Inside Lines: New concern for Fifa ahead of World Cup 2022 after anti-Zionist row in Qatar


Alan Hubbard
Sunday 26 January 2014 01:01 GMT
The prime minister has already made Karren Brady his small-business czar and the latest word from Westminster is that she will also be given a peerage
The prime minister has already made Karren Brady his small-business czar and the latest word from Westminster is that she will also be given a peerage

With the current cloud of anti-Semitic allegations hovering over football, Fifa must be praying that Israel do not qualify for the 2022 World Cup in Qatar. For hard on the heels of the disturbing concerns over excessive heat, homophobia and mass deaths of migrant construction workers comes an incident at the recent Swimming World Cup in the capital Doha when the Qatari hosts refused to display the name “Israel” during TV broadcasts and removed Israeli flags from outside the venue.

The International Swimming Association (Fina) have issued strong warnings both to Qatar and Dubai, where Israeli athletes suffered similar discrimination. Shouldn’t Fifa be doing the same? Especially as only last week the United Arab Emirates refused permission for Israel-born defender Dan Mori to enter the country with his Dutch club Vitesse Arnhem for friendly matches in Abu Dhabi because they do not recognise Israel as a state.

Brady to lord it?

West Ham may be on the way down at the moment but there is only one way their feisty chief executive Karren Brady is heading – and that’s up. Politically speaking. The prime minister has already made her his small-business czar and the latest word from Westminster is that she will also be given a peerage. So we look forward to Baroness Brady of Upton Park taking her place as football’s first lady on the opposite bench to Lord Sugar, late of White Hart Lane, with whom, of course, she has served a most useful Apprenticeship.

Eagle still airborne

Still treated as a pariah by the unamused British Olympic Association and ignored by the BBC as a pundit for the Winter Olympics, Eddie Edwards nevertheless manages to land on his feet. Twenty six years after The Eagle soared – if somewhat gingerly – in Calgary, the bloke they dismissed as a bespectacled buffoon with bottle continues to earn a decent crust on the back of his low-flying feat. After donning budgie-smugglers to win ITV’s Splash, he is on the box again tonight in yet another “celeb” sports reality show, teaching a dozen or so notables, from comics to cricketers, how to become winter-sports wonders.

With fellow former Olympians Amy Williams and Graham Bell he has been in Austria coaching the likes of Sir Steve Regrave, Darren Gough, Anthea Turner, Marcus Brigstock and a Pussycat Doll in how to survive the perils of the downhill, ski jumping, speed skating and the skeleton. The show, compered by Barry Davies, goes out live every night for the next week. Five-times Olympic rowing medalist Redgrave should be a snow shoo-in to win. He is an accomplished skier and qualified instructor, albeit for dry slopes.

But he tells us: “When it comes to ski jumping and the skeleton I’m well out of my comfort zone. They’re terrifying.” As for Edwards, now 50, the Eagle dares to hope that he can qualify for the 2018 Games. “I’m lighter and fitter than in Calgary and I reckon I could jump further. So I’ll be looking for a sponsor.” Might Ryanair be interested, as they also often land some distance from their destination?

Tweet and sour

Andy Hunt , whose cheer-leading social media utterings were parodied as Randy Shunt during the 2012 Olympics, left his post as chief executive of the BOA a year ago; a fact he seemed to have overlooked. For he has been forced to close his Twitter account following the threat of legal action after apparently continuing to use his former association under the Twitter sign @AndyHunt_Team GB.

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