Alex Hilton: Politicians can fix football crisis

Even the most experienced politicians seem to lose their sense of perspective during the World Cup.

Alex Hilton
Alex Hilton
This tournament has seen Nicolas Sarkozy despatching his sports minister to give the French team a tongue-lashing and Angela Merkel rushing to South Africa to distract from her political woes in Germany. David Cameron has ensured that everyone knows he had his head in his hands during the 4-1 defeat by Germany.

Sometimes politicians are so desperate to be ‘of the people’ they forget to be authentic. They seem to be in a panic that they’re not the centre of attention, so jump at any excuse to elbow their way into the limelight.

Cameron, when asked about England’s worst defeat in a World Cup match, referred to the result as ‘disappointing’. An authentic response given his background, although if he wanted to be a man of the people, the appropriate response would have been a half-hour rant about goal-line technology, the relative merits of player formations and the prospect that our players get paid too much.

It’s fear that makes them do it. Deep down, all these politicians know they’re not real, three-dimensional people and they’re scared to be found out. They’re worried people might realise they don’t know anything about football. But they needn’t be fearful. Very few politicians know much about health, education or defence, but they all have a go at trying to fix the problems. Politicians aren’t elected to have expertise; they’re elected to have good judgement as problem-solvers. And English football has its problems, so politicians can reasonably be asked to think about how to solve them.

A select committee investigation into England’s chronic underperformance, together with recommendations, actually couldn’t do any harm to our European Championship chances in 2012.

And if FIFA president Sepp Blatter complains about ‘political interference’ in the game, then Cameron should just ask him which 60 million people Blatter was elected to represent.

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