When UEFA supremo Michel Platini visited Ukraine’s capital Kyiv to check on the final touches made in the overall infrastructure connected with the forthcoming EURO 2012, he was faced with a group of shapely topless lasses outside NSK Olimpiyskiy Stadium carrying placards in English, Ukrainian and Russian against prostitution. Members of the feminist group ‘Femen’ claim that UEFA is trying to influence the Ukrainian government to legalise prostitution during the European Championships in June and July 2012. They feel that if this happens, “they will be turning Ukraine into a brothel”. Their well-planned protest did not last long as they were whisked away by police officers, but not before dozens of media photographers had clicked their cameras. It was all pre-arranged; the girls made a lovely sight and Femen’s message was relayed around the world.
To show their determination they also created their own mascots, Blyadek and Blyadko, “who love sex, football and beer”.
They have prepared a few other protests in different European cities.
The irony is that in Poland where prostitution is legal, unofficial reports state that there are about a thousand sex workers from Ukraine and Belarus!
International football tournaments, ranging from World Cup editions to European Championships like Euro 2012, are not immune to this phenomenon. One recalls the furore created during the Mundial 2006 in Germany and the last edition staged in South Africa. Mention was made that 40,000 prostitutes would invade Germany during the World Cup whereas in South Africa emphasis was made not only on visitors from poor areas from Zimbabwe but also from Hong Kong, India, China and Venezuela.
Apparently, both in Germany where prostitution is legal and in South Africa, the invading sex workers were somewhat disappointed.
Oligarchs, sheikhs and mega rich Americans
Legal or illegal prostitution during international tournaments is not the main threat to football. Violence and illegal betting are certainly more serious. However, there is yet another aspect that is mind-boggling and is worrying soccer’s hierarchy. If the game falls totally into the hands of mega rich sheikhs, oligarchs, Asian and American tycoons, then it may be revolutionised and not necessarily for the better. The rumours reverberating in the echelons of power of England’s Premier League are worrying.
A number of foreign owners are thinking of ways and means to protect their investments. There are quite a number of foreign owners of Premier League clubs that include Stan Kroenke, who is the majority shareholder of Arsenal, and club owners like Randy Lerner of Aston Villa, the Rao family of Blackburn, Roman Abramovic of Chelsea, Mohammed Al-Fayed of Fulham, John W. Henry of Liverpool, Sheikh Mansour of Man City, the Glazer family of Man Utd, Tony Fernandes of QPR and Ellis Short of Sunderland. They have allegedly come up with the idea of deleting ‘relegation’ from the competition rules.
According to members of the League Managers Association, several American and Asian owners of top-flight sides were keen on a franchising model. If there are a few more foreign investors they may have enough votes to force changes! There are 10 already and they only need four more! In my opinion, football will suffer if that decision is ever reached. A prominent manager said that if that happens, football as we know it will be destroyed.
Many of the mega rich who are getting involved in European football treat clubs like toys.
Prostitution is the world’s oldest profession and those who sell their body do not need football tournaments to do so but when it comes to investors trying to change the traditional game that is dangerous.
Mr Formosa is a former
national football coach