It’s just three months since the fresh start at FIFA HQ but already the signs are not good. First came a leaked document, in the haul from Panamanian law firm Mossack Fonseca, linking New Broom President Infantino with improperly selling 2006 Champions League football broadcast rights in Ecuador. The claim being that these rights were sold to two South American front men who then immediately re-sold them for almost three times the price. A common ploy, apparently, for paying disguised bribes and kickbacks.
Then this month FIFA appointed its first female secretary general to replace the banned Jerome Valkcke. Good move. And who was the high-profile appointee to this critical post? The head of womens football in, say, Germany? A former international player or even a football club owner – like Norwich City’s Delia Smith?
No. It was a Ms Fatma Samoura, a UN official who has represented six different African countries during her 21 years there. But lacking any apparent experience of football or indeed any form of sports administration. Needless to say the reaction amongst football fans was one of incredulity.
Just one day later came the news that FIFA Audit and Compliance Chairman Domenico Scala had resigned in protest against a power grab by President Gianni Infantino over control of independent panels that monitor the governing body.
Then this week saw FIFA dismiss its Deputy Secretary General (Markus Kattner) with immediate effect. The reason – he is accused of paying himself bonuses totaling millions of euros during the time he was Director of Finance.
So FIFA’s tattered reputation is still on the way down – and that’s before all the court cases relating to former officials get started …
One more month nearer to the UK referendum on EU membership and one final check on the state of the Poll of Polls results at whatukthinks.org.
With the Remain promoters warning of everything from falling house prices to threats of war; from NHS collapse to financial recession, fear-inducing predictions have continued to be the basis of the big arguments. This coupled with the fact that many left-leaning voters who also support leaving the EU are being branded right-wing extremists helps send floating voters towards Remain.
In contrast the Leave campaign does not seem to getting much traction despite such threats as British Army units being commanded by Brussels and Turkey getting full EU benefits without having formal membership. Even the knowledge that the EU is holding back on unpopular directives and delaying cost-increasing budgets has not been used to full effect.
Clearly this continued drift, in the surveys, towards a Remain victory would tie Britain to the EU family for the foreseeable future. While also putting any future questions about Britain’s EU membership off the table for the lifetime of every one of today’s Grandads.
This result in the actual vote would, of course, be both good and bad news. With so many of the rich and powerful on the Remain side the result would confirm that enough voters had done as they were told – and the Eurocrat elite could press ahead with their plans for our future without any effective challenges. That would be good news for them and avoid Britain being treated as deserters (to quote President Juncker) by the EU’s power brokers for years to come.
The bad news would arrive for us, the lower classes, when the full scale of the Europa Projekt became apparent and when we saw how Britain’s views, and promised safeguards, were out-voted or ignored.
For Scotland this result would leave the SNP in the position of having won the EU vote but lost their best excuse yet for having a second Scotland-UK exit referendum. An outcome that would probably be for the best, since the Europa Projekt is based upon the removal of national boundaries and excluding nationalist politicians. So making it impossible for Scotland to be both an independent nation and an EU member.
However this is just a summary of opinion polls – there could be a very different vote this time next month …
All the news reports about Greece this year have been about migrants. But that does not mean that the nation’s financial position has improved in any way. It has simply become old news.
But just how bad things still are can be judged by today’s news that the International Monetary Fund (IMF) has proposed that the Eurozone accepts major delays in the repayment of Greek bailout loans. Apparently asking that Greece be allowed to defer any loan or interest repayments until 2040 onwards. Considering that the current loans have an interest rate of just 1.5 percent and no one knows where bank interest rates will be in twenty four years time – or what governments will be in power by then – this is a big concession. Almost as bad as writing-off the entire debt.
Certainly the German Finance Minister (Wolfgang Schaeuble) was unimpressed with the plan being reported today as saying that he will not allow that as long as he is finance minister. And it is hard to imagine that any national treasurer would be happy having billions of euros taken out their economy for decades – especially when 2040 is just the start of a forty year repayment period. This, coupled with fading expectations of the approval of more funds for Greece at the meeting of Eurozone finance ministers next week, means that the Greek economy is still in intensive care …
After all those hours spent watching this year’s Eurovision Song Contest we should have learnt something. But many Grandads will today be wondering what?
Certainly the Swedish hosts laid out a spectacular show; one of the best. And the presenters managed to carry off their multi-talented performances in all three live shows with few, if any, glitches. And right up to the final round of scoring things looked set fair. Australia were well ahead in the jury voting and the UK entry was about midway down the field – a situation that seemed to fairly reflect the quality of the songs and their performances. But then the scores from the phone-in votes hit the fan and everything fell apart. Britain’s placing went down like a burst balloon. Poland went from having just 7 points at halfway to suddenly having 229 points and eighth place. Australia’s substantial lead over everyone else evaporated as Ukraine was given a massive 323 points for reasons that were clearly unrelated to the appeal of the song. Favourite Russia finished third.
So this Grandad didn’t learn anything new from Stockholm. Most countries still vote with a strong political bias, Britain is still Johnny No Mates and Russia is still a bear to be baited. Sweden tried so hard to create a musical Utopia – but in the end their dream was an illusion. Just sing c’est la vie ….
Tonight sees the first part of seven and half hours of live TV coverage this week marking the culmination of the Eurovision Song Contest for 2016. As usual Britain hopes that its entry will attract enough votes to avoid the final being another night of national embarrassment in front of a huge audience. And this year, to be fair, the British entry has shown some signs of doing a little better. Better than recent years that is.
However the Swedish producer of this year’s contest, Christer Björkman, has put the blame for Britain’s attitude – amongst both the public and any potential performers – down to Terry Wogan’s commentaries. Björkman claimed that Wogan’s commentary style had raised a generation of viewers believing this was a fun kitsch show that had no relevance whatsoever.
And it is true that Wogan would snipe at the acts and the political manoeuvring in the voting but they were all light hearted, amusing comments.
When he retired from the role in 2009 Wogan himself said Eurovision is an exciting, camp, foolish spectacle. You can’t top it. It is fun, light entertainment. It is the biggest of its kind anywhere in the world. It is not about politics or asserting your place in the community, not even about national pride. It is not an opportunity to show your neighbours how much you love them. It is about picking the best popular song in Europe. He described the annual contest as a triumph of appalling taste… Everybody in the UK knows it’s rubbish. I think I have brought the British public along with me and we now share an interest in it. Many of you may have heard my comments and don’t think I take it seriously enough and you are right, I don’t. But I am a friend of this contest, possibly its oldest friend. How do friends behave to each other? They tell each other the truth. They don’t indulge in idle flattery.
The Eurovision director of the time, Bjorn Erichsen, critised Wogan for not showing the contest enough respect, saying Terry Wogan is a problem because he makes it look ridiculous. I know he is very popular and maybe that is the reason why a lot of people watch. Views pretty much repeated last month by the current producer. But coming too soon after Terry’s death for some, Björkman’s comments seem to be those of a producer painfully aware of the show’s lack of mainstream music credibility.
So for a contest where the best entry for 2014 was a bearded Austrian drag artist – a camp, foolish spectacle seems to be a fair and accurate description.
On this day. Grandad’s real page from history for 8-May-1945; provided by the Dundee Evening Telegraph–
Grandad’s web page of the day