There is still one sporting organisation worse than FIFA

Law enforcement has finally caught up with the public concerning the Fédération Internationale de Football Association. And given that it is the United States taking action, this investigation is not going to go away until vengeance is sated. FIFA might not exist as we know it by the time the US Department of Justice is through with them. Whatever emerges from this latest scandal is unlikely to feel revelatory, given the standards for graft FIFA have already set for themselves. They are, in short, quite irredeemable in their current state. And yet, I still cannot bring myself to view them as the most objectionable sporting administrators on the planet. That dubious accolade deserves to belong to the International Olympic Committee. FIFA admittedly have probably overtaken the IOC in the bribery stakes. Since the scandals associated with the 2002 Winter Olympics, the IOC’s outrages have tended to be perpetrated in plain sight, their lofty demands cravenly acceded to by vain politicians seeking reflected glory.

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We’ll miss Obama when he’s gone

It is often easy to feel disappointment when considering the presidency of Barack Obama. He may have assumed the presidency during the worst global economic crisis for 80 years, and while his policy response have been far better than Europe’s leaders have managed, there is a sense that he might have allowed that crisis to go to waste. On foreign policy, he has been an enthusiast for drone warfare. What blowback this may produce in time can only be guessed at, but it’s safe to assume that it is and will continue to be a huge source of grievance in the lands subjected to this form of attack. And then there is the litany of NSA abuses, exposed two years ago by Edward Snowden. Connected to the overseeing of this egregious mass surveillance on ordinary citizens is the president’s unprecedented crackdown on whistleblowers, with more prosecutions brought by his administration than all of his predecessors combined.

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The narrow confines of British public debate

My parents were quite liberal when it came to bedtime and television, and I’ve always been grateful for it. I grew up in the 1980s watching Sportsnight on Wednesdays (a school night), The A-Team on Thursdays (another school night), and Spitting Image on Sundays (the most important school night). Spitting Image’s irreverent towards the most powerful people in the land was always exciting. Even before I’d reached the age of 10, I knew that in Ireland our broadcasters didn’t have the guts to make programmes like it. A sketch that remains particularly vivid involved the Norman Lamont puppet repeatedly saying to a literally grey John Major, “If you say something often enough, people will believe you”. Very funny, I thought, but surely if there is overwhelming evidence that you’re wrong, your credibility will be shot? No?

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