Tuesday, 7 December 2010

Wanted: MPs with some convictions

The defining image of last week was surely the one of those disconsolate boys, England flags painted on their faces, hearing FIFA’s verdict on the 2018 World Cup.

“Get used to it, lads,” I thought. “You’re English. There’s a lot more disappointment like that coming your way.” It is probably best to grasp that sooner rather than later.

Despite my total lack of interest in football, I was so monumentally bored last Thursday afternoon that my internet surfing brought me to the BBC’s live news feed just as Sepp Blatter was joking about whether he had been handed the right envelope for the big announcement. God forbid that it should be one stuffed with banknotes, I thought to myself, along with about half the population of the planet.

Shortly afterwards, I wandered into the adjacent office of a client who is vaguely interested in ball games, and told him the two verdicts. Russia he accepted with resignation, but Qatar he simply refused to believe. “You are having a laugh,” he said. I agreed that someone definitely was, though for once it was not me.

No really, I explained. The 2022 World Cup is going to be played on a sand-covered gasometer where daytime temperatures nudge 50ºC, but that’s all right because a British (hurrah!) firm of architects has come up with a revolutionary new air conditioning system that works a treat in their scale model of the new stadia. Surely you don’t need to be particularly cynical to start musing “What could possibly go wrong?”

Then there is the promised suspension of the normal rules of Islamic behaviour to allow intermingling of the sexes and the consumption of alcohol. Plus, presumably, a bit of a clampdown on anyone minded to have a pop at killing the infidels while they are in the area.

I shan’t be going, but then I wouldn’t have gone if the matches had been played at St James’ Park and the Stadium of Light. But I think I will try to put together a little tour for the Wooler and Whittingham Lesbian Gay and Transgender Christian Limbo Dancing and Real Ale Club, and see how they get on.

At least we don’t need to wait for the brave Mr Assange of WikiLeaks to reveal the fatal flaws in the England bidding process. But what a shock his disclosures to date have turned out to be. The Gulf Arabs don’t much like Iran, while Prince Andrew is patriotic, politically incorrect and a bit of a buffoon. Hold the front page. Coming soon: America’s Ambassador to the Holy See makes stunning revelation about the religious affiliation of the Pope.

Should anything be allowed to stay secret any more? FIFA deliberations and MPs’ expenses? Clearly not. International diplomatic negotiations? The focus group jury still seems to be out.

However, bringing up the issue of Parliamentary expenses reminds me that we have in our midst a group of men and women who have proven, world class skills in working questionable systems. So perhaps Mr Chaytor and anyone else convicted of wrongdoing might be set a novel form of community punishment, putting forward Britain’s proposals for future international sporting events.

Because unless we make a major strike of natural gas in the next few years and come to grips with the prevailing culture, we are clearly going to struggle to hold onto the rights to stage Wimbledon, the FA Cup and the Oxford & Cambridge Boat Race, never mind anything more “iconic” on the global stage.

And don’t forget some generous backhanders for the troublesome British media, too. Because I for one don’t want to see my son’s flag-painted face crumpling when the very rich man in charge of FIFA decides that Afghanistan is a better bet than England for 2030 because of some short-sighted column in The Journal.

Originally published in The Journal, Newcastle upon Tyne.

1 comment:

nicola said...

Well I'm afraid I laughed and laughed when I heard the result. It's a bit like British Aerospace's arms sales to our peaceable allies - why should people from notoriously corrupt and/or very poor countries award Britain contracts without an appropriate nod to local customs?
And don't let anyone face paint your son - don't you remember what happened in the Archers??? Nicola