Monthly Archives: December 2010

Gideon Rachman

My friends the Taiwanese animators have drawn my attention to their latest effort – an animated cartoon explaining the rise and fall of Ireland. Once again, it is an inspired creation. The economics are faultless, the political interpretation is sharp – and I particularly liked the cute Celtic Tiger and the Riverdance theme. Who knew that an economic crisis could be so entertaining?

  

In this week’s podcast: Eurozone debt and the risks of contagion, with Richard Milne and Ralph Atkins; Wikileaks and the Middle East with Roula Khalaf; EU structural funds with Cynthia O’Murchu and Peter Spiegel. 

Gideon Rachman

I have just flown back into London from Dubai to find the city covered in snow and in a slough of depression, after England’s failure to get the World Cup in 2018. Russia got the nod. And Qatar, incredibly (given the heat there in summer) will host the 2022 World Cup.

The best comment so far was an e-mail I received from a colleague, shortly after the verdict was announced: “Russia get 2018 World Cup; just what a game accused of corruption needs.” Still, at least, nobody would ever associate Qatar with corruption.

Actually, I think it was probably the accusations of corruption in FIFA – emanating from the BBC and the Sunday Times of London – that finally did for the English bid. You don’t have to worry about that sort of thing in Russia, where from time to time investigative journalists are murdered or beaten up. 

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RB = Roger Blitz, the FT’s sports & leisure correspondent (in Zurich)
DD = Darren Dodd, an FT news editor

RB Fifa will sell this as votes for new frontiers, a la South Africa. The accusation of collusion is dampened by Russia’s victory. For England, going out in the first round only reinforces the argument that when it comes to football politics, England just does not get it.

Simon Gray in France asks: What time of year are they going to play the 2022 World Cup? In July it is about 50C in the shade in Qatar. Players will be dying, literally. Air-conditioned indoor stadiums? I suppose they can afford it.

Robert Orr in New York says not many tears were shed at the bar over the US losing out to Qatar in 2022. Pundits on ESPN, which was at least broadcasting the decision live, were more concerned about how to pronounce the Gulf state’s name. Cat-ar? Quat-ar? They quickly moved on to the  more important matter of Lebron James’ return to Cleveland later this evening…

Michael Kavanagh is back to reading L’Equipe. The site says Russia won despite a “dangerous risk” around transport considering the huge distances between host cities. It predicts that Russian football, already turbocharged by petroroubles, will gain further prominence.

Mark Mulligan in Madrid says: There’s deep disappointment in Madrid, but television commentators are at least conceding that perhaps Spain – and more so Portugal – have bigger issues to deal with at the moment, a reference to the eurozone crisis.

Iberia’s bid was built around quality of football and transport infrastructure, love of the game across the two countries and their natural appeal as tourist destinations.

Also, of course, Spain felt that it deserved to host a World Cup after its fine performance and subsequent victory in this year’s tournament.

HM: And in all Sepp Blatter’s waffle before the announcement, note how he referred to China as the place where football was born. A 2026 bid from Beijing, anyone? Then again, Blatter did call England “the motherland”.

Henry Mance: So Batman – as WikiLeaks had him – will be flying to Zurich after all!

and the 2022 host is…..Qatar

2018 winner is Russia 

Gideon Rachman

The Wikileaks saga continues to dominate the foreign pages. So should I revise my opinion that it’s all a huge fuss about surprisingly little? A bit - but only a bit.

In my last post, I said that there was only one revelation that had half-surprised me – and this was the idea that the Saudis are urging an attack on Iran. Since then, there has one other thing that struck me as real news -and that is the suggestion that China is prepared to accept a reunified Korea, which still played host to American troops. But, even here, it’s not clear that how far the Chinese sources cited actually reflect a unified and settled position in Beijing. It sounds to me more like a single official, reflecting a policy discussion that is underway in China. It’s interesting to get a glimpse of that discussion. But, again, I think you could probably assume that in a sophisticated government like China’s, these kinds of option would be under discussion.