Category: Inside Insight
Published on Tuesday, 08 October 2013 20:05
Obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) is an anxiety disorder characterized by intrusive thoughts that produce uneasiness, apprehension, fear, or worry; by repetitive behaviors aimed at reducing the associated anxiety; or by a combination of such obsessions and compulsions. Symptoms of the disorder include excessive washing or cleaning; repeated checking; extreme hoarding; preoccupation with sexual, violent or religious thoughts; relationship-related obsessions; aversion to particular numbers; and nervous rituals, such as opening and closing a door a certain number of times before entering or leaving a room. These symptoms can be alienating and time-consuming, and often cause severe emotional and financial distress. The acts of those who have OCD may appear paranoid and potentially psychotic. However, OCD sufferers generally recognize their obsessions and compulsions as irrational and may become further distressed by this realization.
Last week’s FIFA Committee Week, which culminated in a vastly over-egged ExCo meeting full of unfulfilled expectations and attended by over 130 media, was a classic non-event and example of expectations never having been grounded in reality.
Of the 130-odd media present, about 95% had travelled from far-away England (some from Britain) “to Europe”, as the British like to say, to attend what was being hyped up to be the most remarkable, mind-boggling and most scandalously exciting event of the year so far.
Of course it tunred out to be none of these things, but a few small Zurich hotels, such as the Fleming (a comforting home from home for many) made good money with the migrating flocks of the Brit pack who had undertaken the tough, one-hour+ journey to arrive at the headquarters of everything that is evil in football, FIFA.
So what occasioned this over-representation of UK media versus the rest of the world (generally conspicuous be their absence). Is the logic that it is actually only the English that really care about football, or rather FIFA? Perhaps the Brits are the smart ones after all, and the rest of the world are a bit thick and have missed the point.
It was clear from the start that no major revelations would pass the lips of the FIFA president, and it was clear, too, that Qatar would not be questioned as the host for 2022 (and Blatter said so at the outset).
So what IS the excitement that drew well over a hundred of the best media in the world to Zurich’s lakeside shores?
Was it a recurrence of the phenomena that so dismally contributed to England’s embarrassing performance in December 2010? Could it be the self-serving hype, generated by John and Jack, who excited Jack and Jill and eventually resulted in a wildfire that screamed: “You have to be there, the football world is about to explode (implode)?”
Jack and Jill dutifully hopped on a plane, set up camp in expensive Zurich, posted cameras in front of the Baur au Lac and FIFA HQ, stood around in anticipation – and faithfully recorded the (Zurich) mountain give birth to a mouse.
Several hundred thousand British pounds later (travel, hotel, FB), the result was a disappointing triple wash-out of statements for the assembled media: 1) Qatar would host the World Cup in 2022, 2) To play or not to play in summer would be discussed in an appropriate forum of stakeholders, and 3) Workers’ rights are an issue that FIFA cannot determine but “would raise the matter with the Emir”. Done.
Three – predictable – statements for the more than 100 top class journalists who had jollied up in Zurich expecting a kill, but ending up reporting home that nothing of real relevance had been said nor done, and there was actually nothing that hadn’t been reported before. Even when one of the very brave demanded clarification by way of the first question in the media conference, there was an abrupt dismissal by FIFA’s president with words similar to “That is not a question. That is a declaration. Next question!” – and done again.
It was a recurrence of the now fabled phenomena of Zurich whose last appearance was in the early days of December 2010. In 2010, the English media had hyped up England’s certain victory to host the World Cup in 2018. After all, the Prince was present, Ministers and the PM. How on earth would that not sway the ExCo! There was general excitement if not frenzied anticipation of a massive victory, and it ended in one vote for England. That’s it. After all, Thompson was obliged to vote for England, hence his didn’t really count, did it?
Mass hysteria, mass Compulsive Obsessive FIFA Disorder. It seems to be the English condition. Or, a matter very English in media terms, at the very least.
The French, the Italians, even the Germans generally abstained from Zurich last week. The South Americans were nowhere to be seen, while the Spaniards and Portuguese are probably struggling to afford business trips these days. It was, once again, about the English media and their collective misjudgment of everything that is FIFA.
Nothing happened that could not have been covered by the wire services. Nothing happened that would even remotely affect English football – the calendar? No. While not quite being a fait-accompli, the calendar will be resolved over time and certainly WITH the English rather than without them. No decisions were taken that would change the course of international football, or the world. Not for now, anyway.
So is the concern really that everyone is worried about an event that will be hosted when Joseph S Blatter will be 86 years old (!)? Even his most loving followers appear to assume that by then, he won’t be presiding over FIFA. Others in the FIFA ExCo will be approaching their mid-nineties (if still around), while the young ones will be celebrating an age anything between 55-68 years.
Nine years from now, we will all be looking at a different world where those who are the leaders today (except for the 32-year-old Emir of Qatar) will have either quit or died or both.
Nine years from now, nonetheless, appears to be the most urgent and exciting topic for the English football media. Why? Why not Brazil 2014 or Russia 2018 who spanked the English out of sight in the vote?
What makes Qatar 2022 of such relevance that these English journalists flock to Zurich to cover a non-event? What is it that motivates the best sports journalists in the world to focus on an event that will happen roughly a decade from now? Not tomorrow, not next year, not in 2018 but in 2022?
Is it a suspicion of the ‘B’ word and all the evil that it implies? As Crusaders, this is a morally driven country that knows no bribes (the alleged BAe and Saudi deal was an exception), knows no match-fixing (the thing with the Aussie scandal where Brits allegedly pulled the strings was an exception), knows no corruption (the pharmaceutical firms that are presently suffering from the same in China were an exception), and where its own FA has never seen a scandal (Triesman’s resignation for having mumbled a few sweet things too many to a lady admirer must be an exception). A country such as this will of course hold its principles of fair play high above other people’s alleged corruption, bribes, match-fixing and, ultimate, downfall. You just know it is going to happen, it’s just so obvious. I see it. Don’t you?
Author’s note: occasionally, the Editor of IWF has been approached by readers who complain that the INSIDE Insight column is (usually) not attributed to an author. Here is a suggestion, then: please complain to the FT that the Lex Column has never carried a byline. Please also complain to Der Spiegel that many of its articles do not carry a name. Furthermore, kindly refer to Private Eye and violently complain about articles that carry a ridiculous alias or are not signed at all. Lastly, please complain to the authors of the Bible for their ludicrous omission of any traceable by-line, despite the fact that hundreds of millions of well-meaning, God-fearing people around the globe take every single word for granted.