Monday 2 July 2018

Who will Win the World Cup?

says: "All power to the players! I give you Pernod, bitter and lager!"  

I don't know who will win the World Cup. I hope it will be England. I'd like to see England win again, and I think they deserve it. This is even though I am Welsh, not English. Russia look quite strong at the moment and it would be nice for them to win at home. I admire modern Russia politically and consider it one of the most progressive forces in geopolitics, see here for details: and: The champions, Germany, have now been knocked out. It's the first time Germany has exited in the tournament in the first round since 1938. That leaves the field more open for new talent. The question I get asked a lot is whether I think there is a conspiracy to rig the outcome. Match-fixing in sport is a conspiracy theory I have not studied in detail, primarily because it is not a conspiracy theory; it is a conspiracy fact. A number of players have been accused, most significantly Bruce Grobbelaar, a Zimbabwean goalkeeper who played for Liverpool. There are many other examples in football, some of which were proven; but cricket seems to be the biggest offender. One of the game's biggest stars, Hansie Cronje of South Africa, was caught red-handed and banned for life.

I watched the 1998 World Cup Final between France and Brazil. From the very start things looked suspicious. Ronaldo, Brazil's star player, as famous as Pele so he doesn't need another name, turned up at the Stade de France just a few minutes before kick-off. Rumour has it he had been admitted to A and E just an hour previously; but in truth, nobody knows for sure where he had been. Despite all this the referee let him play. It was a disappointing match. The football delivered by both sides was very poor. "Brazil are playing like a bunch of schoolgirls!" I remember one commentator yell in frustration; but France were not much better. So when France won 3-0, and so therefore the World Cup, it felt like an anticlimax. Despite this the French people went crazy with joy, breaking into all the country's famous wine cellars and downing all the ancient and precious bottles that had been stored there for ages. Then I recalled Diego "Handball" Maradona announce at the start of the tournament that it was rigged so that France would win. Nobody paid him much attention at the time, but then France did win. This could be a coincidence, but, let's face it, if anybody would be in the know when it comes to cheating it would be Maradona. If sport is fixed at such a high level then who is doing it and why? My guess is it's connected to sponsorship and gambling. Sport is one of the world's biggest industries and it has become more and more commercial in recent decades. I was shocked at the response of one of my friends when I discussed the 1998 Final with him. "Oh well." he shrugged. "Maybe next time it will be rigged so that England win it." I was dismayed by his attitude. He did not dispute my misgivings; he had in fact come to terms with match-fixing and accepted it as a normal part of the sporting experience. Did it not occur to him that if matches are fixed then they cease to become a competitive sport altogether? It turns them into a light entertainment farce, like the old weekend wrestling. I used to enjoy the Big Daddy and Giant Haystacks performances, but I knew it wasn't for real. Everybody knew it wasn't for real so there was no deception involved. In the case of football, cricket and other serious sports, there would be a massive deception and exploitation of players, enthusiasts and spectators.


Anonymous said...

Новый взгляд подходит тебе, Бен! Больничные носильщики против нового мирового порядка!

Ben Emlyn-Jones said...

Спасибо, товарищ. Очень признателен. Гордость и достоинство службы госпитализирования и вниз с иллюминатами!

MP for Porto-Novo North said...

You do realise that Benin is a small country in West Africa don't you?