FA Cup compromised for photo op
Soccer fans in Australia as well as Britain have been dismayed by the news that Manchester United, current holder of the prestigious FA Cup, will not be taking part in the next season's competition. Instead, United will be off to Rio to be part of the doubtlessly lucrative "world club" competition to be staged there. United's directors have demonstrated before that they cannot see past the end of their cheque-books. Not long ago they voted to sell out to Rupert Murdoch, but Britain's Monopolies Commission vetoed the move. However, Andrew Murray in the British socialist daily Morning Star, says "the larger reason [for choosing the Rio competition instead of the FA Cup] is clearly politics. The pressure to drop everything and run to Rio came from the government, above all." The Blair Government, says Andrew Murray, "sees United's participation in the new tournament — about which most fans know little and care less — as a boost to England's chances of hosting the World Cup in 2006". Most football fans don't really give a hoot where the World Cup tournament is played. After all, they can only watch it on television, wherever it is staged. The only people to whom its location really matters, observes Andrew Murray are "the government and business: ministers can preen before a worldwide audience of billions and bask in the reflection of whatever glory there is around, while the sponsorship and commercial opportunities will have many companies drooling. "So really, the FA Cup's integrity has been sacrificed to give the Prime Minister the chance of a super photo opportunity in 2006."