It’s an enduring theme in the Australian media — the systematic corruption of international sports administration.

Time and again, the media feign surprise at the discovery that when it comes to international sporting organisations, self-interest, back-stabbing and blatant corruption are the order of the day. Not like real international diplomacy, of course.

Now our own John Howard has been the victim of international cricketing bastardry, denied by the “Asian and African bloc” of the top job at the ICC.  The racial undertones are marvellous, given Howard’s chequered history on issues of such sensitivity, although whether he has been blackballed because he expressed appropriate disgust about Robert Mugabe, or he called Muttiah Muralitharan a chucker, is unclear. Maybe it’s just because the Indians now own world cricket and don’t like the idea of someone who is unlikely to be too pliable running the show.

It’s enough to get even solid Labor voters bristling at the treatment dished out to the bloke they once hated with a passion.

Meantime, quelle surprise, it turns out our bid for the soccer World Cup — an event run by that shining beacon of probity and transparency, FIFA — involves handing out expensive gifts to the sporting administrative equivalent of WAGs. Turns out FIFA makes even the International Olympic Committee, which overhauled itself after the Salt Lake City Winter Olympic scandal, looked ridgy-didge.

The broader lesson is that international sporting politics is grubby, self-interested and dominated by powerful interests which bigger things on their minds than Australian sporting prowess. We should skip the outrage and accept that in international sport the game off the field is far rougher than the one on it.

Peter Fray

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