Never Diet

Now I know what you’re thinking; this is nought but click-bait, another way of promoting this fitness plan or that supplement in lieu of healthy self-control and restraint. The fitness industry, whilst it does have its shining lights, is by and large a festering pit of self-promotion and money making schemes designed to feed off your general idiocy caused by the mass promotion of fallacious misinformation put out by that same industry.

But do no fear, cherished reader, for I am not a part of the dark side of the fitness world. And that is why when I title this ‘Never Diet’ that is because that is actually what I’m recommending. No, there is no miracle alternative, no supplement or detox pill. This is based on a very simple and effective mantra that, when followed, will pretty much guarantee good fitness for the duration.

‘The best diet/fitness plan is the one you will keep doing.’

This is a widely held belief from those who are genuine in the fitness industry but for me, whilst it is absolutely true, it is based upon something that is rather false. The problem with diets and fitness plans is that they are inherently temporary. They are there so that an individual can reach their optimum or desired weight or fitness and at that point they tend to drop off and relapse into previous bad habits, believing that now they essentially have a ‘cushion’. Now I know what you’re thinking; this is my lifestyle, there’s no chance of that. Of course this isn’t an absolute and there will be exceptions to the rule but the majority of people who are pursuing a new healthy living lifestyle are casuals. They are not aspiring to make terrific gains, look like a bodybuilder or never enjoy food again. They are people who want maximum results for minimum effort and sacrifice. It might seem a harsh notion but it is actually purely economic; the best practice is the one that gains the most from the least. The problem is for these people that this is less of a lifestyle shift and more of a trend; mostly based in vanity and personal egotism it often has little to do with the noble and ancient pursuit of good health and fitness. The main reason the casual tends to relapse? They aren’t fully committed. We know it, it’s nothing to feel bad about; you want a life outside of this. But dieting creates a permanent state of ‘wanting’ within the temporary diet and as such when the end point is reached the one desire, for better health and fitness, is now satiated whilst the second, for unhealthy foods and routines is left starved. The motivation from the start is based in ‘wanting’ and as such it inevitably ends at the same point.

Quick Fixes and Necessity

The final point I shall make is the problem with dieting in the 21st century cesspit of health and fitness. Everything has a quick fix, a four week plan. Want to lose belly fat? We’ve got a pill for you! Want to boost muscle growth? You need a supplement.
Of course you don’t need these things; these are specialist products which are by and bulk utterly facetious. The few out there that are genuinely good or useful are not needed by the majority of people but by the few who are pursuing this day in day out ad infinitum, usually professionals or people who have gained employment within the industry. The same is true of dieting; by and large it’s unnecessary for the majority of people and as always there are no long term quick fixes for your health and for general good fitness. It’s more than a marathon; it’s a slog. Most people think of it as the quick smash Six Day War when in reality it’s more like the never ending battle between Rome and Parthia. Again the best approach is the one you will keep doing; not for one month or one year but one you could see yourself doing, and doing happily, forever.

Now after all this you’re probably thinking ‘that’s all well and good but what should I do then?’ And it’s a worthy question but one you didn’t need to ask. Because of course, as always dear reader, you know the answer. Stop doubting yourself; stop questioning your own intelligence and stop paying attention to all that contrarian fitness advice from experts who got their qualifications from the school of the Quick Google Search.
The only solution, the only real strategy, is to eat healthy food, frequent exercise and diversification of both. That’s it. No, don’t think like that. You know what healthy foods are and you know what unhealthy foods are. Lean meats, fish and vegetables. Potatoes, rice, pasta is all good in moderation. In fact mostly everything is good in moderation. Don’t eat too much; you know what too much is. Go running frequently; it’s good to see the world, get fresh air in your lungs and it’s good for your heart and stamina as well. Do calisthenics; in layman’s that’s exercise without machines. You probably don’t need them if you’re just trying to get yourself into general good fitness. Stretch more. Commit the amount of time to this you feel comfortable; anymore and you probably won’t stick to it for that long.

 

I know this all sounds patronising and ridiculously simple but that’s because when you get right down it health and fitness is less about protein shakes, calorie intake and complex fitness plans but more about covering your basics. The rest? You build on it from this solid base if you really feel like it. Don’t buy into the marketing, the quick fixes and the 4 week miracle diet. It’s mostly malarkey and at the very least it’s only a short term solution. You wouldn’t build a house without laying the foundations first; do no approach your health any differently.

Advertisements

Stop Taking Pictures of Your Damn Smoothies

blueberry-mango-carrot-smoothieJust stop it. Stop pretending you are actually ‘Totally loving this new kale, wheatgrass and Syrian refugee tears smoothie!’ You’re not.  You hate it and you hate yourself. You hate everyone else who’s posting this stuff too. It tastes like arse. It looks like a 70 year old vegan named Cyril threw up in a glass and farted on it for good measure.

Stop taking pictures of yourself at the gym and stop the candid shots of your Sunday morning runs as well. This is painful. You don’t live in California no matter how much you wish you did.

friends-skipped-bonding-over-brunch-chose-morning-runI don’t know how you’ve all done this but you’ve managed to take the noble and pure pursuit of health and fitness and turn it into your own personal vanity kick. It’s become an echo chamber of people with poor self esteem looking for self approval from people they hate or don’t care about. The only reason your doing this is because it’s currently popular with the social media generation and will get likes. The worst part is that whenever you see other people sharing these photos, even though you ‘like’ them the only thing going through your head is how much of a tool you think they areEveryone who sees your photos is thinking the exact same thing as you do when you see their photos.

But deep down you know this. You know how everyone, even people involved in this, hate it. You know that social media is a festering pit of vanity, narcissism, petty jealousy and low cunning. It’s a clique of American High School girls from all those rubbish films and shows who all hate each other and are in a never ending competition with one and other. You are part of that clique. You are actively participating. But you ignore it. You pretend you’re not a hypocrite. You tell yourself that you really are in this for the health and fitness benefits and it’s everyone else who is being shallow. Of course it’s all a lie, because every time you share a picture and it doesn’t get the requisite number of likes a pit opens in your stomach and you feel like it was all for nothing. And then you see that your friend, who you hate as well, called Olivia shared a picture of her organic, free range, vintage Herbalife InstaFitShake and got 37 likes on it. You look at the picture. How was it different to mine? Maybe it was the caption? Maybe it was the filter?  What time did she upload it? Is that a rustic oak table that glass is on? Maybe she’s just prettier than me. You base your next picture around the one she did in the hope your likes will go up.

Stock Photo by Sean Locke www.digitalplanetdesign.comSee as much as you won’t admit it this all has nothing to do with you suddenly developing a deep interest in your own health and fitness. Frankly if it was you’d be going about the whole thing completely different. This is a modern fad and one that’s very popular. It’s the one the ‘in’ people are doing and you always wanted to be one of them. You’re in your 20’s now and you still have the mentality of a high schooler. This has less to do with you wanting to feel better and more to do with you wanting to look better.

You see it’s completely empty. If this was only about fitness why would you post the whole thing onto facebook and instagram? Why did you feel the need to let everyone know you had poached eggs and avocado for breakfast? You people think you invented avocados. The avocado will be outlive all of us. 

Michelangelo_Caravaggio_facebook2-495x600The fact is if you wanted to just be healthy and fit you wouldn’t try and take any shortcuts. These supplements, detox pills and 4 week fitness plans? 95% malarkey designed to take your money. You know it too, just like you know those pop up ads telling you that you can make $2437 a day is bull. You know you can’t trick the body into good health. You know the only real long term solution is a balanced, healthy diet and frequent exercise. But this isn’t about genuine results. It’s about looking the part. It’s about your self esteem, which has already been hollowed out by your unhealthy obsession with social media. And now of course you’re trying to claw it all back from the very same thing.

This is the biggest irony, because this behaviour isn’t healthy at all. Your pursuit of health of the body has led to a deterioration of the health of the mind and the health of your own self perception. Your building the new foundations for your self esteem on quick sand and as the weight piles on you will inevitably only sink deeper.

By all means, try and become healthier and fitter, but please – for the love of god – stop posting pictures of your damn smoothies.

Stop Taking Pictures of Your Fucking Smoothies

blueberry-mango-carrot-smoothieJust stop it. Stop pretending you are actually ‘Totally loving this new kale, wheatgrass and Syrian refugee tears smoothie!’ You’re not.  You hate it and you hate yourself. You hate everyone else who’s posting this shit too. It tastes like arse. It looks like a 70 year old vegan named Cyril threw up in a glass and farted on it for good measure.

Stop taking pictures of yourself at the gym and stop the candid shots of your Sunday morning runs as well. This is painful. You don’t live in California no matter how much you wish you did.

friends-skipped-bonding-over-brunch-chose-morning-runI don’t know how you’ve all done this but you’ve managed to take the noble and pure pursuit of health and fitness and turn it into your own personal vanity kick. It’s become a mass circle jerk of people with poor self esteem looking for self approval from people they hate or don’t care about. The only reason your doing this is because this shit is currently popular with the social media generation and will get you likes. The worst part is that whenever you see other people sharing these photos, even though you ‘like’ them the only thing going through your head is the word ‘cunt’. Everyone who sees your photos is thinking the exact same thing as you do when you see their photos. They think you’re a fucking ball bag and those 18 likes you got aren’t convincing anyone.

But deep down you know this. You know how everyone, even people involved in this, hate it. You know that social media is a festering pit of vanity, narcissism, petty jealousy and low cunning. It’s a clique of American High School bitches from all those shit films and shows who all hate each other and are in a never ending competition with one and other. You are part of that clique. You are actively participating. You’re some bitch named Melody or something else stupid. But you ignore it. You pretend you’re not a total hypocrite. You tell yourself that you really are in this for the health and fitness benefits and it’s everyone else who are the shallow tools. You unique fucking snowflake, you. Of course you’re lying and you know you are, because every time you share a picture and it doesn’t get the requisite number of likes a pit opens in your stomach and you feel like it was all for nothing. And then you see that your friend, who you hate as well, called Olivia shared a picture of her organic, free range, vintage Herbalife InstaFitShake and got 37 likes on it. You look at the picture. How was it different to mine? Maybe it was the caption? Maybe it was the filter?  What time did she upload it? Is that a rustic oak table that glass is on? Maybe she’s just prettier than me. You base your next picture around the one she did in the hope your likes will go up. You conclude that it’s just because more people wanted to fuck her and that’s why she got more likes. That bitch. Why don’t more people want to fuck me. My future pictures need more cleavage. 

Stock Photo by Sean Locke www.digitalplanetdesign.comSee as much as you won’t admit it this all has nothing to do with you suddenly developing a deep interest in your own health and fitness. Frankly if it was you’d be going about the whole thing completely different. This is a modern fad and one that’s very popular. It’s the one the ‘in’ people are doing and you always wanted to be one of them. You’re in your 20’s now and you still have the mentality of a fucking high schooler. This has less to do with you wanting to feel better and more to do with you wanting to look better.

You see it’s completely empty. If this was only about fitness why would you post the whole thing onto facebook and instagram? Why did you feel the need to let everyone know you had poached eggs and avocado for breakfast? You people think you fucking invented avocados. The avocado will be here long after you’re dead. 

Michelangelo_Caravaggio_facebook2-495x600The fact is if you wanted to just be healthy and fit you wouldn’t try and take any shortcuts. These supplements, detox pills and 4 week fitness plans? 95% bullshit designed to take your money. You know it too, just like you know those pop up ads telling you that you can make $2437 a day is bullshit. You know you can’t trick the body into good health. You know the only real long term solution is a balanced, healthy diet and frequent exercise. But this isn’t about genuine results. It’s about looking the part. It’s about your self esteem, which has already been hollowed out by your unhealthy obsession with social media. And now of course you’re trying to claw it all back from the very same thing.

This is the biggest irony, because this behaviour isn’t healthy at all. Your pursuit of health of the body has led to a deterioration of the health of the mind and the health of your own self perception. Your building the new foundations for your self esteem on quick sand and as the weight piles on you will inevitably only sink deeper.

By all means, try and become healthier and fitter, but please – for the love of god – stop posting pictures of your fucking smoothies.

The Fate of FIFA: The 2016 Presidential Elections and Beyond

FIFA candidFinally after months of departing President Sepp Blatter digging in his heels and refusing to go FIFA is finally on the cusp of a new election. No, the actual election itself takes place in February, but the candidates themselves are now settled and because of this I can predict with near certainty exactly how this will all play-out. How you ask? No, I can’t predict the future, but as Battlestar Galactica keeps telling me all of this has happened before and all of this will happen again and this is so in the case of FIFA.

So sit back and relax as I guide you through the next 4 months in the build up to the election with a play by play of (almost) exactly how this will all go down.

The Opening Salvo

Musa-BilityWith corruption the keyword every candidate has stood on a platform of reform, transparency and cleaning up the organisation. It’s a lot of words with no real guarantee it will pan out. All of the candidates too have sketchy pasts; either being a vital cog in the previous corrupt FIFA machine or having questionable backgrounds themselves. Sheikh Salman Bin Ebrahim al-Khalifa, the Bahraini President of the AFC has already had to defend himself against claims he was complicit in the torture of players from his own association.
Musa Bility, the Liberian FA President will have to defend his 6 month ban from football in 2013 for the misuse of confidential documents. He will be tarred with the same corruption brush as the rest and what with his background in African business his reputation will be tarnished. He doesn’t have the support of the CAF though so he never really had a chance. So Bility will have dropped out within the first 2 months if he’s smart. Jerome Champagne the former advisor to Blatter will endure similar taunts and what with a lack of support in UEFA he too will be gone or assigned to irrelevancy before the votes are even cast. Tokyo Sexwale will receive accusations too of corruption, through association with the horrendously corrupt Zuma regime in South Africa, He will blather something about how he was best mates with Mandela and CAF will rally behind him as he is already their chosen candidate.champagne
GIanni Infantino and Prince Ali bin al-Hussein will squabble over who will take the lions share of the UEFA vote as Champagne cries into his glass of – yep you guessed it. Prince Ali will wax lyrical about how he was the only one to oppose Blatter whilst Infantino will play the Marco Rubio card; “Look at me, I’m young, I’m fresh and you all like me from my master of ceremonies gig, right?”
Platini at this point is still banned and not able to get involved but I doubt he will go quietly.

 

Things Heat Up

1987576_w1With the opening shots cast the candidates, now down to 4 real options (Bility, Champagne and Platini all down and just about out), begin to try and curry the votes together. Sexwale has the 54 votes of CAF and Sheikh Salman has the 46 of AFC mostly tied up. Prince Ali and Infantino are still trying to win over the whole of UEFA but UEFA by this point has realised neither of them will win and is now considering Sheikh Salman as a serious option. After all, compared to the rest he is a moderate. Sexwale will appeal to CONMEBOL as a developing continent but they’ll put their eggs in Salman’s basket. CONMEBOL already lacks voting power, with just 10 votes, but they have real footballing power and CAF are their only challengers to the second seat in world football. Prince-Ali-Bin-Al-HusseinThey wouldn’t want a CAF President in charge of FIFA, so they too go to the moderate option. OFC has a tendency to side with the AFC as they are heavily linked so Salman can probably count on their 11 votes too. CONCACAF is likely to side with Sexwale due to their development agenda being largely in line with his.

Sexwale will hark on about something to do with historical and cultural ties. USA sighs as it realise’s its one vote isn’t going to make much of a difference. Platini is pretty much irrelevant at this stage, as like Blatter he was irredeemable from the successive hits his reputation took. Even if he has not been formally indicted or charged, there is no way in hell he has a way back into this race.

The Vote

South African businessman and possible pPrince Ali and Infantino are still in the race and UEFA casts their votes in their camps with Infantino edging it. Either way they get no support from the rest of the world, barring USA and maybe Canada voting for their man Prince Ali. Salman gets 75 votes as the AFC, CONMEBOL and OFC comes in swinging whilst a smattering of UEFA associations break ranks early. Sexwale pulls in a strong 85 votes with the sheer size of CAF and CONCACAF coming in big. Prince Ali and Infantino split the 53 votes of UEFA with Ali pulling 20 and Infantino 25. Both realise it’s over and drop out of the running. But the voting must go to an absolute majority of 139 so a second round commences. UEFA breaks and votes for Salman in strength and bolsters him by 53 to 128. A few rogue votes here and there go amiss but Sexwale was unable to pull his rivals to him and drops to an 81. Now let’s remember; their are 209 associations and you need an a simple majority of 105 to win. So Sheikh Salman wins. Queue thunderous applause and worried expressions from America. Prince Ali makes some indignant comment about how FIFA is still right up shit-creek. Infantino goes with a little more grace, under the hope he can still get position in the UEFA elections in March. Sexwale is left wondering whether or not it was his ridiculous last name that cost him the job.

Normal Service Resumed in Zurich

But what next for the beleaguered governing body? This is perhaps the most important thing. Here’s what will happen; nothing. No, I’m not being a pessimist. Earlier I said Sheikh Salman was a moderate and that’s because he stands for nothing in particular. Sexwale stands for the FIFA development agenda, much like Blatter and Havelange before him. Prince Ali stands for America’s interests in reforming FIFA. Infantino is a self serving politicrat who may have at least tried to reform. Platini was always just Blatter junior. Champagne was utterly, utterly irrelevant. As was Musa Bility who never stood a chance and thank god for that. Sheikh Salman on the other hand? He simply crossed enough borders as the man who wasn’t outwardly corrupt, was not heavily linked with corruption and was a fairly decent diplomatic figure. He was the moderate; he didn’t bow down to the lesser associations on the development agenda, but as a representative of them he still won their support. He didn’t dismiss the power bases of Football either, and won UEFA’s support as the least Blatter-like between him and Sexwale.0_14459208304528790102_news

But he was on the committee who decided that Russia 2018 and Qatar 2022 will go ahead, so you can be damned sure his first action as President will not be to take that away, which was essentially what all this corruption business was about. So whilst the big beasts of FIFA corruption were hauled in front of the courts, the consequences of their corruption remains unchanged. Sheikh Salman introduces term limits to the Presidency though, for 3 terms or 15 years. But it means nothing; he knows he’ll see out all three terms as an incumbent FIFA President is almost impossible to depose barring federal investigations. Blatter lasted 17 years so we’re more or less going to see the same sort of semi-despotic regime return. Corruption at the small level will still exist as Sheikh Salman avoids ruffling too many feathers. A few Association Presidents are put on the chopping block but all the same infrastructure that meant that this corruption was inevitable is kept in place. Continental voting blocs, imbalanced voting and a lack of any real accountability to a judicial body is maintained. Ticket prices keep rising, so do player wages and agent interference and all the stuff the fans complain about in football. Maybe a bit of technology gets introduced along the way, but it was well overdue anyway. In 15 years we’re left wondering how the hell Sheikh Salman lasted so long as the Football Associations of the world prepare to vote in another politicrat to take charge of the greatest game on earth. It’s all happened before and it’s all happening again and the cycle will go on until someone realises to save FIFA it has to be destroyed.

Conclusion

This was FIFA’s chance for genuine reform, no doubt about it. But none of the candidates wanted genuine reform, after all they were all there because of the existing structures within FIFA in the first place. Sheikh Salman isn’t the worst option there, but nothing will change and corruption will still exist there, just in a decentralised way. Let’s give Blatter credit; everyone in FIFA was corrupt but they all had to go through him first. He organised it and restrained it do his own devices. A bit like Gaddafi in Libya. And like Gaddafi in Libya when the King is toppled so to do all the structures he kept to control the corruption. Infantino or Prince Ali were the best options of a bad bunch, but ultimately even they weren’t the candidates FIFA needed. This is yet another false dawn in FIFA’s history and whilst the opportunity was there to save FIFA that has now passed. A candidate did once exist to save FIFA, one with resolute principals, strong ideals and an iron will and determination to get things done. FIFA had it’s Stannis Baratheon and his name was Luis Figo. But even Figo realised it was all pointless and that he couldn’t save it.

So now we’re stuck with another fucking Lannister on the FIFA throne.

Cercei

10 Ways to Fix FIFA

294D1C5400000578-3107842-image-a-1_1433264606554The King is dead, long live the King. Sepp Blatter has, finally, gone. The allegations of corruption and wrongdoing have finally all got too much and he has resigned. International pressure from the FBI and the Swiss authorities have forced his hand. Now FIFA enters an election in which it can finally push the reform and change the organisation desperately needs.
This has all happened before with Joao Havelange and if anything things got worse after FIFA’s last prince of darkness left and died. FIFA needs to fundamentally change and reform if we are to prevent the kind of endemic and institutionalised corruption that we see in the organisation. But whilst everyone is saying this few are nailing there colours to the mast and suggesting any concrete changes. Here I will suggest how FIFA can move away from its corrupt past.

 

Limited Term Presidency

A two term limit is used for the American Presidency, such as with Barack Obama, pictured here with Sepp Blatter and Jack Warner

A two term limit is used for the American Presidency, such as with Barack Obama, pictured here with Sepp Blatter and Jack Warner

A big part of the problem within FIFA is that Presidential elections heavily favour the incumbent due to the influence of the Presidency, so in order to stop one man monopolising the organisation limiting the presidency to two terms would effectively make creating a monopoly impossible, especially as FIFA doesn’t have political parties. It would also lessen the motivation of members to curry favour and provide internal backhanders in terms of positions as all positions would be short term at best.

Limited Term Executive Committee Members

For those who don’t know the EXCO is the main executive branch of FIFA and where all the main decisions are made, such as voting for a World Cup. For the same reasons as limiting the Presidency, limiting how many terms an EXCO member can serve seems practical.

_83381731_qatar_gettyTransparent World Cup Bids

Votes on hosting rights to a World Cup is made open and a matter of public record. A cap should also be introduced into lobbying costs for any World Cup bid and all lobbying efforts must be accounted for and documented. This will prevent certain countries from effectively buying the right to host the World Cup.

Creation of an Independent Ethics Committee

Former Chairman of FIFA's Executive Committee Michael Garcia resigned when he realised the committee had no power to act.

Former Chairman of FIFA’s Executive Committee Michael Garcia resigned when he realised the committee had no power to act.

Perhaps the hardest to achieve but fundamentally necessary will be the creation of an independent ethics committee. The big issue with regulating FIFA and preventing corruption comes from a lack of accountability and the unwillingness of international authorities to get involved. We cannot always rely on the Americans to come in and save the day by pressurising the Swiss into an investigation. An independent committee, independent from any FIFA voting or political persuasion would have the power to investigate and dismiss any member of the EXCO or FIFA Congress found of wrongdoing. This would act as an effective judicial counterweight to FIFA’s Executive and Legislative arms and would finally restrain them.

2065795_full-lndWeighted Votes

Whilst this sounds completely undemocratic it is necessary within FIFA to have some votes in the Congress worth more than others. As it stands any individual seeking election need not appeal to footballs most important and consequential nations, but only to its smallest and poorest as they vastly outnumber the rest. This is a potent breeding ground for corruption and backhanders. As it stands the OFC, the Oceanic confederation whose highest ranked member is New Zealand at 144, has 11 votes and can outvote CONMEBOL with 10, the South American confederation whose members include Brazil, Argentina and Colombia. The fact that the OFC’s can outvote CONMEBOL when it has far less significance in the world of football is abhorrent. It will be difficult to calculate how the weight of the vote should be determined but strength of the league, teams and international importance and performance should all be taken into account. The power in FIFA needs to move back into the hands of those who matter the most in football, as harsh as it sounds, as they are who are most effected by FIFA’s decisions.

Open Books

FIFA’s internal ledgers must be made public, both contemporary and historic. This is the only way that the money can be tracked from how it fell into FIFA’s pockets, to who it goes to and to what they spend it on. Not only will this make corruption exceedingly difficult but it will also mean that should the independent ethics committee become compromised it will become easy for international monitors and agencies to step in.

FIFA Restored to a Non-Profit

Whilst FIFA is still technically a non-profit organisation it acts as a quasi-corporate body. Instead of profits it has reserves. It organises its events on the basis of how much money they can make. When FIFA speaks of expanding football and enhancing the game, it does so in the business speak of penetrating new world markets. With the opening of FIFA’s books to the public and the revision of FIFA’s statutes FIFA can be restored to a non-profit so that it’s decisions are not business based, but football based.

000_DV906926_0Removal of Conflicts of Interest

This seems an obvious one but yet in FIFA’s current incarnation conflicts of interest aren’t really a thing. An independent ethics committee must monitor and prevent any conflicts of interest from occurring. When such a conflict arises the conflictee must either abstain from whichever relevant vote or resign and in any instance must remove the conflict. The fact that Michel Platini can have his son appointed to Qatari sports company Burrda and then vote for Qatar for the World Cup is a conflict of interest, regardless of whether or not it affected his decision as he has stated it didn’t.

World Cup Bids Cannot be Changed Without a Re-voteqatar-world-cup-fifa-1

One of the most controversial points of the Qatar World Cup was that they bid for a summer tournament and are now switching it to a winter tournament, throwing many domestic competitions into disarray. World Cups must be bid for as is, with no changes in the fundamentals of the bid. Bid for summer, get summer. Can’t host in the summer? Relinquish your hosting duties or bid again for a winter tournament.

 

luis-figo-fifa_3266479Presidents Must Have a Manifesto

Luis Figo was particularly scathing of the last electoral process as he stated that their was never any discussion on the prospectus of each candidate, instead it was simply a vote for an individual. Not policies or ideas, just a validation of one mans claim to the throne. FIFA must change so that all candidates must propose a manifesto and that a vote for them is in fact mandate for this manifesto, not for their individual whims and desires. The manifesto and it’s policies must become the foundation of the President’s actions and an independent ethics committee must hold the President to what was promised in his manifesto and restrain him from big actions he did not declare. This is another effective way to limit the power of the President and to stop another Blatter-esque autocracy.

 

These are not the only solutions to FIFA’s problems but many of them are essentials that any new FIFA body must implement in order to prevent the mistakes of the past recurring. Whilst there are other solutions, such as making the FIFA Congress bicameral, reforming the EXCO voting process and other such solutions, ultimately the effectiveness of any changes are potentially null and void. Without an effective, neutral and independent ethics committee to judge, restrain and hold FIFA to account any changes are irrelevant. FIFA is a powerful body and all powerful governmental bodies worldwide have an equally powerful judicial body to keep it in check. This is the most important change FIFA must make and is definitely the hardest one to implement. Whether or not FIFA will truly reform and change is up in the air and depends mostly on who is elected as the next president. There are solutions however, practical, workable solutions that can make FIFA into the organisation we all want it to be. Whether or not whoever is elected to the role of FIFA President starts implementing these reforms will show us just how serious FIFA is about change.

The Day Football Stood Still

294D1D5C00000578-3107842-image-m-4_1433264772130Mark this day down in your calendar forever my fellow football lovers, this was the day everything changed. Recently re-elected and 17 year Presidential incumbent Sepp Blatter resigned today from the FIFA Presidency after the most controversial election in FIFA’s history. Claims of corruption and wrongdoing have marred FIFA for years but following the American FBI’s raids of CONCACAF offices in Miami and the arrest of high profile FIFA members in Switzerland these questions have intensified. Questions are still being asked and investigations are ongoing but with Blatter’s resignation a whole new wave of questions are being asked; Why now? Will he be arrested? What about Russia and Qatar? What happens now? And what’s next for FIFA?

 

Why Resign Now?294D1C5400000578-3107842-image-a-1_1433264606554

Just four days ago on Friday Sepp Blatter was triumphantly re-elected to the office of FIFA President. Queue thunderous applause from the well greased palms of FIFA officials. His speech was brazen and arrogant, he declared himself President of everybody and there was absolutely no resignation in his tone that said he knew his days were numbered. The next few days he responded well, he extended a hand towards UEFA saying how they all had to work together now and dismissed the investigations and turmoil FIFA faced as a western conspiracy from scorned British and American World Cup hopefuls. He even brought out his daughter, Corinne Blatter, to his defence in the media. These were not the actions of a man feeling the pressure, of someone who knows his time is up. This was the stubborn, dogged determination we’ve seen so often of Blatter. He’s developed something of a siege mentality and this was Blatter once more digging in for the defence, the Teflon-man simply willing to out-wait his detractors. But then suddenly, and to global shock, he resigns. The narrative of him standing for the election, winning with relative ease and then digging in immediately afterwards does not tell the story of a man who had planned to resign after his victory. Something has happened, something big. It’s going to be impossible to say what exactly it is but one must assume it is something legal. Blatter knew about opposition from UEFA and much of CONMEBOL, yet he went on. It was not internal politics. Blatter did not have a sudden change of heart, he was not struck by instant morality, he has none and never has. What has happened has occurred suddenly, likely today or the 1st of June and the only thing that is likely to put enough pressure on Blatter would be legal issues, likely related to either the FBI or the Swiss investigations. For those saying they predicted Blatter to go immediately – at the earliest even Blatter would have only known yesterday that he was to resign. What caused this was likely a revelation, either internal or external, that one of the investigations finally had something on Blatter and that his only option to de-escalate was to resign.

 

What Next for Blatter?294D2C7A00000578-3107842-image-a-16_1433266743254

First things first, Blatter has not resigned with immediate effect. He’s still here for a while yet. Due to FIFA red tape a new President cannot be elected for at least 4 months though official Domenico Scala has suggested that it could take anywhere from 7-11 months. The dust has yet to settle but either Blatter will remain directly as President or there will essentially be an interim President with the former more likely. During this time if Blatter is directly indicted by the FBI or the Swiss then of course any position he holds will become untenable and with the likelihood that what it is that has deposed him is legal then this is a very real possibility.

But either way after Blatter leaves FIFA for good the question is there to be asked what will happen to him. One thing is a guarantee; he will be dragged through the mud. He will be destroyed almost completely. Following Joao Havelange’s step down from the FIFA Presidency he was taken down from all sides, from his former FIFA allies, legally and in terms of his reputation. This is guaranteed to happen with Blatter. As the rats desert the sinking ship of FIFA many will jump towards the FBI and Swiss lifeboats.291CF1E300000578-3106656-image-a-8_1433232045760

Whether or not Blatter will be indicted, arrested or will ever see the inside of a prison cell is questionable. I have my doubts personally as we know his slippery history; Andrew Jennings has already speculated that Blatter may already be co-operating with the authorities. But one things for sure; Blatter will be destroyed by this, one way or another.

 

 

What Will Happen to the World Cups in Russia and Qatar?_83381731_qatar_getty

Easily the most contentious issue and the event which spurred Blatter’s eventual downfall was the World Cup bidding process for the 2018 and 2022 World Cups. This is the central issue for the Office of the Attorney General of Switzerland and what they are investigating and it’ll be high on the FBI’s list. Blatter was the main proponent of the World Cup in both Russia and Qatar and the bid was mired in controversy. Here I’m going to make two clear predictions, of which I am almost certain. Firstly the World Cup in Russia 2018 will go ahead. It’s too soon to change this one and people always underestimate the sheer scale of infrastructural developments needed to host a major sporting tournament. Even for a fully developed country like England or Germany, to organise the hosting of the tournament in such a short time is a bridge too far. We may have the stadiums but World Cups can run into the tens of billions of pounds in costs of which stadium construction and development is not the bulk. Even if Russia is found of wrongdoing it’s just not practical to switch hosts. My second prediction is that the World Cup in 2022 will not happen in Qatar. I’m almost going to guarantee this. The momentum is too great and ultimately it was the decision to award Qatar the World Cup, not Russia, that caused all of this to happen. For obvious legal reasons I’m not going to say that Qatar will definitely be found of wrongdoing and corruption in the bidding process, but what I will say is that it’s estimated that Qatar spent as much as £17.1 billion in lobbying for the World Cup. That’s Just the lobbying costs, not stadiums or infrastructure, just money spent on convincing people to vote for you. If this figure is accurate it will amount to a similar cost to the last two World Cups combined and we haven’t even factored in the hosting costs as yet. Whilst lobbying is not illegal it is in many ways unethical and the investigations and motions against Blatter will have been for nothing if the World Cup is not moved from Qatar. Even if the Qatari bid is found to have been squeaky clean, or made to look squeaky clean, I have no doubt that it will still be spun to have Qatar stripped of the World Cup. As said I have complete confidence that the World Cup in 2022 will not be in Qatar.

 

What next for FIFA?1387315-29742684-1600-900

Well for one thing the shredders in the Zurich headquarters will be busy this week. Corrupt officials far and wide will be covering themselves as much as possible, informing on their previous allies or furiously checking Wikipedia to find out which countries don’t extradite to the US. But in the immediate sense there will be an election and it is arguably the most important election in FIFA’s history. This election could see the biggest change in the organisation since Havelange seized the election from incumbent Stanley Rous and football moved from the beautiful game to the money game. Prince Ali bin Al Hussein has already announced his intention to run for the election after he picked up 73 votes in the first round on Friday, gaining key support from most of UEFA, CONMEBOL and a smattering of other rogue voters. David Ginola, backed by Paddy Power, has also declared his intention to stand. When Luis Figo withdrew from the election and in his statement said that “I would do it again. And I remain available to help FIFA rebuild after this.” so it can be assumed that he will be interested in trying again. Michael Van Praag could also declare again as he had a fair amount of support. Any number of unknowns could also declare themselves.

_83383744_platini_blatterOne individual who I would be deeply concerned about running is UEFA President Michel Platini. Whilst he was the first Confederation president to openly oppose Blatter he is also not much of a step up. Platini is part of the old guard, where corruption and degeneracy was an accepted part of FIFA politics. Many are championing him as the future of FIFA but people need to realise he played a big part in its dirty past. Platini supported Blatter for the bulk of his presidency and Blatter has been mired in corruption allegations since his first day in office. Platini voted for Qatar in 2022 after his son, Laurent, was given a job at a major Qatari sports firm Burrda. Of course Platini claimed this was unrelated and didn’t influence his decision. Platini isn’t part of the solution he’s part of the problem, an old guardsmen who should be included in the upheaval to come in FIFA.

luis-figo-fifa_3266479Of the other candidates I am deeply sceptical of Prince Ali of Jordan. No, it’s not because he’s Jordanian and I’m not grouping them with Qatar; everyone knows Jordan is practically a US satellite state. My opposition to Prince Ali is that he isn’t a football man, he’s a football politics man. These are the kind of people who have misdirected FIFA for years because these aren’t the people who understand just how much exactly this game means. They don’t think about football the sport, the passion, the beautiful game. They think about the football business. It is not a guarantee that Prince Ali will have the same kind of support as last time. The last election was a vote either for Blatter or against Blatter and Prince Ali was simply the ‘not-Blatter-candidate’. Now though there will be genuine choice in the election and voters will have to consider a full prospectus, rather than just who is and who isn’t Sepp Blatter. I have reservations over the admirable Van Praag for the same reasons. Ginola will never convince anyone he isn’t a joke candidate. That leaves Figo who is for me the best candidate. He’s a football man, not a business man. He knows the game, he knows what it means to peoples and nations, as well as clubs and fans. But he was about during the modern era of football so it’s not like the business and the money is lost on him. He stood for election as was so disgusted with the politics of it all he stood down and denounced the organisation. Of all the candidates likely to bring about the radical, top down reform needed to make FIFA about football again Luis Figo is the most likely to do so and I hope he stands. 

 

This could be the single most important moment in FIFA and football history. But we have seen this happen before with Havelange. This moment, this massive moment, could all go to waste if we don’t capitalise on Blatter’s resignation. A statement must be made; Qatar must be stripped of the World Cup to truly depart from the FIFA of old and its decisions. The authorities investigating FIFA must not rest on their laurels and must push even harder to root out every single corrupt official in the organisation. A genuine, hardline, radical reformer must be elected. We cannot simply vote in someone who will put a nice face of FIFA, will say all the right things but will not act to uproot the causes of this corruption in the institution. This is footballs moment to save itself and we cannot waste it.

Applying To Be An Adult

This is as close as I get to being an adult.

This is as close as I get to being an adult.

This morning whilst taking my entirely unceremonious wake up poop I had a moment of clarity; I am becoming an adult. What brought this about was that in my half awake state I had come up with a business idea. I won’t say what this idea is, because it’s brilliant and you’ll all steal it, but when thinking it through I started using business terminology and buzzwords, I considered where my revenue streams would be and concluded I’d be happy to sell my soul and pass on the personal data of the users of my business to unscrupulous advertising companies.

It hit me hard – I may be becoming an adult without having ever realised it. The other day I bought plates and napkins for when I go back home from university. I took time to buy these plates and I even thought about the aesthetics of the plates. I never considered for one moment that I had suddenly become a 30 year old middle class man flicking through the Argos catalogue in order to find the best dinner set to impress my guests, who I’m of course entertaining with a classy dinner party. I don’t know what wine I’ve bought, but it was expensive and I’ll wax lyrical about how it goes great with the roasted kale and lemon chicken I cooked. I’ll say things like don’t mind the mess, even though I spent the last 10 hours cleaning the entire house and airing my room out to remove the smell of lonely male shame.

I mean I haven’t gotten that far yet, but I’m probably supposed to right? I called my brother the other day to ask how he’s getting on and he had to go quickly because he was ‘entertaining’. He now watches Downton Abbey and his room smells like flowers. He’s getting married as well. This from the man who had his room painted blue because he’s a boy, who had adorned his window sill with his footballing trophies from his glory years and whose primary method of socialising was via Fifa and beer. This man, this macho-man who works in a gym, can down a pint in under 5 seconds and was, to me, always the pinnacle of masculinity has become thoroughly domesticated.

And then there’s me. Now I’ve always been an independent person; at home we buy our own food, cook our own meals, do our own washing, pay rent and in general just do our own thing. Our family is more like very good, well drilled house mates than a traditional household. When I came to University there was no difficult adjustment. I started budgeting immediately, doing regular shops and generally kept myself well ordered. This of course whilst my housemates were, quite literally, pissing up their own walls and buying £300 BB guns and then wondering why they couldn’t afford the rent. In my 3 years here I’ve probably phoned home no more than 15 times, despite being 250 miles away and having never gone back to visit apart from during the holidays. For me, being independent, responsible and mature was never hard. But being an adult? Now that’s something else entirely.

I’ve been looking at jobs, I know exactly what career path I want to go down, and I’ve considered whether or not I will move far away from home. America seems nice. So does Canada. Perhaps something simpler, like Hampshire. I’m fairly certain I don’t want to live in Horsham for the rest of my life, I have no desire to get stuck somewhere where I remember all the people from school. Don’t get me wrong, I still like these people and I’m always amazed at how much they’ve changed and progressed, but it feels to much like clinging to the past, like sticking to the old labels, like not getting on with life. I’ve come to Aberystwyth University and as far as an experience outside of my little southern suburban bubble goes I’ve loved every minute of it.

But what will it take for me to finally feel like an adult? Starting a career? Moving out? Moving far away and starting afresh? Getting married? Having children? Paying taxes? Dying?

Okay, so I know I’ve just listed the general milestones of life there but I can’t figure out when I’m supposed to feel grown up. All of the actual adults I know are all ‘adulty’. Everyone I know between 20 and 30 still feel like kids to me, imitating what they’ve seen on Netflix, following some general model of existence without having ever stopped to think about it.

It feels like American Football in the UK, of crowds chanting ‘defence! defence!’, screaming touchdown and generally acting all American. Its horrendously fake, like they’re merely imitating and pretending based on some generic baselines they’ve picked up from those two times they’ve watched the Super Bowl. It’s less sport and more just one massive performance, an insight into the British perception of American Football. But they consider themselves real players, real fans and feel some great synergy with their American counterparts, who if they ever witnessed this would almost feel insulted.

As Gary Neville would call it; A milky coffee.

As Gary Neville would call it; A milky coffee.

I have friends who are still in bands, still playing music at shitty local live venues and still believe they’re going to make it. I have friends who are still having the same petty arguments with all their other friends that they had in secondary school, who it seems have taken life lessons from Eastenders and Jeremy Kyle. I also have friends who drink fine wines in nice dresses and sports jackets whilst lunching and having dinners with their friends, who post pictures on InstaTwat of their Latte Macchiato’s, they’re Herbalife tea and their free range organic chicken breast roasted in the tears of Nepalese orphans. Hell they even voted for the Tories.

In all of this I can’t decide who seems more like the adults and more like the children. I can’t decide where I fit in it all and at this point I’d rather not fit in at all. Or is that too hipster? I don’t have a poo-beard and waxed moustache and I don’t care about music and foreign films or that latest vintage shop in Brighton that sells gluten free hats.

dinner-party

Dinner parties, or as I like to call them; ‘lets-all-pretend-we-don’t-hate-each-other’ gatherings.

I don’t want to engage in any of this. I don’t want the dinner parties and the fake courtesy and friendship, with everyone competing to have the best sofa and hiding their Lidl shopping bags. I don’t want to debate the merit of one-nation Conservatism and austerity over a bottle of wine. I don’t like wine. All wine tastes like my grandmother smells. But equally at this point I’m kind of over the whole ‘student-thing’. I don’t want to spend my weekends getting sloshed on Jagerbombs and slut dropping to music that makes my liver vibrate. I’m bored of spending my weekday evenings watching whatever shit series is available on Netflix. I want to do things. Anything. I don’t know what things. In fact I’d say no to most things. I’m bored and don’t know what I’m supposed to do next.

Maybe it’ll all just fall into place when I get the job I’m aiming for. Or maybe when I find a nice girl and get hitched. Or maybe it’ll happen when we’ve popped out a kid and I have to get my shit together. Or maybe It’ll happen after that kids all grown up and I don’t have to worry about it anymore. I’m pretty sure I’ll be retired by that point and my decrepit arthritic body will be only just about capable of lifting my Robinsons squash to my lips whilst I watch Antiques Roadshow.

I don’t think I’ll ever feel like an adult, I’m not sure I want to but I know I’m certainly done with the student life. Maybe I finally understand what Jamie Cullum was singing about in Twentysomething.

I’m not sure what kind of life I want to live, what kind of person I want to be and what kind of people I want to spend my life with. But like this recent election I know that none of the options seem appealing and I may just have to choose the lesser of a few evils. Or be mad, retain my hopeless idealism and vote for a third party, which in real life is the equivalent of starting a new band or joining a football team with the serious belief that you’ll go somewhere with it. Maybe I’ll never be an adult by my own weird standards, or maybe I already am one by other peoples. I know what I want to do with my life but I have no idea how I want to do it.

At least the plates I bought are nice.