27 May 2015 Comments 0

We had some fun today.

It comes on top of some serious work we’ve been involved in as FIFA’s Official Non-Sponsor, such as a global fans’ survey which showed just how strong the level of discontent is with FIFA; urging fans to write to their football associations about the FIFA Presidential election later this week; and, last week, the launch of our Hypocrisy World Cup campaign. That last one was with Sharan Burrow of the ITUC, Stephen Russell of Playfair Qatar and Damian Collins on behalf of #NewFIFANow.

Today, we delivered the good news about FIFA.

‘There is some?’ you ask.

Well, no. But inspired by a stunt I saw the Canadian duo, The Yes Men, do in 2008 after the election of Barack Obama, we put together a newspaper spoof using the masthead of the International Herald Tribune.

It was terrific. Every football fans’ dream. The headlines included:

  • Sepp Blatter discussing re-running the 2018 and 2022 votes
  • FIFA partners making shock threat to quit without radical reform
  • The shortlist of eminent persons to head the FIFA Reform Commission
  • Blatter to introduce sweeping reforms
  • The UN intervening to make FIFA finances transparent.

Take a look at the paper here (in English, French, German or Spanish). And for a bit more fun, take a look at some film footage of the surprised reaction of Zurich commuters as they were given their complimentary newspaper.

As well as the spoof on the serious news, we added in some humour – such as ‘Hot, Hot, Hot!’ property deals in Qatar and elsewhere; a match report on a genuine World Cup qualifier to be played next month between Qatar and the Maldives – this one with Lionel Messi playing for Qatar; and 3 tips from FIFA’s former Ethics Committee chief, Michael Garcia, for people who want to travel in style. You’ll even find the weather report for the capital cities of the countries that bid for the 2018 and 2022 World Cup. No surprise in guessing which city is the hottest!

Check out the excellent article establishing how FIFA gets F.U.C.T. through the creation of a new financial transparency unit; a real hoot.

But, of course, with the parody there is a serious message also – and that is, we love football, but we abhor and are embarrassed by the way the game is managed by a pack of arseclowns.

As I, and others, have said before here at the Water Cooler and elsewhere, football doesn’t belong to Sepp Blatter, to the Executive Committee, or to the FIFA Congress.

As the Chairman of a commercial company which lives and dies by our customers, I’m sure the major sponsors understand football doesn’t belong to them either, despite the large sums of money they contribute.

In the editorial, we issued a challenge to the FIFA Congress and again to the sponsors, and I’ll quote from it:

“For the Congress – this Congress is an opportunity to be on the right side of history. Show fans, players and the children of the world that you love the game more than you love your role in it. 

“For the partners and sponsors – it is time for you to live up to your respective corporate values. It’s time to show your moral compass and to hold an organisation to which you contribute so much financially, to account.”

Regardless of who wins the FIFA Presidential election on Friday, the work of #NewFIFANow and us as Official Non-Sponsor will not end.

As I said at the media conference today, we won’t be deterred from our campaign to reform FIFA. We’re in this for the long haul.

Enjoy the read – but please don’t forget also to write to sponsors and let them know what you think about their hypocrisy.

It’s good to have some fun – as we did in putting this together – but beneath the fun, we’re resolute.