The Guardian August 4, 1999


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."

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