What We're Reading

Politicians, Businessmen Influence the Beautiful Game

FIFA mandates that soccer be separate from politics, but Rob Hughes of the International Herald Tribune argues that "the foreign acquisition of England's clubs has happened too fast and penetrated too deep for FIFA or UEFA, the governing bodies of world and European soccer, to intervene." Indeed, in some countries, large investments are sometimes tied directly to the government. Take Manchester City owner Thaksin Shinawatra: he's currently standing trial in Thailand on two counts of abuse of power during the time when he was the country's prime minister. Or consider Dubai International Capital, the Dubai investment group keen on taking Liverpool away from American owners Tom Hicks and George Gillett. DIC was founded by Sheikh Mohammed Al Maktoum, prime minister of the United Arab Emirates and ruler of Dubai.

Hughes points out that five years ago, soccer wasn't so directly tied to politics and big money -- and one usually follows the other. He adds that there have been some blatant abuses of the sport by these politicians, too. For example, Thaksin, realizing that a return to his homeland would probably result in his arrest, brought along two Manchester City players to hold coaching clinics for youngsters wanting to play the sport. It's no coincidence that Thaksin aimed to show such good faith to the Thai people at precisely the time he was to be brought up on charges of political abuse. "Manchester City will be a team Thais can be proud of," Thaksin said on television before his arrest last week. "There will be a Man City China, a Man City Japan, Man City U.S. In the next seasons, Man City will be another Man United."

Read the whole story at International Herald Tribune »

Next story loading loading..

Discover Our Publications