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World Cup fever
Written by Catullus on Wednesday, 11th Jun 2014 07:00

With the big kick off just two days away, I thought it was time to mull over some things about the World Cup.

I am not a big fan of International football. I was once and during Mark Hughes' reign I had a season ticket for the Millenium stadium.

But whereas I would put the country first for most things, when it comes to football I am strictly a club man.

In my younger days, football was not all about the money. Football really was the working mans game. Even world class players often needed a job after their playing days were over.

Ex Swans Nigel Stevenson, Dudley Lewis, Herbie Williams, Gary Emmanuel and several others all work/worked for Royal mail.

But these days, anyone good enough to be an international is probably so rich they'll never have to worry about money again. Even the small countries draw their players from the biggest clubs.

Back in the 70's and 80's I was glued to the TV every 4 years. But as the time passed and money took over, I found myself falling out of love with football. Although still an avid Jack, all the hype and over the top comments are more than I can be bothered to put up with.

Maybe part of my distaste is caused by FIFA and Sepp Blatter. The latest accusations are, if true, scandalous and every member of FIFA found complicit should have to resign and face criminal charges. Or maybe it would be fairer if they were sacked and lost all their priviledges, pensions etc?

And Blatters response to the accusations, well it's pure comedy. Is there discrimination or racism in accusing someone of taking bribes and fixing a vote? Certainly not if the accusations are proven.

The imminent start of this years tourney is irrelevant to me. I may end up watching some highlights, but I won't go out of my way to watch a game, any game.

With the state of the world in general, there are far more important things to worry about than a football competition that has cost the host country far more than just money.

There have been protests, millions of people have taken part. Brazil is a country much like Britain in some respects. We both love football, both countries have a growing rich-poor divide.

But the building program has also cost lives with several stadia under threat of not being ready until very recently.

You only have to see the poverty in a Favela to understand why many Brazilians didn't want countless millions spent on the infrastructure for a World Cup.

Brazil is badly in need of schools and hospitals, of social justice and law and order reform.

In a country where street kids are mercilessly gunned down and buried in mass graves just to make towns and cities look better, where poverty and crime rule huge areas, where millions of people didn't want it, was Brazil the right choice?

But FIFA do what FIFA do.

And similarly, are Russia and Qatar (ignoring the present accusations) suitable choices.

Is a country that is so clearly racist and homophobic deserving of a World cup. And we all could see that a summer tournament could not be played in a country where temperatures will be so high that lives would be endangered.

falling out of love with the World cup is something that was happening slowly, but has accelerated in recent years. For all of the reasons above, I see something wrong at the very core of football.

We all know football has the ability to inspire, to give people hope. And for the lucky few, it can raise them up and make them megastars, not to forget very rich.

But for everyone who succeeds, there are thousands who don't. If you're a boy from Townhill or a streetkid in Rio, football gives you hope.

But don't we have a duty that exceeds promoting a sport ahead of social values.

FIFA says it has a duty to take football to countries outside the usual. That, they say is why Qatar won the vote.

But doesn't FIFA have a greater duty? When awarding a World cup shouldn't they take social deprivation, poverty, crimes against children, women and homophobia and racism into account?

Or is the (somewhat discredited) mantra that a World cup brings money into the country and helps to improve things?

That same mantra is trotted out about the Olympics but most countries admit to a net loss in the end.

Maybe I have just got an overdeveloped social conscience but until FIFA and football gets its act together I shall stick to being a Swansea fanatic.

International football, the World cup and the European championships, I can do without.

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