Here’s a line Wayne Carey should have used on Enough Rope: “I might be a thug, an alcoholic and a coke-fiend but at least I’ve never organised Nazi org-es.”
After all, in that respect, he’s one up on Max Mosley, the president of the Federation Internationale de l’Automobile – and, as The Age explains, “the most powerful man in one of the most powerful sports”.
Mr Mosley, of course, recently starred in a remarkable home movie, in which he cracked a whip, barked orders in a Teutonic accent, and inspected prost-tutes dressed in stripy concentration camp uniforms for lice.
His onscreen proficiency in German (at one point, his unfortunate video companion complains: “I don’t know what you are saying, so I don’t know what to do”) becomes more piquant when we identify Mosley as the son of Sir Oswald Mosley and Diana Mitford, Britain’s two most famous Nazis. One of the guests at the Mosley-Mitford wedding was Adolf Hitler, a family friend. Diana Mitford kept a diamond-encrusted swastika until the day she died; Oswald Mosley rallied his sieg-heiling followers under the slogan: “The Yids, the Yids. We’ve got to get rid of the Yids!”
Well, we all have embarrassing relatives. But here’s the thing: before he made millions out of car racing, Max Mosley tried his hand at his father’s trade, playing an active role in his dad’s attempts to reconstitute the Union Movement as a post-war fascist party. In that respect, his s-x vid provides a fresh spin to the famous chant of the ’30s: “Mosley, Hitler, what are they for? Thuggery, buggery, hunger and war!”
The Mosley episode recalls the long-running controversy about Juan Antonio Samaranch, president of the International Olympic Committee from 1980 until 2001. Samaranch, more than anyone, built the modern Olympic movement. Unfortunately, he was also an enthusiastic Francoite, repeatedly photographed giving fascist salutes to the Generalissimo. As sports journalist Andrew Jennings writes: “The IOC retained a number of prominent German and Italian Nazis in its ranks after World War Two. Samaranch merely followed a tradition linking the IOC to the extreme right that goes back to the Nazi U-Boats, decorated with the Olympic rings. Even today, mentioning Samaranch’s repellent fascist record is taboo at the IOC. Maybe that’s because he appointed 84 of the current 111 members.”
Not every sporting administrator fantasises about running a concentration camp but one shouldn’t be surprised that people like Mosley and Samaranch find a niche in a hierarchical, unaccountable and macho bureaucracy.
Wayne Carey might be a pretty mixed-up guy but no-one’s ever accused him of Nazism. Yet compare Bernie Ecclestone on Mosley: “I’ve known him an awful long time. If somebody had told me this without the evidence I would have found it difficult to believe. Assuming it’s all true, what people do privately is up to them. I don’t honestly believe (it) affects the sport in any way.”
“Private behaviour” is not an excuse that anyone has made for Carey since he stopped winning matches. But who’s more responsible for the toxic culture of elite sport: the young men who play the game or the old men who run it?
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Jeff Sparrow is the editor of Overland.