Matthew Monk

Matthew Monk is a school teacher from the UK who has the World Cup as one of his greatest passions. He will share his views about the past, present and future of this event.

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Giant Lizards, International Bankers, The New World Order and Big Joâo: An Exposé

    It was an innocuous site for such an important meeting. Buried deep in the heart of the peaceful Swiss countryside lies a huge, ornate chateau. It is an exclusive place, twenty kilometres from the nearest town. Standing at the centre of 700 hectares of Swiss meadow, encompassed by thousands of birch trees and kilometres of three metre thick walls, it is the perfect place to do things in private. And privacy is what these men - and their lizard masters - wanted.

    Soon after Seven, on a warm spring morning the Hyundai cars started to roll down the impressively maintained main drive well out of the reach of any media presence. Such caution was hardly needed - this meeting was so secret that barely five people knew what was really going on. Was it an exclusive golf holiday, as it had said on the invitations, or was something else going on? Surely those guys in yellow uniforms couldn't be the caddies could they? Why were they carrying machine guns and what did that big J on their backs mean?

    After thirty minutes all the guests had arrived. Each car had carried one person only, all of whom had only received their invitations twenty-four hours before. They had all flown in aboard a fleet of Arabian registered jets, crewed by this same mysterious J-Force. Strangely all these armed men appeared to look the same - could they be clones? They were all tall and blonde, with the physiques of water polo players. They all spoke perfect Portuguese, Spanish, French, English and - strangely - Korean in the clipped tones of a Belgian-Brazilian. What was going on?

    One by one the guests were ushered individually into anterooms. No one was allowed to mix before the meeting started, and to ensure no one was tempted to investigate too closely, a member of J-Force and a small shifty looking Swiss man in an expensive suit (again all identical) were placed by every door. Silence reigned over the chateau until a whistle blew at exactly 8 am. It was a shrill blast, blown by a master whistler. Who could have done that so expertly wondered the assembled guests? They were quickly to find out.

    One by one the guests filed in to a large conference room. At the head of the table stood the Big Man. By his side stood a familiar bald figure, dressed in a yellow referee's costume, a whistle in his hand. Seated a little further to the left sat The Protégé, a colouring book and some nice crayons on the table in front of him. The Big Man looked on happily - but sternly - as the industrialists, bankers, TV moguls and power brokers made their way into the room.

    It was a veritable who's who of the Western capitalist system and military-industrial complex. For the first time the guests saw each other. The German TV magnate was sat next to the American diplomat. Across from them sat an Australian newspaper tycoon. Several merchant bankers sat dotted around the impressive oak table, representing all the major Wall Street financial houses. Mr T took his customary place opposite the Big Man at the far end of the table. Even Elvis had turned up.

    They all sat, and toyed with their adidas referee's pencils and black notebooks. The Protégé rose and asked if he could go to the toilet - the Big Man scowled, and started to speak.

    "Gentlemen," he started in a low booming tone. "I have brought you all here for one reason, and one reason only - we are going to finalise our plans for Operation Korea!" A huge cheer broke out - led as always by the elegant Frenchman who was practising free kicks in the corner. "On behalf of my nation" announced a certain Dr C, "I thank you - we will be happy World Champions."

    The Big Man looked on happily. His plan was now afoot. Korea, his first, true and only love would finally be rewarded. He stood to take the adulation of his people. Another cheer rose from around the polished table. Then the door opened again. In staggered a man even older than the Big Man. As he stumbled and fell towards the table the assembled Executives gasped. He stopped, and aided by Mr T, started to speak in his tough Glaswegian-New Zealand accent. "Ere, Joâo," he shouted, "when are all them lizards going to finish sewing together them footballs?" The Protégé looked on at peace with himself - it had been a hard task, and it had taken him the best years of his life to accomplish it, but finally, he had finished colouring in his house.

    Unfortunately for everyone in Poland, Portugal, Italy and Spain, this meting did not really take place. Now maybe FIFA does have a private army of Joâo clones dressed in Brasil shirts hidden away somewhere, but even I don't believe that they have set out to deliberately let Korea win the World Cup. FIFA is riddled with corruption, and the sleaze reaches out to infect all corners of the organisation, but the conspiracy theories being thought up all across the globe are far fetched even by the standards of the crazies thinking them up.

    I simply cannot believe that FIFA have sat down and deliberately encouraged countless match officials to cheat on behalf of Korea, regardless of whether they are co-hosting the tournament or not. Now I am not saying that people within FIFA would never think of doing this - they allowed 1978 to be bought after all - but before too many of you start believing what is being said, think a little bit about the accusations.

    First we are asked to believe that FIFA has chosen Korea to win the World Cup. Now that simply does not make any sense. Korea may be hosting this tournament, but it is hardly a country that sets the global agenda. If these results were happening in favour of the USA or China, then we could be getting somewhere, but Korea?

    Not only is Korea too small in global terms to fit this profile of FIFA favourite, they have been anything but helpful to FIFA over the years. FIFA - and Big Joâo in particular - wanted Japan to host this tournament single-handedly. Japan provides a number of FIFA sponsors - JVC, Canon, Xerox, Fuji Film, Dentsu - and also has one of the biggest TV markets in the world. It's national team wear adidas (another main FIFA sponsor) while Korea wear Nike. Of the two co-hosts FIFA would want Japan to win first, and Korea a distant second.

    On top of this we have to believe that FIFA have specially selected a group of totally corrupt match officials to take charge of Korean games only. And when these officials are not at Korea games they revert back to normal life. How are FIFA going to keep that secret? Unless you believe that they have cloned five sets of referees and assistants to replace the ones they have gotten rid of - obviously in some hideous way - then you have to accept that on match day the atmosphere has been too much for them, as has the pressure of officiating at the World Cup in front of billions of viewers. And they got things wrong.

    They have not set out to cheat, have no hidden agenda against teams that border the Mediterranean (unless of course Sepp got stung by a jellyfish while sunning himself in Benidorm, you never know?) and there is no conspiracy. Portugal peaked two years early, collapsed under the weight of expectation and were in big trouble long before the Korea game. Even admirers of Portugal like me have to admit that Finland demolished them in the spring, and unless that was a big conspiracy as well, the signs were all there to be seen.

    What about Italy and Spain, you say? They had perfectly legitimate goals disallowed against Korea. I concur, but they also missed chance after chance that would have killed Korea off. If there is a conspiracy then Vieri, Totti, Del Piero, Joaquin, Morientes and Hierro are in on it, how else can you explain their misses? I agree that Spain were the better team today, and that Korea were lucky to avoid a two or three goal defeat, and of course the goals should have stood, and the final penalty should have been taken again, but was all this decided before the match? Was the assistant told to disallow any goal scored by Spain in extra time? Was the referee told to let the Korean keeper advance off his line? Or were they mistakes?

    I feel sorry for any European team that goes out - yes even Italy - but Korea have just thrived on the atmosphere their fans have generated, and Guus Hiddink has turned them into a great team in next to no time. Individually Korea has no player to match Helguera, Raul, Vieri or Maldini, but as a team they can match almost any side in this tournament, at least for seventy minutes. Had Vieri or Morientes taken their chances no one would be talking about conspiracies now, and Korea would be out like Japan.

    Instead they have gone through to the semi finals, just like Chile and Sweden have done before them when hosting the tournament. Sweden even made the final - was that a conspiracy as well? FIFA do not help themselves, because they have allowed at least one World Cup to be bought already, but that was 1978 in a military dictatorship where opponents and whistle-blowers were assassinated. If there was a conspiracy in 2002 then surely some evidence would have slipped out to prove it. And no, the ropey decisions are not such proof. Conspiracies need organising, meetings have to be held, documents created. Without a paper trail there is no conspiracy. Nixon was caught out by it in 1973, and proof of Argentina's bribery has come to light since 1978. But unless someone comes up with something to show Korea has been aided illegally, we should all get on with the football.

Unless of course, FIFA has got to me...



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