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Saturday, 1 June, 2002, 08:16 GMT 09:16 UK
World Cup comments
The World Cup co-ordinating director, Peter Velappan, answers your questions and comments in our phone-in programme, Talking Point.
The 2002 World Cup has kicked off with a spectacular opening ceremony in the Korean city of Seoul.
The wait is over for the millions of expectant fans around the world who have been looking forward to a month of joy - or despair.
But the run-up to the tournament has been overshadowed by in-fighting, injury and organisational chaos.
Many fans had to travel to the tournament without tickets, after security measures delayed distribution.
And several countries - including Spain, England, and Mexico - will be missing key players because of injury.
Meanwhile, Fifa general secretary Michel Zen-Ruffinen is to step down from his post after losing a power struggle with re-elected president Sepp Blatter.
Zen-Ruffinen's accusations of financial mismanagement led to a criminal complaint against Blatter, which has also been dropped since his re-election.
What will this world cup be like? Who will be the winners and losers? What do you think of the Sepp Blatter controversy?
At the very start of the first game; France/Senegal, it looks like the African teams should look at the referees as an extra player for the other side. They tend to turn the other cheek when Africans are tackled hard and look for any opportunity to punish them. I bet you, by the end of the tournament, most African teams will play a man down or more. It is about time we give the African players their due respect.
Isaac Njijol, Atlanta, Ga.
I am not a football fan at all but I always look forward to the World Cup. It is a wonderful time where passion for football unites people all around the world. For one month, people from so many different nationalities all appear to speak the same language. There is no other event sporting or non-sporting that even comes close.
There is an article on this site discussing the US apathy with what is called soccer here. It misses a fundamental point: until recently soccer was not a sport that people played very much as children. Most American (US) male children in the past (and even today) have focused the greater part of their attention on baseball, basketball or US football - soccer was largely seen as a woman's sport, which is why the US women's team does fairly well ¿ participation provides a pool of players.
Speaking as someone who is male and not remotely interested in football (yes, we're a rare specimen but we do exist!) I've got to say that the World Cup is great! It brings us all together as a nation, and what with the Jubilee razzle at the same time, Britain is truly in party mood right now! I might even watch a few matches down the pub! Come on, England!
Tom Burrows, UK
The World Cup has had its wobbly moments this time but on the whole isn't it great so many nations are together to provide sport, excitement and fanfare? This is such a tonic after the awful events of the last few months.
Dare I say it - not too keen on footie really, so staying away from TV right now - and my partner (even less enthusiastic about the World Cup) has fled to Scotland. Why? Because the Mountain Biking World Cup Championships are being held there - it's a first for the UK - but no live TV coverage thus far. Has this event been "buried" by the World Cup? Hmmm ...
I am fed up of hearing about wars in Africa. and last night I was very happy when Senegal made it. It is a great day for Senegalese and Africans in general. Africans should form an alliance so that we will take the World Cup home. Take courage, we Africans will rally behind our continent.
I don't care who wins the World Cup because I have a life.
I think the winner will be Brazil or Italy. Unfortunately for African nations, I think they will need to wait 10 or 20 years to win the World Cup. I see an African nation winning it when they have a good national championship in their own country. Blatter's problems are something apart and I don't believe they really affect the game
Ian Lima Buckley, Brazil/Rio de Janeiro
What does it takes to have referees from Africa to represent their people? If countries from Africa are to take part in the World Cup, it is equally important to be fully represented by means of referees, linesmen, etc.
It's great to see an international event like this being held in Asia. Regardless of which country is the final cup winner, both Japan and South Korea have won much just by jointly holding the event.
Who cares who wins? The losers are those people who are not totally obsessed by football, as the media seems to assume everybody to be. We can't turn a corner without being bombarded by the stuff. Wake me up when it's finished!
Paul B, Oxfordshire, UK
So, if England do not do very well in this competition, will the media force Sven out of the job, like they have with some previous managers after losing streaks? This is even though he is the best manager we have had in a long time. It's time the media stopped getting control of our sport, as not only do they often dictate when a manager has to leave, but there are also matches being moved to suit the TV company schedules.
From all fans of American football. Thank you, World Cup, for providing us with first-rate quality matches in an awfully enjoyable sport while we wait for the NFL season to begin again!
...and good luck to the small countries!!!
Sepp Blatter has done well to promote world football. All this discussion is just another example of the way people always find something to complain about... just as they will when their own team loses in the Cup.
Like any other sports: the beauty of the sport vanished with all the scandals and the people who are only in the top positions just they like the feeling of being the most powerful man. So childish. And such a shame for the sport. But there still is something amazing about football. Look at the first match of the Cup. Senegal beating France. Fantastic. It shows that underdogs can be winners and that arrogance comes to fall down. And maybe some day this will happen in the top seats as well.
Loesje, Rotterdam, the Netherlands
Lets be fair, football is genius, and the World Cup is the epitome of this genius. Let's just sit back, realise I've finished my exams, and enjoy it.
The World Cup will be just like the last, and the one before that, and the one before that. I'm sure that once upon a time, footballers (like some other sportsmen) were honourable people who played for the love of the game and played to the rules. Now, some of the performances given by injured players make them eligible for Oscars, and all sense of fair play and sportsmanship have fallen by the wayside in a mad rush to attain victory, whatever the cost. I eagerly look forward to the likes of David Beckham being sent off again for losing his rag - just a real shame that Roy Keane isn't there to make up the petulant Man Utd contingent. Roll on 2003, and the Rugby World Cup. Decent sport at last.
Dan Halford, Auckland, New Zealand
On top of all the flag-waving hysteria over the Jubilee and the sordid media obsession with Big Brother, we also have to deal with now ceaseless football. I wish I'd booked to go away somewhere remote without a TV or any newspapers this weekend.
Sport is a good, healthy excuse to flag-wave. It is conflict in a constructive way that engages regional or national pride in an acceptable and healthy manner. I am not a football fanatic, I don't support a league side. However, the World Cup is different. It unites people in pubs, in the streets, in the workplace and beyond - people who wouldn't normally notice each other. I will never forget the excitement of the last World Cup, planning your working week and social life around the England games. The cheering, the lager!! I always love it.
Andy , UK
I was shocked at Blatter's re-election, but now I am getting scared: Fifa drops the accusations, Zen Ruffinen gets booted out... I find it all very dictatorial. The man has now virtually been given carte blanche to get away with anything.
What delicious irony that France's team of almost all non-Frenchmen has been beaten by a former colony, and in the opening match too. The French have been draining talent from these countries, bringing over hundreds of young hopefuls to training camps (paying them a pittance) and giving French nationality to the lucky few, while the rest get sent back home.
Football matches have been known to stop wars in the past. Maybe the world cup will stop the India-Pakistan conflict.
I suppose the only real saving grace is that, being on the other side of the world, those of us who actually couldn't care less who wins or loses can actually manage to miss as many games as possible. But no doubt normal television viewing schedules will be completely disrupted for repeats, "expert analysis" and suchlike. I can see Blockbuster Video doing a roaring trade over the next few weeks.
It has been a difficult year and sports, especially soccer, can play a role to heal or at least cool things down. Soccer is just an amazing sport and truly an all inclusive event. It is satisfying to see poor countries challenging rich countries in sports. How about Senegal defeating France?!
Predictions are always making fun of oneself. I would love to see a team from Africa or Asia win the trophy. Is that likely? No! Is it possible? Yes! It would be great to have an upset winner (preferably a country that has never won the cup) and I do not care where this winner comes from.
Never mind Blatter and co, the whole thing has been over publicised, over merchandised and is just downright overkill. It seems if you don't like football you might as well be walking round naked with a road sign coming out of your backside, with the reactions you get. I'll be interested to see how fanatical we all are when England are shown up for the weak side they actually are! Roll on next week!
Anonymous Bristol, UK
I couldn't agree more with my Anonymous cousin from Bristol. I am absolutely sick to death of hearing the media go on about how England can win the World Cup. They have no chance. They will probably get to the second round, but I am sure it will end there. I really feel sorry for the team. When they are put out of the competition the media will want a scapegoat, last time is was the unfortunate Beckham. Unusually, being a Scot, I actually like the England team. They have many capable players who are a treat to watch. But what I can't stand is the hooligan 'British Empire' contingent of their fan base, the relentless belief from the TV commentary teams that England will win whatever competion they enter, the whole media hype surrounding the team and the infuruating constant referral to 1966. That was almost forty years ago. Give it a rest and let the team play. Maybe then, the whole of the UK will get enjoyment.
If England want to win the World Cup they should drop Beckham, let Michael Owen be captain, and let him grow into the role. Beckham is a loser. Big on emotion. Big on PR. People forget he threw away the last World Cup because of his immaturity. His referee-threatening days with Roy Keane at Manchester United show he hasn't changed.
I am happy Blatter won. It is high time Africans understand basic issues in World soccer administration. On the issue of competence, for me, Hayaotu is not better than Blatter.
The only campaign against Blatter was for financial impropriety and to me he cannot take sole responsibility if it is proved. If there are procedural lapses in decision-making on Fifa finances, then the procedures and rules should be changed rather than bringing down the man.
I am not privy to the information which people are complaining about. There have been allegations but I have not seen any proof. Judging from the development of football in Trinidad and Tobago, I personally believe that Mr Blatter has performed admirably and deserves another term. I support his re-election.
Irvine Niffikeer, Trinidad and Tobago
From a pragmatic point of view, wily Blatter's policies actually help to keep football alive in otherwise struggling nations. He knows this, and that's precisely one of the reasons why he was re-elected with such a commanding majority. Many comments boil down to this being the end of the beautiful game. Will football collapse? No. Should Uefa secede? Yes, but it won't. It's not about the beauty of the game.
All is not lost if Uefa break away from Fifa and start a new world body to govern football. Leave Blatter and his cronies to rot in their own corruption.
Professional sport today is synonymous with show business, entertainment and politics. Blatter is far from being out of the woods as he will have to face criminal corruption charges in the Swiss courts. He part of a mass of so-called independent sports administrators who survive by political manoeuvres, glad handing and above all self-interest, cloaked in a veneer of selfless devotion to the cause of sport. Unfortunately, the vast sums of money now involved, mainly from TV rights and sponsorships, plus the power generated from sport-oriented associations and the structure of voting power between rich and poor nations mean that we are condemned to see many repeats of the Blatter fiasco. In this case, football is the loser.
Michael Green, Lausanne, Switzerland
Is it possible to get the list of countries who voted? For me that is the best starting point of the analysis.
Politics is about representing interests. It is normal, not shocking, if Africans elect a president who is going to promote the World Cup 2010 in Africa. Let's face it; your reactions would be different if Mr Blatter's aim was to promote the World Cup 2010 in the United Kingdom!
I agree it's a stitch-up, but I don't believe it will cripple football. The necessity of Fifa is very much overstated. People will carry on playing football at all levels quite nicely without a lot of pompous bureaucrats dishing out edicts. The Fifa World Cup Finals is a very new title for what used to be called The World Cup Finals. Lastly, how can they be running out of money in the richest game in the world? Because no one thinks they are worth it, that's why.
Chris Baldwin, Singapore
The message from Blatter's re-election: crime pays. The big spectacle sport world has long since stopped caring about details like fair play, rule of law and decisions based on merit and not kickbacks. Money has poisoned one sport after another. Blatter has done so well because he knows this.
Uefa should set up its own World Cup-style event by inviting Brazil, Argentina and some of the world's other best teams to take part.
Fifa, the Olympic Committee, the various boxing associations, are there any sport governing bodies that are not on the take?
An association for the BEST game in the world led by someone like that? So sad.
Whether or not Mr Blatter is indeed guilty of serious criminal misconduct there can be no doubt that something is seriously wrong within Fifa. When members are not permitted to speak out and internal investigations are shut down it looks terrible. Personally I can see Fifa collapsing around his ears as the debts cripple football worldwide. Thank you Mr Blatter for destroying our beautiful game.
Scott, Glasgow, UK
This is absolutely ridiculous. He shouldn't even have been allowed to stand for re-election. The Olympic movement seems to be cleaning up its act at long last. Maybe Fifa should learn from them.
Money and connections have regrettably become an integral part of football. I hope this will not continue for too long.
This is not really all that unbelievable when you look of the quality of the people who run sports governing bodies nowadays. Just look at the International Olympic Committee and all the scandals there. It is a mirror of our time - just look at our politicians.
This is a disaster for football. Blatter has been re-elected on the strength of his support in the developing world, where he is recognised as a man who actively pursues positive discrimination in trying to award the 2010 World Cup to Africa. Blatter is accused of all manner of corruption and my bet is that delegates from the developing world have benefited the most from his actions. Like politics, football in the developing world, especially in Africa, appears to be synonymous with corruption, self-enrichment and mutual back-scratching. It is shocking.
Ed, London, UK
I'm not impressed with comments that insinuate that developing countries are corrupt and voted for Blatter. I'd say people searched their conscience and decided to vote for somebody who has performed rather than vote for election period mudslingers.
Where were all Blatter's accusers when he was helping African football become what it is today? The World Cup is no longer just a European/South American jamboree but a true world event. It's a shame that several African countries backed Hayatou for the wrong reasons. I'm all for accountability in the sport but if Blatter were corrupt I'd prefer to hear it from an impartial jury during a non-election period. Otherwise we need comments that might help improve Fifa, not those that sound like attacks against a single person. If Fifa really needs reform those pushing for it have failed miserably
and need lessons in diplomacy. My advice is to learn from the political attacks on Bill Clinton in the US. They only served to divide the country bitterly and weaken the office.
Football is too important for Fifa to destroy by bitter wrangling.
Fifa is evidently a sham of an organisation rife with corruption. Unless the world either distances itself from it by creating an alternative and abandoning it or takes a hard look in order to effect reforms, it will be impossible for anyone to take it seriously. The Olympic Committee had the same problem and tried to deal with it. Ignoring it won't make it go away. Allowing corrupt people to profit with impunity only sets the stage for more corruption.
Well this is certainly a case of 'it's who you know, not what you know', if ever there was one. Absolutely shameful!
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