Freedom of speech is one of the most essential tenets of democracy and something we often take for granted in the Western world, but you have to sometimes wonder what newspaper editors are thinking when they allow certain stories to emerge.
England’s 2018 World Cup bid, which had been going so smoothly that the bookmakers made them 10/11 to host the event in eight years’ time, has suddenly been thrown into turmoil by revelations in tawdry Tory tabloid The Mail On Sunday. In today’s rag, the chairman of the Football Association, Lord Triesman, has been caught claiming that the Spanish FA have struck a deal with Russia to bribe referees in their favour at next month’s World Cup, in exchange for their support for Russia’s bid to host the 2018 tournament.
There’s no doubt that this is a big story and Lord Triesman, who allegedly also had an extra-marital affair with the shameless undercover reporter in question, appears to have been caught with his trousers down in more ways than one. Indeed, as I write he has stepped down from England’s 2018 World Cup bid committee. But why on earth has the paper decided to run a story which will seriously compromise England’s chances of hosting an event that will bring in an estimated £3bn to the UK economy?
As a journalist I know all too well how much the newspaper industry is struggling at the moment, and a scoop of this magnitude will certainly help boost readership in the short term. But what about the long term? What about the bid?
You could argue that it is a newspaper’s duty to report the facts and not allow outside influences to dictate editorial decision-making. But that doesn’t really wash here – as Triesman has effectively been stitched up in another sleazy honey trap. He made these comments in a taped conversation with his former aide and alleged lover two weeks’ ago and so the paper has waited until the very weekend England, represented by David Beckham, is formally presenting their bid in South Africa to wreak maximum havoc on the World Cup bid.
This, by the way, is a jingoistic, right-wing paper which will doubtless be throwing their weight behind England to win the tournament in South Africa next month and will doubtless blame the naive Triesman if the 2018 bid goes pear-shaped. What is it with the UK press and its unquenchable short-sighted desire to bring its own down at all costs? Never in a million years would you see an Italian, French, Spanish and certainly not a Russian newspaper publishing a story that could be so harmful to its own national game.
It’s no great surprise that The Mail On Sunday is at the heart of this latest contribution to outstanding journalism, which has seen England’s World Cup bid odds pushed out to 5/4. All I can say is, shame on this (toilet) paper and if you haven’t had the good sense to do already, avoid this miserable publication like the plague.