Letters: ‘Beautiful game’ turned into an ugly racket

These letters appear in the 6 June edition of The Independent

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So it’s goodbye to the perennially venal Fifa president Sepp Blatter, who dodged a deadly bullet by not initially being implicated in the international bribery scandal and fell on his sword in feigned nobility.

It speaks volumes that corrupt financial arrangements proved his undoing, and not even a passing thought was spared for the 1,200 migrant workers who have died so far building a stadium fit for the 2022 World Cup in Qatar. However, the beleaguered boss will actually stay in his post until a fit replacement is elected.

US attorney general Loretta Lynch said the scandal was “rampant, deep-rooted and systemic”. Fifa executives and corporate executives have now come under suspicion on no fewer than 47 counts of money laundering, tax evasion and racketeering.

On top of that, ex-VP Jack Warner allegedly took a $10m bribe from an anonymous official at the body to secure South Africa’s bid for the 2010 World Cup. It was reported in many press outlets that such bribery has been going on for decades and has netted Fifa at least $150m.

I have no doubt that Maggie Thatcher would be proud. Her regime pioneered modern globalisation and deregulation, and it didn’t take long for corporate talking heads to turn the “beautiful game” into the very ugly racket it is known as today. Ticket price increases soon followed, and obscenely lucrative sponsorship deals became the norm as they are today. Indeed, it is no mere coincidence that bosses consistently gaining at the expense of fans reflects the inequalities of capitalism in a broader sense.

Just as football fans must take the news of this flagitious scheme as a vital opportunity to reclaim the game, workers must also intensify demands for improvements in our living and working standards.

Daniel Pitt
Mountain Ash, Rhondda Cynon Taf


Russia and Qatar were duly awarded the hosting of the football World Cup in 2018 and 2022 respectively. There are several voices now which are asking that these venues be stripped and the hosting of the World Cup be awarded to the UK and Australia instead. Building work has started in Russia and Qatar to get ready in time. Millions of pounds would have already been spent.

If these venues are to be stripped, Russia and Qatar would demand compensation, not to mention mount legal challenges. The obvious question is, who will compensate these countries for the expenses incurred so far, which could run into several hundred million pounds?

Mustafa Haqqani
Lymm, Cheshire


One matter needs an explanation. How did Blatter get re-elected when he was up to his ears in a scandal which caused him to resign four days later? Who are these people who voted for him so readily and what was the strong motive which drove them to do so?

Tony Pointon


Why did the world have to rely on the US to drain the Fifa cesspit? Do the Americans really have to do everything?

Sean Nee


Who says academies are always better?

Nicky Morgan says failing schools will be turned into academies. Why is turning schools into academies considered to be an all-encompassing answer to diverse difficulties?

The growth of academies means  that services previously provided by councils are now out for hire from private parties. For instance, the assessment of primary school children is now big business.

These measures will lead to the privatisation of schools. Schools in affluent areas will flourish with wealthy parents footing the bill. Small rural schools will fall by the wayside, while schools in troubled areas will sink ever deeper into the chaos so often suffered by disadvantaged children.

There is good reason to suspect Ofsted has different criteria when inspecting academies. I have direct experience of two academies. Both are situated in areas that have high levels of poverty and all the problems that stem from that.

Both academies have recently received reports of good with outstanding features, but having worked with staff there I know these schools have serious disciplinary problems: racism and violence, verbal and physical, are a part of everyday life in these schools. The staff are stressed, overworked and demoralised.

Just saying an academy is better than a council-run school does not make it so. Our education system is being dismantled and there are rich business men getting richer on the back of it while the poor are corralled into a corner with the dunce’s hat firmly wedged on to their heads.

Mary Jowett-More
Stroud, Gloucestershire


Blame for the plight of the Rohingyas

Peter Popham’s World View (30 May) on the Rohingyas, describing their abominable treatment at the hands of people traffickers, appears to lay blame almost entirely at the door of the Burmese government and the suggested complicit silence of Aung San Suu Kyi’s National League for Democracy.

The Rohingya crisis has a long-standing history preceding the NLD. Even the Home Office has acknowledged that they have been subjected to extreme human rights abuses. International sanctions have been imposed against Burma.

Your article ignores the apathy with which neighbouring Islamic countries regard the Rohingya crisis. There are an estimated 26,000 Rohingya in Bangladesh living in two squalid camps at Cox’s Bazaar, called Kutupalong and Nayapara, and probably also an estimated 100,000 unregistered Rohingya living in Bangladesh near the border with Burma.

Asean member countries such as Malaysia and Indonesia have collaborated in the exploitation of Burmese natural resources, from which the Burmese military have benefited, and have chosen to put commercial interests ahead of social justice. Likewise India, which also has developed close trading relationships with Burma, has ignored the pre-eminent place given to minorities in its own constitution, when dealing with Burma.

The oppression of the Rohingyas is indeed a stain on the state of Burma but likewise highlights the callous indifference of countries who could have made a difference.

Joseph Mullen
Former UN adviser to the government of Burma
Ferring, West Sussex


Reasons to stop burning coal and oil

The global Apollo Programme will not have been a “huge waste of money” even if climate change does turn out not to be a genuine threat (editorial, 2 June). Being able to generate power efficiently and cheaply from renewable resources is a goal we should have been working towards for at least the last 40 years.

If we don’t need to burn oil and coal to heat our homes or fuel our vehicles, then we will still have them to make the useful and essential commodities we currently rely on them for, and will have this resource for many centuries to come.

Mark Holling
North Berwick, East Lothian


I wish you would stop referring to “climate change sceptics” (“ ‘Slowdown’ in climate change exposed as fallacy”, 5 June). It is no more reasonable to describe them so than it would be to call the Flat Earth Society “globe sceptics”.  

Mike Perry
Ickenham, Middlesex


Listen to the people

Far from being Orwellian, the Government’s decision to monitor mentions and sentiment on social media is commonplace in the commercial world and is an essential part of serving the public properly (“Your tweets are now the Government’s business”, 5 June).

Public relations practitioners have long argued that organisations need to stop just broadcasting messages to the public and instead also listen to what the public believes.

Organisations which adopt a tin ear to social media are less able to understand public opinion and to change their behaviour in the light of evolving ethical standards.

Alex Singleton
London E17


Proud of Lib Dems in government

While obviously disappointed with the electorate’s reaction to the Liberal Democrats’ participation in the last government (letter, 5 June), I can only repeat what I said at the time: you are damned if you do and damned if you don’t. I am proud of their achievements even if others are not.

Barry E Lofty
Thatcham, Berkshire


Too late for internet health checks

I note that the internet health test which predicts how long you will live (4 June) can only be completed by those under 70 years old. This is presumably because the authors considered that anyone over that age might as well be dead anyway.

Wendy McMullan