Photo of Antonio Gramsci

Antonio Gramsci:

Activist and thinker



Photo of Vladimir Ilyich Lenin

Vladimir Ilyich Lenin:

Class warrior



Portrait of Pierre de Coubertin

Pierre de Coubertin:

Class warrior










The things they say...

‘Neither FIFA nor its President have anything to hide, nor do they wish to.’

Blatter press release, 28 January, 2003

BBC Panorama Reporter Andy Davies:

‘A one million franc bribe … is it not correct that Mr Blatter asked that it be moved to the FIFA official who was named on the payment slip?’

FIFA Director of Communications Markus Siegler:

‘If you do not stop now, then we call the security and we put you out.’

FIFA Press conference, Zurich, Tuesday, 11 April 2006

‘I am deputy chairman of the finance committee of FIFA. I oversee a budget of US$2 billion and I have never seen one iota of corruption.’

Jack Warner, Trinidad Express 12 December 2004

‘Lying and deception and bad faith are standard operating procedure at FIFA.’

Adam C. Silverstein, a lawyer for MasterCard in their successful action against FIFA, New York, December 1, 2006

‘I do not believe a Jew can ever be a referee at that level (Argentine Premier League) because it’s hard work and, you know, Jews don’t like hard work.’

FIFA senior vice-president and chair of Finance Committee, Julio Grondona, 5 July 2003. Buenos Aires

‘FIFA is a healthy, clean and transparent organisation with nothing to hide. There is huge public interest in FIFA, therefore we have to be as transparent as possible. We will try to communicate in a more open way so the world can believe us and be proud of their federation.’

FIFA General Secretary Urs Linsi, January 2003, on


The Sniper's Guide to the Bird's Nest

By Andrew Jennings

CLICK in a bullet. Crosshairs. Down a bit, left a bit. A clear view of the stand of Honour. The Lords of the Rings and their Partners. Berlusconi and Bush, they’re for another time, concentrate on the officials who stole and sold our sports. And the businessmen who learned from Gramsci’s prison notebooks. Hey, this commie saw how to make business bigger. Look at the hegemony stuff. Smarter than Milton Friedman.


This press enclosure is perfect for an assassin. The reporters, who can’t see the needle tracks up the athletes’ limbs, don’t notice the nearly two-metre long machine in my hands. Neither do the blue-tracksuited thugs. They don’t expect trouble from this quarter of the stadium.


A test. Crosshairs on the artfully twisted metal above their heads.




A fragment of paint flies off. A Coca-Cola executive flicks his shoulder and looks upwards. A bird in the Bird’s Nest?


Somebody has to do this.


The sacred torch with its sacred flame came pounding down a long road from sacred Tibet. News can get delayed here in Beijing so we don’t know how many IOC members were mingling with the sacred crowds, immersed in the rapturous reception. But they will have, because their rules say they must.


Now it’s here! Heading for the sacred cauldron, above it the sacred flag and now we sing the sacred Olympic anthem . . . actually we just move our lips airlessly because we don’t know the sacred words. The programme for the Opening Ceremony says it was composed by somebody called Spiro Samara who died in 1917.


I don’t play the Coubertin game. Those who want, can visit the Boix-de-Vaux cemetery in Lausanne. But if you want to get to the heart of the matter, they ripped that out and buried it in Greece.


SWITZERLAND has an honourable tradition of offering refuge to exiles. Lenin and de Coubertin overlapped during World War One and you have to wonder if, stranded one chill winter night in a railway waiting room somewhere between Zurich and Geneva, they compared notes on building revolutionary organisations.


‘You are a bunch of aristocratic dinosaurs,’ sneered Vladimir Ilyich, ‘My revolutionary party will drag you to the guillotine.’


‘Mine will outlive yours,’ predicted the dapper Frenchman, twirling his splendid mustache, ‘We practice something called democratic centralism.’


‘Tell me more, Pierre,’ inquired Vladimir Ilyich, opening his ‘When I return to St Petersburg’ notebook.


‘We have a strong leader, a strict internal hierarchy and we vet new party members carefully. We appeal to the masses and command a compliant media.’


‘So sport will become the opium of the people,’ mused Vladimir Ilyich, scribbling furiously.


‘There will be a second world war, you will become a superpower and sport will be a weapon of your ascendancy.’


‘Why will you survive longer than the workers’ party?


‘We will employ Hill & Knowlton to write our press releases and the media will publish them in full.’  Continued...