Richard Ingrams: Fifa is football's answer to Eurovision

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The Independent Online

The events in Zurich, tragic or farcical depending on one's attitude to the beautiful game of football, remind me more than anything of the Eurovision Song Contest.

Here again it was customary for the press to build up the United Kingdom's hopes of winning in spite of all we knew about the dubiousness of the voting. And the outcome was almost always the same – nul point.

Eventually everybody seemed to accept that the only way to deal with the Eurovision Song Contest was to treat it as a big joke. Sir Terry Wogan was sent out by the BBC every year to send the whole thing up, and we all had a good sneer at the foreigners and their corrupt ways.

With Fifa, we don't seem to have got the message yet. Hence the cries of "we wuz robbed" and the egg on the faces of all concerned – the FA, the press, David Cameron and poor Prince William, who may in future think twice about getting involved in any of the Prime Minister's publicity stunts. At least it wasn't a case of nul point. We did actually get two votes from the panel, though one of them was that of our own representative.







Let Bishop Pete speak the truth

It is good to see supporters rallying behind the Rev Pete Broadbent, the Bishop of Willesden, who was last month suspended "from the public ministry" for his remarks on Facebook about the forthcoming royal wedding.

Possibly as a result of taking a glass of sherry too many, the bishop informed the world that the marriage would last no longer than seven years and that he was offended by all the publicity, which he described as "nauseating tosh".

It may be going a bit far to suggest that Bishop Pete speaks for England, but hundreds of supporters have now rallied behind him on a Facebook page and even the former Archbishop of Canterbury, George Carey, has said he considers Bishop Pete's punishment too severe.

Defending the suspension, a spokesman for the bearded Bishop of London Richard Chartres, known to be a good friend of Prince Charles, says that clergy are entitled to express their views, "but what was different here was the manner in which they were expressed".

But nauseating tosh is what it is, and we are going to get a whole lot more of it in the months ahead. In the light of that I hereby nominate Bishop Pete as my man of the year.







Are we in for another 70-year silence?

Last month Kenneth Clarke released the pathologist's report on Dr David Kelly in order, he said, to restore our faith in Lord Hutton and his inquiry into the weapons inspector's death. Hutton had mysteriously decreed that the report should be kept secret for 70 years in order not to distress the Kelly family.

While various commentators were reassured that Kelly had indeed committed suicide, it went unnoticed that a huge amount of material in the form of so-called personal witness statements to the Hutton inquiry still remain under lock and key for the statutory 70-year period. These include statements from some of the chief players in the Kelly tragedy – men like defence minister Geoff Hoon, who, when later sacked from the Cabinet by Tony Blair, is reported to have threatened to reveal facts about the Kelly affair that would lead to Blair's downfall.

Now the Wikileaks documents released this week reveal that, prior to the launch of the Chilcot inquiry, the Ministry of Defence's director-general for security policy, Jon Day, informed the US government that measures had been put in place "to protect your interests during the UK inquiry into the Iraq war".

Will some foolhardy MP now dare to ask the Government what these measures were? And will he be told that all such information has been embargoed for 70 years, to avoid giving distress to Mr Bush and Mr Blair?

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