The Last Word: Mr Blatter, the party's over

Brazilians riot against football and Pele is ridiculed – the end is nigh for costly World Cups and Olympics

The beautiful game is up. When Brazil is conditioned to hate the World Cup and its people traduce Pele as a traitor, football has lost its relevance and its reason. International sport may never be the same again.

Revolutions are sudden, instinctive and deadly. Empty rhetoric, regurgitated by grandees such as Sepp Blatter, has been rejected by those who want schools and hospitals rather than bread and circuses. It is hard to avoid the conclusion a tipping point has been reached.

Violent images from Brazil, of demonstrators silhouetted by flames and riot police using rubber bullets and pepper spray to suppress mass protest, have a relevance beyond the current Confederations Cup, next year's World Cup and the 2016 Olympics in Rio. Once major sports events become a focal point for social unrest and political opportunism, in the way such global governmental summits as G8 attract activists, they are an embarrassment rather than an embellishment to a nation's image.

Little wonder the invisible army of sleek-suited parasites who have subjugated sport to their own commercial ends are terrified; sponsors and TV executives will peer into the abyss and recognise the toxicity of their situation.

Should they revert to type, the men who run organisations such as Fifa and the IOC will only trust themselves to partner undemocratic and unyielding regimes. The natural extension to football's World Cup cycle, following dubious staging posts in Russia and Qatar, is to pitch up in North Korea.

Yet they are deaf to those who resent their irreconcilable privileges. Fifa made in excess of £2 billion from the 2010 World Cup, leaving South Africa's fragile economy to underwrite building programmes, infrastructure projects, policing and security strategies. London's Olympic legacy is negligible.

The World Cup, like the Olympics, is collapsing under the weight of its pretension. When Blatter lectured protesters for threatening football's "spirit, essence and integrity" he was reminded that he succeeded a Brazilian, Joao Havelange, who was exposed as corrupt and despotic.

As the discredited president of a discredited organisation, Blatter acted in character by scuttling away from the protests of two million citizens, galvanised by the inequalities represented by sports events which have become too big, too costly and too grandiose in times of economic hardship.

He was blind to the irony of his refuge, Turkey, whose hopes of staging the 2020 Olympics have been swallowed by the flames of simultaneous internal unrest, timed to coincide with the Under-20 World Cup. Fundamental change is in the air.

The fate of Pele informs us of the limited power of legend. The sense of betrayal and the subsequent loss of respect when he vilified demonstrators as "bandits and bad people" was profound. Romario, a World Cup winner turned congressman, dismissed him as "a poet, when his mouth is shut".

Footballers are becoming politicised. The Brazil players David Luiz, Dani Alves, Hulk and Fred spoke in unison, supporting those who took to the streets. Neymar accused his government of ignoring their "obligation" to the Brazilian people.

The game has been a source of pride, a unifying factor in a disparate country. The passion remains – many players were on the verge of tears when a sell-out crowd sang an a capella version of the national anthem before the recent win over Mexico – but the poison must be extracted. Blatter and his cronies should be consigned to the dustbin of history as soon as is convenient.

It's hard to lose a leader like Cram

Bureaucrats breathed a sigh of relief yesterday when Steve Cram announced his intention to step down as chairman of the English Institute of Sport.

It is a decade too late for those whose shortcomings were exposed by the former world-record holder's insight, intelligence and political nous. I'll declare an interest. Cram and a visionary named Wilma Shakespear persuaded me to take a five-year sabbatical from scribbling to help set up the EIS.

It was an instructive process. No sooner had we been empowered to oversee a strategic vision for supporting Olympic athletes than there was a concerted attempt to kill the organisation at birth.

Establishment figures sent in shamefully expensive management consultants to waste time and money which would have been better invested in a new generation of sport scientists.

We survived, and thrived. A new culture has been developed by young, fiercely committed and impeccably qualified support staff, who make the critical difference.

The EIS have more than 200 practitioners, who worked with 86 per cent of the Team GB medallists at the London Olympic and Paralympic Games.

Without Cram, that would not have been possible. He is precisely the sort of leader British sport cannot afford to lose.

GB's scam prix

British motor racing fans are deserting next week's British Grand Prix at Silverstone in droves because of exploitative ticket prices, which begin at £145. Formula One, a sport so self-obsessed it has spent weeks creating a crisis out of a team's clandestine tyre-testing, deserves everything it gets.

News
Susan Sarandon described David Bowie as
peopleSusan Sarandon reveals more on her David Bowie romance
Sport
Arsenal supporters gather for a recent ‘fan party’ in New Jersey
football
Sport
sportDidier Drogba returns to Chelsea on one-year deal
News
i100
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment
The Secret Cinema performance of Back to the Future has been cancelled again
film
Life and Style
Balmain's autumn/winter 2014 campaign, shot by Mario Sorrenti and featuring Binx Walton, Cara Delevingne, Jourdan Dunn, Ysaunny Brito, Issa Lish and Kayla Scott
fashionHow Olivier Rousteing is revitalising the house of Balmain
Arts and Entertainment
Christian Grey cradles Ana in the Fifty Shades of Grey film
filmFifty Shades of Grey trailer provokes moral outrage in US
News
people
News
BBC broadcaster and presenter Evan Davis, who will be taking over from Jeremy Paxman on Newsnight
peopleForget Paxman - what will Evan Davis be like on Newsnight?
Life and Style
fashionCustomer complained about the visibly protruding ribs
News
newsComedy club forced to apologise as maggots eating a dead pigeon fall out of air-conditioning
Arts and Entertainment
Jo Brand says she's mellowed a lot
tvJo Brand says shows encourage people to laugh at the vulnerable
Life and Style
People may feel that they're procrastinating by watching TV in the evening
life
News
Tovey says of homeless charity the Pillion Trust : 'If it weren't for them and the park attendant I wouldn't be here today.'
people
Sport
Rhys Williams
commonwealth games
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Bleacher Report

Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Day In a Page

Evan Davis: The BBC’s wolf in sheep’s clothing to take over at Newsnight

The BBC’s wolf in sheep’s clothing

What will Evan Davis be like on Newsnight?
Finding the names for America’s shame: What happens to the immigrants crossing the US-Mexico border without documents who never make it past the Arizona desert?

Finding the names for America’s shame

The immigrants crossing the US-Mexico border without documents who never make it past the Arizona desert
Inside a church for Born Again Christians: Speaking to God in a Manchester multiplex

Inside a church for Born Again Christians

As Britain's Anglican church struggles to establish its modern identity, one branch of Christianity is booming
Rihanna, Kim Kardashian and me: How Olivier Rousteing is revitalising the house of Balmain

Olivier Rousteing is revitalising the house of Balmain

Parisian couturier Pierre Balmain made his name dressing the mid-century jet set. Today, Olivier Rousteing – heir to the house Pierre built – is celebrating their 21st-century equivalents. The result? Nothing short of Balmania
Cancer, cardiac arrest, HIV and homelessness - and he's only 39

Incredible survival story of David Tovey

Tovey went from cooking for the Queen to rifling through bins for his supper. His is a startling story of endurance against the odds – and of a social safety net failing at every turn
Backhanders, bribery and abuses of power have soared in China as economy surges

Bribery and abuses of power soar in China

The bribery is fuelled by the surge in China's economy but the rules of corruption are subtle and unspoken, finds Evan Osnos, as he learns the dark arts from a master
Commonwealth Games 2014: Highland terriers stole the show at the opening ceremony

Highland terriers steal the show at opening ceremony

Gillian Orr explores why a dog loved by film stars and presidents is finally having its day
German art world rocked as artists use renowned fat sculpture to distil schnapps

Brewing the fat from artwork angers widow of sculptor

Part of Joseph Beuys' 1982 sculpture 'Fettecke' used to distil schnapps
BBC's The Secret History of Our Streets reveals a fascinating window into Britain's past

BBC takes viewers back down memory lane

The Secret History of Our Streets, which returns with three films looking at Scottish streets, is the inverse of Benefits Street - delivering warmth instead of cynicism
Joe, film review: Nicolas Cage delivers an astonishing performance in low budget drama

Nicolas Cage shines in low-budget drama Joe

Cage plays an ex-con in David Gordon Green's independent drama, which has been adapted from a novel by Larry Brown
How to make your own gourmet ice lollies, granitas, slushy cocktails and frozen yoghurt

Make your own ice lollies and frozen yoghurt

Think outside the cool box for this summer's tempting frozen treats
Ford Fiesta is UK's most popular car of all-time, with sales topping 4.1 million since 1976

Fiesta is UK's most popular car of all-time

Sales have topped 4.1 million since 1976. To celebrate this milestone, four Independent writers recall their Fiestas with pride
10 best reed diffusers

Heaven scent: 10 best reed diffusers

Keep your rooms smelling summery and fresh with one of these subtle but distinctive home fragrances that’ll last you months
Commonwealth Games 2014: Female boxers set to compete for first time

Female boxers set to compete at Commonwealth Games for first time

There’s no favourites and with no headguards anything could happen
Five things we’ve learned so far about Manchester United under Louis van Gaal

Five things we’ve learned so far about United under Van Gaal

It’s impossible to avoid the impression that the Dutch manager is playing to the gallery a little