. At 5:53pm on 06 Dec 2010, vic wrote:
    Eduardo Galeano's book is truely great. He is also Uruguayan by the way! It is a great account how things were (and are) run globally.

    Also answers to the first question would be Rubén Sosa who was a prolific striker and Paolo Montero who was a great defender..

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    5. At 6:25pm on 06 Dec 2010, Drooper_ wrote:
    I remember seeing an ITV documentary with Jonathan Pilger doing a Michael Moore on Havelange in the 70s or 80s Tim, but as you point out, in England no-one seemed to be questioning what had gone before, especially when it was the classic English gentleman who had been at the helm during England's halcyon days. Those stats and revelations are real eyeopeners to me, food for thought that would have served well on some of last weeks more mainstream (no offence intended) blogs.

    Seeing our naivety exposed last week reminded me of Beckham and Rooney taking the bait in recent World Cups to see red. Just not savvy, streetwise enough. I live in the Land of Thick Envelopes. Not all of the world plays by our rules.

    I support investigative journalism Tim, but I can't help feeling the BBC took the bait just as much as Beckham and Rooney. Maybe I've missed it, but did Mark Thompson ask himself the question "Why has somebody decided to wait 10 years or whatever it was to make the BBC aware of this information only a few weeks before the vote?!"

    Another great insight, especially the history. Non-European history!

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    6. At 6:26pm on 06 Dec 2010, PanteroNegro wrote:
    ......and what of Enzo Francescoli Uriarte Mr. Hadfield who starred for Racing club Paris, Torino, Marseille and Cagliari, huh? You obviously do not have an inkling of what you're talking about!

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    7. At 6:27pm on 06 Dec 2010, footballfutbolfitba wrote:
    Recoba coped very well with Serie A and to say he never succeeded in Europe is harsh. Going further back there was Enzo Francescoli, a Uruguayan who certainly handled European football.

    http://footballfutbolfitba.wordpress.com/

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    8. At 6:53pm on 06 Dec 2010, cool_brush_work wrote:
    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the House Rules.

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    9. At 7:00pm on 06 Dec 2010, Juan in Florida wrote:
    Excellent, excellent article Tim. By far the best in a long while. Your criticism of Rous is spot on.

    As far as the question on Recoba, Mr. Hadfield definitely does not have a clue about it. Perhaps he doesn't know of Forlan's two golden boots. He obviously has never heard of El Principe or five-time Italian champion Paolo Montero.

    Recoba was absolutely more talented than Forlan but you're completely right in Forlan being the more complete player.

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    10. At 7:04pm on 06 Dec 2010, timberdoodle wrote:
    Good blog. I've a feeling that as much as the game has progressed worldwide in recent times, there is still a lot we can learn from the past.

    If you were interpreting for Dan Roan, why not just conduct the interview yourself? No matter, its been a few years since I've been a license payer, but it seems a bit frivolous.

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    11. At 7:05pm on 06 Dec 2010, In Off The Ghost wrote:
    Recoba! Scored a few stupidly good goals, got injured all the time, was amazing on pro evo. Good times! I don't think he ever really fulfilled his potential, but he scored some great goals on the way!

    http://www.inofftheghost.wordpress.com



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    12. At 7:09pm on 06 Dec 2010, cool_brush_work wrote:
    Re my #8

    Oh and BTW, I actually supported the Spain - Portugal bid.

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    13. At 7:12pm on 06 Dec 2010, El Presidente wrote:
    Bravo on this piece... especially the assessment of the Rous presidency, you left out the conspiracy story regarding the 1966 World Cup quarterfinals draw... delegates of Argentina, Uruguay & the Soviet Union were summoned to a London hotel for the “drawing” of match referees, except when they arrived they were advised that the drawing had already been held and the referees had already been assigned! Amazingly FIFA then headed by the Englishman Sir Stanley Rous, stated that the drawing had been witnessed by himself, a West German delegate, a South African delegate and a Spanish delegate who was in transit at the time the drawing was held!

    Regarding Recoba... Ditto. Amazing player and yes probably more talented than Forlan but the mental aspect is clearly missing as was the desire.

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    14. At 7:14pm on 06 Dec 2010, threeofclubs wrote:
    Gus Poyet, a successful player and now manager.

    I seem to recall that Recoba was the highest paid player by a big margin for a long time? Was it post Bosman, when instead of paying a tranfer fee for him, he got paid in wages, half of what the transfer fee would have been?

    What is the reaction in South America to all the Fifa dodgy dealings?
    Do they just see it as a business as usual?

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    15. At 7:14pm on 06 Dec 2010, you wrote:
    10 - i was interpreting for dan roan because the bbc couldn't find a way to fit my nose on the screen

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    16. At 7:14pm on 06 Dec 2010, waldovski wrote:
    Ah, nostalgia. As an Inter fan, I cannot thank you enough for mentioning Alvaro Recoba. One of those rare pure footballing talents that, despite all his success, never really lived up to his true potential. My lasting memory of him is his winning goal against Sampdoria in the 2004/05 season. Inter were undefeated through 17 weeks (albeit with many draws) and Inter were down 0-2 at home until the 89th minute. An incredible injury time comeback, capped off with Recoba's amazing half-volley, helped secure a 3-2 win for Inter.

    Ah the memories of Serie A from days gone by...

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    17. At 7:44pm on 06 Dec 2010, AntonioSaucedo wrote:
    Uruguay's Top 10 players of the last 30 years:

    Rubén Sosa
    Francéscoli
    Fonseca
    Forlán
    Recoba
    Montero
    Luis Suárez
    Lugano
    Alzamendi
    Cavani

    Most of them had or are having pretty good careers in Europe.

    I agree with # 11. Recoba scored some amazing goals during a fairly successful career. But he never took it to the next level. His stint with Inter took place during some dark times for the Milan club.

    But the best one has to be Rubén Sosa. The incredible flying scissor kick goal he scored against Lazio in 94, if I'm not mistaken, is one of the best ever IMO.


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    18. At 8:26pm on 06 Dec 2010, Pablo wrote:
    @Martin Hadfeld: Actually Recoba here in Uruguay is viewed as someone who could -almost- never deliver for the National Team. Good enough to start in any "small" European team (ie Venezia, where he was on loan), not good enough for a starting place at Inter, probably because of mental strength, he was never a world-class player, but he definately was a great player.

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    19. At 8:37pm on 06 Dec 2010, Fútbol Fútbol Fútbol wrote:
    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the House Rules.

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    20. At 8:57pm on 06 Dec 2010, ppKlvs wrote:
    Sorry Tim to keep the discussion off track by our burst of nationalistic price, but you're all missing the largest case of unfulfilled futbol potential from an Uruguayan player: el mago Fabian O'Neill! A wonderful talent, an immense uninhibition to spill that talent in the field... but he didn't give a #$%# about it; he just wanted to go camping and fishing as an excuse to drink cheap wine.

    The reason for Recoba's huge salary is the same as the reason why so many Uruguayan players seem to struggle in Europe: Paco Casal. He is certainly one of the most skillful soccer agents out there - with all that being a skillful soccer agent implies - so he managed to send tons of mediocre futbolistas to very good teams in Europe... many of which just faded into oblivion. The latest success of Uruguay in the world cup is, I think, in part because this trend was reversed a bit in the last few years... the flow of Uruguayans to Europe is still steady, but now they go to teams where they have a more realistic chance of getting playtime. The Celeste did much better when made up of the Palito Pereira et al, not big stars but regularly playing in leagues like the Portuguesse or Dutch, than when it was made of "big stars" that got only some 15 minutes of play per month in the best teams of Italy.

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    21. At 9:52pm on 06 Dec 2010, Jamie B wrote:
    Very good article.

    However, my main point is concerning Fifa, simply because there were as many problems before Havelange does not justify the problems following it. The World Cup vote was vital as I feel it has made the public aware of the issues facing the organisation. It must change and this is not simply from a disenchanted England fan's point of view. In searching further afield, Fifa has alienated some of the original "footballing powers" for want of a better word. I am all for taking football to new places however I feel that the method in which it was done was incorrect. Why did Fifa not say they were looking for new challenges? And why do small countries such as Guatemala and Trinidad have votes on where the world cup goes? Fifa must clean up it's act, it is in fact similar to the Catholic Church in the mid 15th century, both are/were dysfunctional hierarchical organisations restricting power to a select view. Without a reform minded individual from within the organisation such as Paul III, Fifa will never change.

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    22. At 9:58pm on 06 Dec 2010, and_Zico_scores wrote:
    There has been justifiable criticism against FIFA and there so-called "processes".

    There has been an incredible amount of money spent on the bids, yet bidders seem to be none the wiser as to why they lost. Will anyone else want to bid in future if they cannot make a reasonable assessment as to their chances of success?

    I want to know what the criteria were to assess bids against each otheron an equitable basis. How could such diverse bids such as Qatar and Japan and Australia be assessed? Why not have a transparent bidding process like other public organisations where the merits of each bid can be assessed.

    I suggest that some meaningful attributes would be:

    Tracking record of organising successful major events (Can they organise themselves?)
    * Potential revenue generated (Will it make us rich?)
    * Quality/Capacity of Infrastructure (Do they have the venues?)
    * Security/Risk management (Can they handle the nasty stuff?)
    * Extent of local engagement/participation in event (What will the atmosphere be like?)
    * Legacy (Are we boldly going where FIFA has never gone before?)
    I'm sure there could be others.

    RE Recoba: He had such incredible skill. I'm sure he thought he was the Maradona of Uruguay. A montage of his best would compare favourably to Dennis Bergkamp, I'm sure. However, when the going got tough (World Cup qualifying playoff 2006 for example, in Australia his head just imploded. Good to watch most days ...but not in key matches.

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    23. At 10:05pm on 06 Dec 2010, Karlswfc wrote:
    Nowt like being relevant!

    Summat I need to ask you. Who won at the Battle of Hastings?



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    24. At 10:07pm on 06 Dec 2010, Aarfy_Aardvark wrote:
    The irony in all this, is that in 1974 when Havelange was elected as Fifa president to succeed Rous, the European press complained about vote-buying from African members.

    A great article Tim, but you overlook the role played by Ydnekatchew Tessema as well as Havelange in promoting football and human rights outside of Europe, notably in Africa. It was Tessema's unification of African football, his hard-line stance on apartheid and his own personal relationship with Havelange that saw the Brazilian elected in the first place.

    The fact that more Asian and African members joined Fifa during this time meant that the power-base have shifted away from Europe as they effectively outnumbered them. In the modern football era under Fifa, every member has a vote, so a voice from the Seychelles or Bhutan has just as much say as someone from England or Argentina.

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    25. At 10:11pm on 06 Dec 2010, strettonbluenose wrote:
    "One of the most noble tasks of journalism is to make those in power uncomfortable."

    The Times is owned by News Corporation which is a publicly-traded company listed on the NASDAQ and therefore it's primary duty is to deliver a return to shareholders.

    No doubt I will be moderated for doubting the nobility of the sting on Fifa ExCom members by linking it to the primary duty of News Corporation and it's subsidaries.

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    26. At 11:06pm on 06 Dec 2010, FinanceFootballLeague wrote:
    I think the comment "Football today is a power that has to be applauded, there has been an extraordinary global expansion of the game" has to be clarified.

    When I last checked there are no additional major nations playing football and no additional major clubs new to the game. Crowds are not significantly higher, in fact they might be lower because of safety standards etc. Fitness & professionalism are certainly increased and with that brings players who can do 100m as quick as some Olympians but cannot control a ball or kick with both feet. Also, diving, cheating, cynical play etc. Teams like Barca are playing like the Hungarians of the 1960's which is great to see, but are FIFA responsible. No.

    So what is ACTUALLY being referred to by 'power' and 'expansion'. Oh, yes, the commercial exploitation of the game by the administrators (FIFA, UEFA, The Premier League etc), club owners (Man Utd, Liverpool etc) and players (Premiership wage bill now £1.3 BILLION per annum).

    So no better for fans then, certainly not proportionately better on par with the astronomical inflation busting increase in ticket prices and wages at the highest level. Well done FIFA, you have colonised football. And made 'subjects' of any football spectator or Sky subscriber.

    The way out of this 'power' and 'expansion'. Support your local club, join the supporters trust or society. Join the Football Supporters Federation. If your club does not have a supporters trust or society with a share in the club, start one with the help of Supporters Direct.

    Oh, if you watch Man Utd or Arsenal you are paying in to a machine that will eventually price you out of football. They earn 40% of the entire Premiership match day revenue between them. Good luck.

    FinanceFootballLeague

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    27. At 11:37pm on 06 Dec 2010, Fat Bloke Down The Pub Said So wrote:
    “But Havelange added something else which is hard to refute.”Football today is a power that has to be applauded," he said. Indeed, there has been an extraordinary global expansion of the game since he replaced England's Stanley Rous as Fifa president in 1974. Football has conquered new territories. Havelange's plan to globalise the game, given continuity by his successor Sepp Blatter, has been an undeniable success.”

    Are you implying that the game has grown so much and “conquered new territories” because of Havelange, Blatter, and FIFA?! I would not agree with that.


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    28 wrote:
    “There seems to be an underlying belief that everything was rosy in the garden while the English were in charge.”

    and then disagrees.

    "I’ve never heard that, the South America / Europe rivalry has been going on for years."

    You've twisted whayt i wrote. The 'underlying belief' refers not to any south american dissatisfaction, but to the british media.

    There have been lots of investigative attacks by the british media on havelange/blatter. can you find me one on rous? OK, it's not corruption, but there's no shortage of material - and, for our unhistorically minded correspondent (no 23), it's relevant.

    If, as so many people have been saying, there's an anti-english feeling in FIFA, then i believe that some of that is a hangover from the rous era.

  • Comment number 31.

    sorry folks - meant to copy a little but, and somehow in the depths of my technological incompetence ended up copying the whole lot. apologies.

  • Comment number 32.

    Okay Tim the English are to blame and they deserve everything they get. Perhaps they should just withdraw from soccer for a couple of centuries so that people can forget what a bad man Rous was etc.

    For heavens sake we are talking about 2010 not 1974 and if people have grudges that far back then it is a very sad state of affairs.

    Plus maybe you can write about why Australia missed out in the first round???

  • Comment number 33.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 34.

    here in South America many football journalists have regarded the World Cup bid selection as a disgrace, especially Qatar 2022. As the old european press points out, they see it as if FIFA sold the world cup to the one who offered the most cash. But there's no surprise, FIFA's choice confirmed what everybody knew, we just thought they were going to be more subtle, maybe awarding 2018 to England or Spain/Portugal and 2022 to Qatar, or 2018 to Russia and 2022 to USA or Australia; but they showed us that they only care about money, not the footballing tradition and the fans. Russia has had some good players, they participate in the Euros or WC from time to time, but Qatar is a travesty, a country that has no recognized footballers, never qualified for the WC and where drinking alcohol is forbidden and women have many restrictions. FIFA seem to have forgotten about their fans.
    Whenever they show here an occassional mexican football match played in the Estadio Azteca you always remember the stories of Pele or Maradona, or when you wander around the food area in the New Wembley and you see the pictures of the legendary moments, you go back to your childhood, to the memory of heroes, but in 2022, the stadiums that hopefully will host some historic moments will be dismantled and you'll never be able to breathe the history of the stadium again.

  • Comment number 35.

    “What about Asia? Do you remember Japanese football in 74? In the 80s when English clubs used to go there to face the South American champions one of the justifications for not taking the thing seriously was the location - how can you have football in Japan? No one's laughing now.”

    Japan won the bronze medal at the 1968 Olympics, drawing with Brazil and Spain in the groups then beating Mexico for the 3rd place. Japanese people looked around for the biggest club, at the time it was Man Utd, European Champions and that’s a major reason why Man Utd are so popular there. And England were the world champions, so they respect the English game, although hooliganism dented that a fair bit.

    In 1993 they were desperate to qualify for their first world cup, FIFA at the time said a country couldn’t host the finals if they had never qualified. That has certainly changed!

    “If, as so many people have been saying, there's an anti-english feeling in FIFA, then i believe that some of that is a hangover from the rous era.”

    No doubt.

  • Comment number 36.

    Hi tim!

    What do you think of Fluminense as a team?

    Dont you think Dario Conca is being mass inflated by the brazilian press? To me he seemes like a normal player, with a tendency to fall on physical contact, not that much of a great of a passer and a normal/decent kicking.. Emerson, Diguinho are much more impressive to me;.

    Who do you think will win the libertadores 2011

  • Comment number 37.

    “But Havelange added something else which is hard to refute.”Football today is a power that has to be applauded," he said. Indeed, there has been an extraordinary global expansion of the game since he replaced England's Stanley Rous as Fifa president in 1974. Football has conquered new territories. Havelange's plan to globalise the game, given continuity by his successor Sepp Blatter, has been an undeniable success.”

    Are you implying that the game has grown so much and “conquered new territories” because of Havelange, Blatter, and FIFA!?

  • Comment number 38.

    Recoba was a genius (one of the sweetest left pegs I've seen since Gheorghe Hagi) but I think he was out of his depth physically in Italy, perhaps a stint in Spain would have been much better for his career and more suited to his footballing talents.

    I would like to ask Tim, are the legends Roberto Carlos and Ronaldo doing themselves justice this year at Corinthians?

  • Comment number 39.

    Well done Tim.Havelange,Blatter and FIFA may have all the evils of big power but their development of futbol all over the world has been nothing short of remarkable.The Europeans nor indeed the South Americans may like it but Mexico,THe Unied States,Corea and Japan are all heading to major powere status.When the African countries reach a certain level of economic development they too will have their powers.Rous and his screwing of the South Americans in 1966 changed FIFa for ever.Its extraordinary how the English the inventors of the game are not delighting in Russia the Worlds largest country and a country in the Arab World will stage 2018 and 2022 World cups.Its a wonderful thing for World futbol and I am sure they will be great successes.I think the real problem for some is that for all its current power the Champions league is already on the way down and futbols next revolution will be in the club field again with FIFA leading the way.Wont old europe love that

  • Comment number 40.

    Dear Tim,
    Congratulations on the blog and this specific article. I am Portuguese and therefore supported the Iberian bid this time round. However my mother is English and as such half of my family are English too. I appreciate the way in which the English play the game and indeed I was very lucky to live there during University! there still is a difference in comparison to the latin and south american countries... However, I believe there is a deeper problem which English public opinion refuses to accept. For example,the QF referee draw in 66 was mentioned. But No one mentions how Portugal were clearly pushed away from the final by firstly having the venue changed from Liverpool to London the day before (against WC rules at the time) and the fact that at the end of the match Eusebio is violently hacked down by Nobby Stiles...
    The FA in my opinion has to stop this attitude that they are honest while others are corrupt as it is not true and quite frankly it just antagonises the rest of the world. Have you heard Portugal, Spain, Belgium, US etc put up half of the fuss? I think FIFA is appaling and it must be changed but lets not forget it was even worse and possibly suffered from more cronyism when run by a so called British Gentleman.

  • Comment number 41.

    Great article Tim. A few comments - Joao Havelange wouldn't want anything to change, when he and his family have done so well out of Fifa and The World Cup over the years. Wasn't it his son-in-law Ricardo Teixeira that was partly implicated in the recent Panorama programme into bribery?

    The Summer Olympics 2016 stadium is named after the ex-Fifa president - Estádio Olímpico João Havelange...all is rosy in his family's garden.

    No gripes about England not hosting 2018 and any negative remarkes are only put down to 'sour grapes', but the 'new frontiers' arguement doesn't wash when Havelange's own country Brazil are hosting the event for their second time in 2014 and Blatter didn't make it a requirement in costly the bidding process. Russia is already well on the way to building a top league without Fifa's help due to it's rich oligarch's and is it a co-incidence the two chosen countries are both - new money? The former Soviets always took a big interest in football. How has soccer in South Africa taken off since the summer or did the U.S. after '94 or do both countries still follow the Premier League as their main soccer interest?

  • Comment number 42.

    Whatever Stanley Rous did or didn't do before 1974 is completely irrelevant to the scandal of the 2018/2022 voting. Don't try and justify what has just happened by saying "it was just as bad when the English ran FIFA". Maybe it was just as bad, but that doesn't make it right. In 2010 I would hope we would be just as critical of an opaque, dishonest, English-led FIFA as we are of the Blatter-led version.

  • Comment number 43.

    hacked down in the box in the 88th minute which would have brought on overtime. In fact when I think of shameful WCs in recent history (cant comment Italy in 30s...) Argentina 78 is clearly the worst followed by England in 66 and S korea 2002. In terms of Euros, England 96 with Spain having 2 clear goals disallowed jumps to mind. Another thing that others do not love to hear and that does England no favours are the claims that football is coming home... Brazil could claim something similar but dont. they do not brag and they let there achievements talk for themselves... England have the best fans but in terms of footballing quality the best since 66 is a SF in Italy and a semifinal in 96 (which should never have happened...)How can England still be respected as a global force with such poor results in the last 40 years. Portugal beating England in 86 was a massive shock and practically a national holiday. Nowadays when we (portugal) play England, we always go in with the belief that we are better. If a tiny nation like Portugal feels this way, how will Spain, Italy, France, Germany, Brazil etc...
    ps- dont get me wrong, I would love to play a WC final in Maracana or Wembley more than any other stadium...

  • Comment number 44.

    I don't see how Stanley Rous can be blamed for bad refereeing.

    In 1986 England were eliminated by the Hand of God goal- did anyone say in England that it was Havelange's fault and he instructed the ref to allow Maradona's handball?

    The same goes for Lampard's valid goal against Germany at 1-2 which was not given in this year's World Cup. Do we blame Blatter and the Swiss personally for that?

    I think the Stanley Rous stuff is nonsense- although clearly foreigners resented it that an englishman was head of FIFA.

    I think that Britain (England) as a country attracts negative feeling and jealousy for several complex reasons. Firstly, our imperialist past which has led to negative feeling toward us, particularly perhaps in Africa and Asia. We are seen stereotypically as an arrogant, cold, superior, racist and xenophobic nation by many in the world, despite modern globalisation and cultural change.

    We have never had good relations with France, Germany, Russia and to a lesser extent Spain in Europe- the powerful nations of the European game. Politically we are outcasts, and our allies tend to be english-speaking former colonies such as USA, Canada, Australia.

    In football terms, our World Cup win in 1966 was resented as we were hosts and won, and we had boycotted the first few World Cups.

    We were resented for dominating the European Cups in the 1970s and early 1980s. Our hooligans gave us a bad reputation and also other European nations saw the political division of the UK and Ireland into five different national teams as 'cheating' as Scottish, Irish, Welsh players didn't count as 'foreigners' in english club sides.

    UEFA were very happy to ban us for five years as a result after the Heysel disaster.

    Since these days we have been practically political outcasts in football. It was a miracle we got Euro 96 but then we reneged on our agreement with Germany not to bid for the 2006 World Cup. That lost us potential allies in the Germans, and as you saw in the 2018 bid, Germany backed the Russians.

    We are disasters at playing the political game, and there are numerous complex historic reasons, political and sporting, why we can't generate good will from nations around the world.

  • Comment number 45.

    It's a nice history lesson Tim but in the modern world FIFA is an archaic organisation no fit for purpose. Qatar 2022 just takes the biscuit

  • Comment number 46.

    "Seeing our naivety exposed last week reminded me of Beckham and Rooney taking the bait in recent World Cups to see red. Just not savvy, streetwise enough. I live in the Land of Thick Envelopes. Not all of the world plays by our rules.

    I support investigative journalism Tim, but I can't help feeling the BBC took the bait just as much as Beckham and Rooney. Maybe I've missed it, but did Mark Thompson ask himself the question "Why has somebody decided to wait 10 years or whatever it was to make the BBC aware of this information only a few weeks before the vote?!"

    Another great insight, especially the history. Non-European history! "

    ----------------------------------------------------------
    FOOD FOR THOUGHT!

  • Comment number 47.

    Sure, the English game may be as dodgy as any other, and its parochialism is the stuff of legend.

    Yet obviously Russia is the better choice - the place is practically a world onto itself and to put in place the infrastructure and other WC benefits that go with a world cup will be a fantastic investment. After all, football in England does not need a boost, it's all-powerful already.

    But Qatar? I don't see it at all. Why not, at least, choose a bigger country where the infrastructure won't be flat-packed, to be disassembled and sent off somewhere else later.

    Of course, maybe Qatar will prove an inspired choice in the long run, and all of us will look back and wonder why we doubted FIFA's choice.

  • Comment number 48.

    One interesting question I look forward to having answered in the British press is who will get the contracts in Russia and Qatar to put in place the required WC infrastructure.

    FIFA is built on a truly brilliant model. First, get someone to buy you handbags for the privilege of having the WC. Then force them to spend huge amounts of money on things you tell them are needed, which are then provided by your mates at a fair price.

    Of course, this is a business model we see elsewhere, in government procurement, for example, from Iraq rebuilding efforts to Westminster stationery.

    If only we could all get in on the act.

  • Comment number 49.

    Tim, excellent article! This comes from a person who is not normally a fan of yours and who deems your articles as being out of touch with British or world football.

    Wow, British media have given a passage-libre for apartheid & Pinochet supporter (and let's be frank - an outright racist Rous) and are giving a hard time to Blatter? They complain about anti-British conspiracy? This is karma in its best.

    This being said, British media scrutiny has highlighted major issues within current FIFA, and Blatter will do good to pay attention and remedy problems.

  • Comment number 50.

    Great article Tim

    Very interesting to read about the Rous years at Fifa. You are correct that his years in charge are portrayed as perfect by the UK media, whethers the reality is somewhat different. I certainly feel that he 'eased the way' for England in 1966.

    With regards to the English bid for the World Cup hosting rights, what a drama! Apparently Fifa is bias for going elsewhere. Absolute garbage. I have always felt that Fifa's primary role is to expand the game into different countries and continents. Moving the World Cup to Russia made sense as it has huge untapped potential to expand as a footballing power (along with the rest of Eastern Europe). I am less sure about Quatar as hosts for 2022, I would have thought Australia would have made more sense, but I believe that 2022 will be seen by Fifa as breaking down some cultural boundaries.

    I always felt that the English bid with the perceived positive of most of the Stadia been built, was actually a weakness. Look at the investment in football the new stadiums in Russia will bring (Hopefully they will not be ignored after the World Cup). Sadly it appears that the vast majority of English fans have an insular (Premier League) view of football, and if it doesn't happen in England it is either corrupt or inferior! Fifa's mistake in my opinion was to not establish that the most important criteria for the bid was that Football will be introduced to a new Country and Audience. So congratulations should go to Russia and Quatar.

    As for Recoba, I can remember watching him in Serie A and he had the natural balance and technique which makes left footed players so beautiful to watch. Perhaps he never reached his true potential, but I don't think he can be described as a failure. Also when talking about succesful Uruguayans abroad, lets not ignore Paulo Montero. A tough tackling, cynical and highly succesful defender.

  • Comment number 51.

    I was a student in GB at the time of the 66 Cup, and even acted as interpreter in the B"ham area. I seem to remember the Pele massacre, by the great Eusebio's team, with the referee looking the other way. And I also remember the sad little team England fielded against Uruguay in the first game nil-nil. The players were such a bunch that 3 or 4 of them missed the salute to the Queen at the end of the game !! Sportsmanslike !!
    and I also remember UY;Germany having a British referee, with a Uru player paid off by the germans. He got the red card and then was hired by Aachen FC !! And simultaneously England vs Argentina with a german referee, whio threw out Rattin (captain) when R asked what had happened in a play !!

    Out Brit fried seems to forget that we are a country of 3 million, with over 1000 players outside Uruguay. and in case he does not get the idea, he can go to a pro-brit web, such as FIFA, and find that UY has the top side over England on international (and WC) games.

    Imagine, people who think that Nobby Stiles was a great, and that Beckham is a demi God should concentrate on cricket.

  • Comment number 52.

    Interesting article Tim and I also found posts 44 & 48 relevant.

    This is obviously a complex issue, that there are some anti-English feeling in the game feels like its probably true (for some/all of the reasons) above. That there are some reciprocal lingering xenophobic tendencies, as shown in our press, which aggravates this is also probably true (and I'm talking about tabloid headlines rather than the corruption investigations).

    So to me, there are two main issues here. Firstly and most importantly, the opaqueness around FIFA. Why can they not publish a clear criteria for how the World Cup bids should be assessed and how therefore the recent bids were assessed? How can they dictate tax law to host nations? How can they dictate (as point 48) what needs to be built and by whom? To coin a phrase 'Who Watches the Watchmen?'. This is the crux of the matter to me - FIFA are no longer (if ever) an independent board ensuring the game/major tournaments are run correctly. Its like letting the directors of large banks become members of the (what was) FSA and then setting financial law. They have vested interests. This could change if a number of powerful national FA's team together and refuse to play ball until a truly independent governing board is elected and there is clear opaqueness around all FIFA decision making processes (which if you have a will to do, is perfectly possible). I can't see this happening, full stop.

    The second issue is around the image of the English in our game. Much as I think on all sides, issues of many years ago should be let go, I honestly believe our press (again, I'm excluding the recent corruption investigations) are really holding us back. Over the years I have cringed at the headlines when we beat France or Germany. Of course we should be delighted at great wins but do we think "subtle" references to WWII in the press the next day really helps our standing in the game? Like it or not, our press is going to be taken as symptomatic of our national feelings. There is blame on all sides here but we are the ones who are suffering and therefore we have to be prepared to try and build bridges. Again, sadly, with our press how it is, I can't see this happening.

    It's a bit of a sad time for fans of English football which I think can be defined seperately now from the Premier League.

  • Comment number 53.

    Tim try opening your eyes a little, in 1974 the entire world was a different place and FIFA itself has done very little to change it, as with most things, it's changing attitudes and money that make things happen
    You could argue that FIFA has done practically nothing to eradicate racism and homophobia, brushing things under the carpet and fining teams/countries a pittance won't change things, certainly new laws in Britain and elsewhere have done far more than FIFA ever will.
    As for African and Asian football, the wealth that European clubs have and the globalisation of tv has done far more to improve standards than FIFA
    The only real thing that FIFA has done in the last 30+ years is grow fatter, richer and more secretive, it seems to believe its own hype and as with any organisation that goes this way, corruption is everywhere
    I just hope that all of Britains media carries on where the Times, BBC and NOTW started and show the world the hidden underbelly of this shambles of an organisation.

  • Comment number 54.

    @44-In 66 England should have played the semi against Portugal in Liverpool as Portugal was unbeaten. They changed the venue to London forcing Portugal to take a night train the day before the match... even though tournament rules stated unbeaten team would play 'at home'meaning the game should have been played in Liverpool. Add to this what happened in the England-Argentina match, the farce of the QF ref draw, plus biased referees that favoured England in the semis and final and you have your winner...
    So it is something deeper than just refereeing mistakes. Didn't even Havelange once say that 'England only won it because Rous was the head of Fifa?' or something of the sort? As i said apart from Argentina 78, 66 was the worst... And at least the Argentinian FA does not try to convince us they are holier than holy. Why does it always have to be someone else's fault and not England's? this victimisation is constant. look at the ridiculous scape goat made out of Ronaldo in 2006 when Rooney was the one stamping on Carvalho...
    What the rest of the world is sick of is this attitude that it is never England's fault and this false belief that you are footballing giants when the only giant thing you have are the fans (the best in the World by faaaaaaar!)

  • Comment number 55.

    I will try another post after the last one was not allowed in. Giving the WC 2022 to Qatar is an absolute joke. Russia I can vaguely (just) understand but how on earth does giving the WC, the worlds biggest sporting event, to a country in the desert with a population of just 1.7m actually 'expand' golbal football?

    Are 1.7m people really going to fill all those new x thousand seater stadiums, especially given how many of the ones built for Japan in 2002 have never been used since - Japan has a population of 120m and actually has a thriving football league!

    Am sure the petrodollars had nothing to do with it.........

    (Hope this post is non-defamoatory enough for the beeb!)

  • Comment number 56.

    For those who complain about the Media. Surely in a Democratic country the Media is just a reflection on the indigenous population? Yes some of the War references in the red tops when England beat a foreign team is truly disgusting, but look at the circulation of these 'papers' and you will find that they must represent what a large percentage of the country thinks.

  • Comment number 57.

    Expanding on point 54 I think you will find the English blame game is a common theme at major tournaments. If there is a way to blame jonny foreigner for English failures it is quickly seized upon.

    1970 - Apparently Banks was a victim of foosd poisoning! (hmmmmm)
    1986 - Maradona's fault (Ignoring the fact that Argentina were a superior team)
    1998 - Diving and playacting Argentinians and bad ref (England won a penalty that was dived for, were correctly not given a goal for a Shearer foul, and Beckham was sent off fairly for retaliation.)
    2006 - Cheating Argy ref sent off Rooney after playacting and winking from Portuguese (Rooney stamped on Carvalho's groin and was rightly sent off, Ronaldo winked at the bench! So what!)
    2010 - Ref misses Lampard's goal, obviously influenced by Blatter, Platini etc (Yes ref makes an honest mistake, but England were destroyed 4-1 by a vastly superior team.)

  • Comment number 58.

    #21
    You don't need to reach back to the 15th Century for a comparison because that is bizarre. How about the IOC a couple of decades ago?

    Nice article Tim and you are spot-on: there is an implicit assumption running through the English press that FIFA only became corrupt when the 'foreigners' ran it. The anti-foreigner (and that includes Scots, Welsh and Irish when it suits them) line is a pretty recurrent theme in the English press in general. Certainly in the English media Rous is never attacked in the way Havalange and Blatter have been.

    That said, greater transparency in FIFA is needed and the press have quite rightly highlighted it. If the only outcome of the English bid is greater media scrutiny of FIFA and its personnel then that will be no bad outcome. The old 'British special case' that members of FIFA resent is weakening with greater political powers in the devolved nations. But most importantly, the fact that you can't believe assurances from FIFA clearly shows that the Scots are absolutely right and astute to keep as far away from the British olympic football team as is possible.

    The English bid was technically good but that is all it ever was. Russia have never hosted the WC and deserved it for this reason alone.

    Remember Recoba playing for Inter in Serie A. Wonderful player.

  • Comment number 59.

    JamTay1 re the press, I take your point but the relationship is hardly one way, I believe the mass media can dictate public opinion to a certain degree and certainly has the ability to influence it for the better or worse.

  • Comment number 60.

    @59 AlicePulley

    It's certainly an interesting debate. I take your point that the Media can dictate public opinion to a certain extent, the Murdoch empire is just one case in point. So does that mean that England truly has a free Media? Or are the views of an entire nation been spoonfed by a few important people?

  • Comment number 61.

    50. At 11:47am on 07 Dec 2010, JamTay1 wrote:
    I always felt that the English bid with the perceived positive of most of the Stadia been built, was actually a weakness. Look at the investment in football the new stadiums in Russia will bring (Hopefully they will not be ignored after the World Cup). Sadly it appears that the vast majority of English fans have an insular (Premier League) view of football, and if it doesn't happen in England it is either corrupt or inferior!

    ------------------------------------------------------------------------

    What, it's a weakness in your view that the infrastructure for a tournament to be held is already in place? Surely the 'risk' factor for staging the tournament has to be key criteria when considering a bid?

    Actually that's the problem. No one knows the criteria, except the FIFA committee members. And if they'd said officially in the first place that they intended to take the tournament to new places and told England not to bother, then no one would have the right to complain.

    As for your second point, that anyone complaining that England haven't had the chance to host a World Cup is saying it because they believe a World Cup anywhere else is inferior and they are insular Premier League fans, that is absolute nonsense.

    For a start, to be an english football fan and also a Premier League supporter are not the same thing. Did that thought not occur to you? Plenty of people follow the EPL are not english, for example. Plenty of english people support clubs outside the Premier League.

    Secondly, it's about getting a World Cup to England so a country with real football passion and history can have the joy of hosting the tournament again. Take cash and theoretical 'football development' out of it. England is one of the leading nations of world football and the country has hosted the tournament just once since 1930, and that was just over 44 years ago. Mexico have hosted it twice (I know they had to step in for Colombia in 86 for reasons outside FIFA control)

    It's not about slating Russia and Qatar, I just believe that England deserved a chance to host another World Cup. It could be a long time now before that ever happens again- will 100 years pass between 1966 and the next one?

    Seeing as England invented the sport and have been competitive in it if not regular tournament winners for decades, I think that some comments on this blog are disrespectful and unfair to be honest, and it's a shame that the 'motherland of football' (Sepp Blatter's empty words) seems to be up against it when bidding to host the tournament for the sport that it gave the world.

  • Comment number 62.

    Point #1 - Reform
    History teaches us that dentistry has changed a lot: as a young boy, my dad was so brutalized in the dentist’s chair that he was terrified of going to the dentists for decades and all his teeth went rotten and fell out. Thankfully, this industry has been reformed. FIFA can’t carry on with bad practice by comparisons or vendettas of what has gone on before....

    The whole bid process looks untenable now. There should be significant pressure to reform this aspect. It almost makes you wonder who has promised what to whom and when? The implications from the bid process begin to sound like the talk around how Halliburton have been awarded infrastructure contracts from the Gulf Wars (allegedly).

    Because everyone smells a rat, many will be following how this unfolds for the Ex Co members over between now and 2025 (e.g. where are the Qatar stadiums going to be rebuilt, I wonder?). More interesting still, on the morning of Dec 2 (i.e. before Russia were officially awarded the right to host WC2018), Pepsi bought a 66% stake in Russian dairy and fruit juice maker Wimm-Bill-Dann for $3.8bn (£2.4bn).

    http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/business-11899792

    Was this good risk management and business strategy or something more, perhaps? Everyone loves a good conspiracy theory, don’t they...? In the interests of open and honest competition, as many individuals and organisations as possible must exert pressure for reform otherwise few will be confident that we have a legitimate and just interest in this beautiful game. 2018 really will become the game at teh end of the world. Don’t just sit there and whinge or complain – act! Do something!

    Point #2 Great blog
    Thanks for offering a welcome perspective and a timely reminder that people in glass houses, etc, etc. England should now move on and think about what all the Home Country FAs can do, in conjunction with 2011 incoming FIFA Ex Co member Jim Boyce, to influence FIFA from within (plea to the v disappointed English fans - drop all this nonsense about a breakaway...).

  • Comment number 63.

    The process of selecting World cup host countries definately needs looking into. Firstly I would say that as a Scot I was hoping that England would get the 2018 WC, yes there may be an air of arrogance about the bid but on the face of it, it was a strong bid without some of the potential pitfalls and problems associated with the Russian bid. However, I can sort of understand the Russian bid being succesful. Qatar however is another matter completely, no way should a country as small as Qatar be getting the WC especially as they have no domestic league set up. I can certainly understand the anger of all the other biding nations. FIFA being FIFA however will bury their heads in the sand ( or noses in the trough ) with regard to reforming the voting process but that is indeed what needs to happen and I can only see 2 ways in which this can be done :-
    Firstly, all FIFA members regardless of size get a vote. The WC could still be rotated around the continents as at present but with all nations getting a vote, hopefully the best technical bid would win.
    The second alternative (which would take the process out of FIFA's hands ) would be for UEFA to allow all it's members to vote on the European country which would go forward as the sole candidate when it is the european turn to be host. Bids could be prepared by any country expressing a desire to host the event, these would be voted for by all UEFA memebers. The only problems I can see is that all UEFA members would have to agree not to put forward their bid even if they were not chosen by the UEFA members and secondly, FIFA may just say well we are not going to give it to europe as you have made us look like fools rather than giving us the opportunity to do so by ourselves.

  • Comment number 64.

    Hello.

    With Uruguay being such a small nation. World Cup successes of past and present would suggest to me that their is no innate problem with the players of that nationality. As pointed out, Ruben Sosa, Forlan, Suarez, Cavani, Poyet, Montero etc have been wonderful players in Europe.

    Cavani has a big future, and Lodeiro given time and the right circumstances will be the Uruguayan playmake of a generation. Had Lodeiro clicked, Uruguay could easily have made the final in 2010.

    Had Poyet spent his entire career in England, he would be regarded as probably the best plyer in English history. His playing style was almost perfectly effective for the english game.

    Least not forget Enzo Francescoli, the player Zidane wanted to be. Fonseca also showed huge promise before losing his way later on.

    As for Rous, some sheer disrespect given in this column to the man, who sadly was a man of his time. A lot of his failings would have been upheld by any footballing bureacrat of the time. Lets not forget that Germany still competed as two separate countries for almost 20 years after his departure.

  • Comment number 65.

    It is ironic that the article referred to context, ignoring the context in which Rous was pro-apartheid, given that half of the world was at that time, in its ignorance, pro-apartheid.

    All in all, Rous had some dodgy-but-contemporours-right-wing-bias back in the fifties and sixties, some forty to fifty years ago, and that's why FIFA's utterly archaic, self-referencing and untouchable pinnacle of power must remain unscathed by transparent, efficient and modern principles. Never mind the decisions to award these world cups to russia and qatar (worst decision ever), the point is that the organisation which originally oversaw a fledgling global football world, is now in desperate need of re-aligning with the obscenely wealthy and powerful force it is today.



  • Comment number 66.

    61. At 1:34pm on 07 Dec 2010, Someone Less Imaginative Stole My Username wrote:
    50. At 11:47am on 07 Dec 2010, JamTay1 wrote:
    I always felt that the English bid with the perceived positive of most of the Stadia been built, was actually a weakness. Look at the investment in football the new stadiums in Russia will bring (Hopefully they will not be ignored after the World Cup). Sadly it appears that the vast majority of English fans have an insular (Premier League) view of football, and if it doesn't happen in England it is either corrupt or inferior!

    ------------------------------------------------------------------------

    What, it's a weakness in your view that the infrastructure for a tournament to be held is already in place? Surely the 'risk' factor for staging the tournament has to be key criteria when considering a bid?

    Actually that's the problem. No one knows the criteria, except the FIFA committee members. And if they'd said officially in the first place that they intended to take the tournament to new places and told England not to bother, then no one would have the right to complain.

    As for your second point, that anyone complaining that England haven't had the chance to host a World Cup is saying it because they believe a World Cup anywhere else is inferior and they are insular Premier League fans, that is absolute nonsense.

    For a start, to be an english football fan and also a Premier League supporter are not the same thing. Did that thought not occur to you? Plenty of people follow the EPL are not english, for example. Plenty of english people support clubs outside the Premier League.

    Secondly, it's about getting a World Cup to England so a country with real football passion and history can have the joy of hosting the tournament again. Take cash and theoretical 'football development' out of it. England is one of the leading nations of world football and the country has hosted the tournament just once since 1930, and that was just over 44 years ago. Mexico have hosted it twice (I know they had to step in for Colombia in 86 for reasons outside FIFA control)

    It's not about slating Russia and Qatar, I just believe that England deserved a chance to host another World Cup. It could be a long time now before that ever happens again- will 100 years pass between 1966 and the next one?

    Seeing as England invented the sport and have been competitive in it if not regular tournament winners for decades, I think that some comments on this blog are disrespectful and unfair to be honest, and it's a shame that the 'motherland of football' (Sepp Blatter's empty words) seems to be up against it when bidding to host the tournament for the sport that it gave the world.

    ----------------------------------------

    I think perhaps you misunderstand some of my points, perhaps I did not explain myself correctly. I don't think it is a 'weakness' England having many great stadia, but I do think that the chance to help Russia in this instance to improve their own footballing infrastructure was a chance not to be missed. On an earlier comment I did mention that Fifa should have made their criteria for awarding the World Cup clearer so we are in agreement there.

    With regards to the rest of your comment I completely disagree. English football is insular in the extreme. Read the vast majority of the papers, listen to the phone ins most were saying the World Cup in Russia would be inferior, and many were saying they wouldn't even bother with it and that England should leave Fifa! Unbelievable arrogance prevailed. I am well aware that a large amount of fans of the Premier League are outside England (Largely due to the huge amounts of money the Sky, Premier League bandwagon has created). Interesting then that you then mention money with relation to Quatar and Russia's bids?

    Yes England has only hosted the World Cup once, but seeing as they refused to enter a number of the earlier tournaments, they could hardly be considered as hosts! I'm sure that the rest of the world is fed up with the 'we invented the game' rubbish that is spouted. Yes England were the first country to have associated football but the game has moved on since then! England has been left lagging behind! A Frenchman came up with the idea of the World Cup yet France has also only hosted it once!

    I'm not sure how or why 'perceived' competiveness should be taken into account when hosts are chosen for a World Cup either?

    Fifa are moving the World Cup around the World and trying to promote the game in new countries and cultures and I for one think they should be applauded for this.

  • Comment number 67.

    With reference to the insular, arrogant attitude that prevails in England I leave you with a comment from Harry Redknapp (touted as a future England manager) in the most popular paper in England.

    'Qatar? That's something I think of when I clear my throat'

    I think that says it all really.

  • Comment number 68.

    jam tay: i agree with a lot of what you say. except perceived competitiveness. i find it ludicrous to give the WC to Qatar (yet if it fosters great competitiveness and higher playing standards in the whole region we will all benefit with more talented players for years to come.)
    this has happened already with the remarkable improvements of SKorea and Japan for example.
    nevertheless, in my opinion the Asian WC was one of the worst with 'fake' fans filling up the grounds... so yes i do prefer WC in real footballing nations, be it england, brazil, portugal, france, italy, argentina. Following this argument i am totally comfortable with Russia. who doesnt remember the great soviet team of 88 for example, great coaches like Lobanowski... (Ucranian) Eastern Europe deserved a WC as there is great footballing tradition there. Qatar i find is more a political and profitable decision and that I find sad but its FIFA so what does anyone expect... If only it could be the fans could have a say... However if i have to change something I will change UEFA 100 times before I touch FIFA for their ludicrous big 3 countries with all the players from all over the world. I miss the days when you could have an upset in any European match, away games were much harder and each team would have 1 or 2 world class players... To have arguably the best 2 teams with all the best players playing in the same league means something has gone horribly wrong... and where is the fun in seeing the champions league batterings we see all the time now. Red star won it 18 years ago. Partizan will leave with 0 points... but as it has favoured the english game and the premier league no one complains half as much... double standards according to me. (ps- not saying all english fans are premier league ones.) in fact while i lived there i always supported the mighty posh and still do despite being in the congo... well them and Sporting Lisbon... what could we have done had we been allowed to keep figo, ronaldo etc... So yes change FIFA but lets start by completely changing horrible UEFA and their disgraceful ch leaugue and Europa league format

  • Comment number 69.

    60. At 1:31pm on 07 Dec 2010, JamTay1 wrote:
    @59 AlicePulley

    It's certainly an interesting debate. I take your point that the Media can dictate public opinion to a certain extent, the Murdoch empire is just one case in point. So does that mean that England truly has a free Media? Or are the views of an entire nation been spoonfed by a few important people?

    ------------------

    I'm in danger of starting to stray a little off topic here but my personal opinion is that its something of a perpetual cycle, a certain part of the media appeals to what it sees as the lowest common denominator, peoples opinions are informed by that media.

    Football is a case in point, look how certain players/managers get cast in the roles of heroes/villains by the press. Take foreign players cast as divers/cheats, Ronaldo and Drogba (who certainly dived no more than say Owen at his peak) villified until the numbers alone proved these were world class players and the press had to acknowledge that. Public opinion then seemed to change and (with the exception of the partisans) there then seemed to be a pride that we had this quality of player in our League.

    What comes first the public opinion or the press? On different occasions I'm sure the dynamic of the relationship works differently but I suppose I would would like to think a responsible sporting press would stick to the football and leave negative national stereotyping out of its reporting which I am sure would influence, to a greater or lesser extent, fans to do the same. I won't hold my breath though!

  • Comment number 70.

    I am normally a big fan of your blog's Tim, but in this case I fail to see the relevance of most of your entry. I cannot fathom how the actions of a FIFA President some 35 years ago should have a significant impact on the decisions of FIFA today.

    You suggest that the the reign of Stanley Rous is held up as a paradise lost, by whom exactly? While I have occasionally read criticism of Havelange and Blatter, I've never once stumbled upon press columns harking back to the good old days of Rous.

    You give credit to FIFA, in particular for Havelange for expanding the reach of football, but as with Rous' attitude to apartheid, do you not think that this was mainly a consequence of the era that they lived and worked in? You talk of Havelange and Blatter's efforts to globalize the game but this surely reflects the trend for globalization in many different industries.

    Throughout the modern democracies there seems to have been an acceptance that too much power in the hands of too few for too long is not a good thing, it seems in this regard FIFA has been slow to catch on to the global trend.

    Perhaps when they were rotating the location of the World Cup they should have also considered rotating the presidency, that way it would become almost impossible that any country could be marginalised within FIFA for as long as England has been.

  • Comment number 71.

    Comrade Vickery is right on the money to say that FIFA is very poorful for its own good. It is time politicians stopped dancing to FIFa`s music. It has been reported in the press that FIFa has summoned government officials to travel to Zurich for a tongue lashing; what a joke.

  • Comment number 72.

    Additions to no 71 Zambian government officials

  • Comment number 73.

    Hello Tim,
    I remember you naming Elias as one of the players to watch out for in Brazil's last few friendlies. As it turns out now he will come to my club Atletico Madrid. How do you view this move? Do you think he will succeed, especially given the lack of quality in Atletico's midfield? Or do you think this will be Cleber Santana, Part 2?

  • Comment number 74.

    "Secondly, it's about getting a World Cup to England so a country with real football passion and history can have the joy of hosting the tournament again."

    You mean, like Germany in 2006?

    I feel a little sorry for England's bid, as it would have no doubt been a good host. I get the feeling though that FIFA were going to give the go-ahead to newer nations anyway, regardless of how good the bids from the likes of England were. If that was the case, why even bother letting countries like England enter if you're going to give the tournament to a new host anyway?

  • Comment number 75.

    A few days ago, following FIFAs decision to not give England to host the WC 2018, I sat listening to a Radio 5 Live call-in and the discussion was 'why are we not liked'. Here is one reason why.
    ___________________________________________________________


    67. At 3:19pm on 07 Dec 2010, JamTay1 wrote:
    With reference to the insular, arrogant attitude that prevails in England I leave you with a comment from Harry Redknapp (touted as a future England manager) in the most popular paper in England.

    'Qatar? That's something I think of when I clear my throat'

    I think that says it all really.

  • Comment number 76.

    FIFA has always been a mess, because it is undemocratic and as far from transparent as one can get.
    Even give this as true, which I think few would dispute, the job of the investigative journalists is to investigate what is happening NOW. The historians can investigate the past.
    FIFA needs a shake-up, and I do not see that ever happening. The pappet-master Blatter has far too much power politically - how and why I would ask.
    The bringing forward of the votes on World Cup hosting is simply another way of entrenching that power. Hosts for the next 3 events are already decided - not uch for any successor to do then to make a "name" for themselves, is there?
    I feel that the big footballing nations should get together to form their own body, and resign from FIFA. If most of Europe, some of South America, and maybe a few others (USA, some of Africa etc) formed the breakaway, and offered membership to all provided they first resigned from FIFA, then what would the point be of FIFA ?
    Who gives FIFA their powers? The members, that's who, and it is maybe time for the members to take them away.

  • Comment number 77.

    #76
    But I don't get the feeling that there is any substantive anti FIFA (or UEFA for that matter) feeling in countries outwith England. And so long as this is just associated with the English absolutely nothing will happen.

    And we are talking about English FA suits and committee men here. Hardly the vanguard of a revolution, 'velvet' or otherwise.

    Perhaps organisational change in FIFA will come when and if Platini takes over.

    Tim - is the FIFA transparency issue and reform at the top level of football part of any footballing debate in SAmerican countries?

  • Comment number 78.

    As an Englishman I'm glad we didn't get the World Cup. We are very happy to criticise others, but will not accept any criticism of our own nation.

    There's this belief that everything to do with English football is better than everything else. See the World Cup where according to the "experts" on TV Germany couldn't beat England because their players "only" play in the Bundesliga, even though it's a very strong league. Germany went and won 4-1.

    Then it was the referees fault, and a huge media campaign against Fifa/the officials/Uefa started, just as it did in 2006 and 2004. And we called the Italians over the top when they lost to South Korea despite some of the worst refereeing I've ever seen.

    Then in this bid there seemed to be a belief that England just had to apply to stage the World Cup, and we'd get it.

    That arrogance, the xenophobia from TV pundits to fans across the country, and the deluded belief we're somehow superior to everyone else, is the main reason the World Cup won't be in England in 2018.

    I really hope as a nation we start showing more respect to others, and actually start working to achieve things, because the rest of the world doesn't like us and I don't blame them.

    Tim, very well written as usual. Recoba only stayed at Inter so long because he was president Moratti's favourite player, hence why he was happy to make him the best paid player in the world. That sort of poor decision making was why Inter never won anything pre-Calciopoli.

  • Comment number 79.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 80.

    Hi,

    Is it time for an international Champions League-style qualifying tournament for the world cup? This would allow smaller countries, in football terms, the chance to play teams of equal ability from all over the world rather than being trounced by the local big teams. Surely the idea of regional federations is restrictive to global development, and goes against the principals of Havelange/Blatter.

    Perhaps Qatar deserve the World Cup, as representatives of the middle east in general, but in footballing terms, they would probably not qualify for the world cup, and it seems improbable that Qatari players will be in the Premier League any time soon. That's not to say the fans don't deserve to see international games played in their country, so if we had properly international qualifying involving teams from all over the world, that could be achieved.

    I think this would improve world football in a number of ways. It would ensure that only the very best teams play in the showpiece event, the WC finals, rather than allowing a couple of whipping boys through who the big teams all want in their WC group (e.g North Korea). Also, teams from around the world would get to play a more varied qualifying campaign, rather than the same old faces. You wouldn't have to wait 4 years for a European national team to have a chance to play a South American or African team. Fans from football-mad East Asian countries, who generally ignore their local competitions and national teams, would have the chance to see European-based stars from La Liga and the Premier League playing in meaningful games for their countries, rather than on pre season tours with clubs.

    It would be brilliant!

    I think the idea of regional qualification dates from a time when international travel was much more difficult than today - it's out of date. As is the idea of 22 men voting on where the world cup is held. Make qualifying global, and the world cup becomes something held all over the world - with a higher quality final tournament played in a host country.

  • Comment number 81.

    perhaps the out cry over the world cup vote will lead to calls for the voting system to be put back to the pre 1970's when it was one association one vote, but I am will to give Qatar a chance to grow football and standards in the Middle East

  • Comment number 82.

    70 - I have the greatest respect for Andrew Jennings, the journalist behind the Panorama programme, but I disagree with him in his assessment of the Rous years.
    Thisis what he said when he was in Brazil recently
    "FIFA's reputation has gone down and down and down ever since Joao Havelange went to FIFA."
    I honestly don't think this is true - it might have gone down as far as he is concerned, and certainly as far as England are concerned, but many other places int he world don't share this conception - and am i am not in any way trying to defend anyone from corruption allegations, or, in fact, trying to defend anyone full stop.

    Rous and apartheid - he was scrapping with the African Federation on this issue for years - it may well have cost him the election. And back to Jennings' original quote - do you honestly think it is possible for FIFA's reputation to have gone down any further after authorising the game in Santiago?

  • Comment number 83.

    Will Quatar be stepping up their efforts to nationalise South American players?

    Blatter and Havelange are basically sociopaths. They couldn't care less about globalising the game. It's all about them. The existing football "powers" don't own them anything that is why they are keen to get the WC played in other areas.
    I see nothing good in forcing the taxpayers of poor countries to pay for stadiums that wil hardly be used at anywhere near their full capacity.
    If they really cared about these countries they would let them refurbish existing stadiums or build cheaper ones with a smaller capacity.

    English people are often arrogant and Stanley Rous had some racist opinions.
    This shouldn't be used as an excuse to cover up the wrong doings of Fifa now.
    Maybe I am old fashioned but I find it hard to excuse the massive corruption that Fifa are involved in.

  • Comment number 84.

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  • Comment number 85.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 86.

    69. At 4:57pm on 07 Dec 2010, AlicePulley wrote:
    60. At 1:31pm on 07 Dec 2010, JamTay1 wrote:
    @59 AlicePulley

    It's certainly an interesting debate. I take your point that the Media can dictate public opinion to a certain extent, the Murdoch empire is just one case in point. So does that mean that England truly has a free Media? Or are the views of an entire nation been spoonfed by a few important people?

    ------------------

    I'm in danger of starting to stray a little off topic here but my personal opinion is that its something of a perpetual cycle, a certain part of the media appeals to what it sees as the lowest common denominator, peoples opinions are informed by that media.

    Football is a case in point, look how certain players/managers get cast in the roles of heroes/villains by the press. Take foreign players cast as divers/cheats, Ronaldo and Drogba (who certainly dived no more than say Owen at his peak) villified until the numbers alone proved these were world class players and the press had to acknowledge that. Public opinion then seemed to change and (with the exception of the partisans) there then seemed to be a pride that we had this quality of player in our League.

    What comes first the public opinion or the press? On different occasions I'm sure the dynamic of the relationship works differently but I suppose I would would like to think a responsible sporting press would stick to the football and leave negative national stereotyping out of its reporting which I am sure would influence, to a greater or lesser extent, fans to do the same. I won't hold my breath though!

    ------------------

    I couldn't agree with you more. However I share your worries that this negative stereotyping will continue.

  • Comment number 87.

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  • Comment number 88.

    ROB: "Perhaps organisational change in FIFA will come when and if Platini takes over".

    Didn't (Anti-England) Platini vote for Quatar then?

  • Comment number 89.

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  • Comment number 90.

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  • Comment number 91.

    88 It has been suggested that pressure was put on Platini to vote for Quatar in return for them increasing their order of airplanes from France.

    There are said to be similar business reasons for Beckenbauer voting for them as well.

    The whole process ( including the England bid) is looking very dirty.

  • Comment number 92.

    there are some qiuality Uruguayan players in europe, its taken a couple of years for forlan to establsih himslef as top qaulity player after somewhat disappionting spell at man utd. luis saurez at ajax is a qaulity player apart from his disgraceful handball and cannibal attack on an oppentent. i think its all down to temperment and the will to successed.

  • Comment number 93.

    Personally it always have surprised me how little auto-critical some english players are, when it comes to the national team. I have seen them since 1986 and like many posts here I always get the impression is not their fault, wether it was too hot, or cold, or late, or early, or wet, or dry, or the grass was to short, or too long... I don't know where it comes from, but before every mayor tournament I have seen them play, they are alwas favorites and they act alike (They don't play alike thou)

    As for Qatar 2022, here in Germany, lots of people have criticized this election, but they forget how they got their WC 2006 (New Zealands vote, or should I say no vote)

    I for one, am happy to see the WC in Russia and Qatar (would habe prefered the Iberian WC, what a cool name that would've been), but I like the decisions. In Qatar you are not allowed to drink alcohol. So what? There will be allowed areas to do that. And it's actually better, because we won't have as many drunken aggresive idiots, who just ruin everybody elses fun, I don't care where they come from, Germany, England, Chile (my origin country), Russia,... if you are drunk and aggresive, I don't want you in a stadium or fan zone.

  • Comment number 94.

    Hi Tim,

    Just wondering what you made of the Copa Sudamericana final, Im an Independiente fan so obviously delighted, but I thought Goias were very unlucky.
    Great to see a sleeping giant awoken, and hopefully Independiente will kick on here from here.
    If only the Europa league and Champions league final were played in a atmosphere like last night, without a doubt Argentina's fans are the best in the world.

    Vamos rojos!

  • Comment number 95.

    Brasil dominates but Argentina wins.Is it because the Brasucas have better clubs they are getting more teams into the semi?,is it the decline of Argentinas big 5? and why do Argentine teams always win the finals?Or do the brasucas have no cojones?

  • Comment number 96.

    You have to agree that football has taken over new regions and Havelange's desire to expand the game has been a great success. So I agree with Havelange.

  • Comment number 97.

    @94 - "Argentina's fans are the best in the world."

    Too true. Independiente's fans can obviously be counted on to take out opposing players with a rock when it looks like things might turn against them.

    It's a disgrace that they weren't thrown out of the Sudamericana.

    But faced with the ratings in the next round that a neighbourhood club from Uruguay would draw by comparison to Independiente, what would one expect to happen, I suppose? TV networks need their ad money.

  • Comment number 98.

    @95

    You say Brasillian teams are dominant to Argentinian? well maybe in the last 2 seasons they have had more teams competing in the later stages of the copa lib and sudamericana, but you cant argue with Argentina having more titles in both competitions, I think if the second leg was in Goias they would of won last night.

    The point 97 make about Independiente being thrown out of the competition, you have a valid point there, but also I detect you are not a big fan of the club, maybe you are supporter of one of the other big five, who no doubt are envious of Independiente and its great history in cup competitions.

  • Comment number 99.

    Vinnie,
    I was being ironic I have been argueing against tims beleif of Brasilain dominance despite Argentines owning the trophies
    97 every one of us Argentina fans have to say we all have our quota of lunatics.But i remember a not too distant semi final of the Libertadores in Sao Paolo when not one window of the Rivers players coach survived with the complicity of the Brasilian police

  • Comment number 100.

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