Tuesday, July 18, 2006


Ko Colijn, ‘VN versus FIFA: 0-1’ [UN versus FIFA: 0-1], p26, 24 June 2006, Vrij Nederland

I know the FIFA craze is already over, but this is too good not to share.

I said it before, and this article confirmed my cynical views: people care more about football than what is going (wr)on(g) in the world. And that’s worrying. This delightfully clever article compares the game of football to the game of international politics. And it’s no surprise who wins.

“FIFA has 207 members, the UN must make do with sixteen less. About the rules of football there is never a difference of opinion. Everyone has the same definition of what is football.”

In football, everyone knows what a yellow or red card stands for, and when they are handed out. But not so in the world of international politics:

“In the United Nations red and yellow cards are arbitrary deal out, the one country has a greater goal than another, and sometimes competitions are extended or shortened for the need to achieve an acceptable result. What is acceptable is often decided by the five most powerful players. And if those five cannot agree in their Security Council, then the most powerful country can sometimes decide by itself to take a few penalty kicks and force a result."

FIFA has tried to be fair by selecting its referees and teams from all continents, and we just saw probably the most ‘unbiased’ football tournament in history, even though in the end it was more a European Cup than a World Cup. But in international politics it’s a ‘Winners Cup’:

“The manner by which world politics decides who the most powerful country in the world is simply weak. Whoever was strong and promising in the last (world) war came and received a place as permanent member in the Security Council, with veto right as well.


The European Union says it has a common foreign policy, but France and the United Kingdom possess two seats on the Security Council. Germany and Japan, as one of the top five-economies in the world, also have an eye on such a seat, but find a closed door. Two continents, Latin America and Africa, do not even ‘football’ together in international politics.”

It’s difficult to cheat in football, but in international politics you can easily bend the rules:

“You call the opponent an illegal combatant and can whizz through the Geneva Conventions. You participate in a ‘stabilisation mission’ in Afghanistan and then suddenly it’s not called war any more. You buy weapons abroad and win a war with them. You commit an attack based on two hundred thousand dollars on the Twin Towers and the opponent, with a defence budget a million times as big, stands powerless. You can even hire foreign fighters at military job agencies, who are not called ‘soldiers’ and [therefore] outside the victim statistics when they are killed. In this way you can keep the opponent’s goals away from the news, ‘maintain the null’, something that football really has not yet invented. Football is war, but war is not football.”


No comments: