Set against the backdrop of Kenyan massacres and Iraqi insurgency, FIFA is concerned that Islamist militants may not be giving Brazil 2014 their full attention. Despite wall-to-wall TV coverage, there is a growing suspicion that some of the world’s population are choosing not to embrace footballing worship and are instead favouring revolution, seventy two virgins and a ‘nice game of croquet’.
Although the World Cup cost well in excess of $14 billion, Sunni militants seem more obsessed with Baghdad than the melodious prose of Phil Neville. New technologies such as vanishing foam, goal-line sensors and improved corruption have failed to distract Jihadists from their ultimate goal ‘of keeping Wayne Rooney off the front page’. Even a prize money totalling $576m and the lure of the percussive caxirola, does not seem to have dented the extremists’ love of all shoot outs, except penalties.
Ironically Iran has been one of the first countries to offer a defence against the Iraqi militants and to organise a tight back four, with two holding midfielders (Nekounam and Timotian) in front. So impressed by their ‘plucky’ nil-nil draw with Nigeria, the UK has announced they will be re-opening their Embassy in Tehran. A spokesman for the Foreign Office said: ‘A monitored nuclear programme is one thing, but grabbing a point against the run of play is to be applauded. Hell - if they beat Argentina in their next game, we’ll give them a nuclear sub for free!’
Yet despite all this there is a complete absence of pubs, wide-screen TVs and pork scratchings in Northern Iraq. One FIFA spokesman spoke of his bewilderment: ‘If I was a fundamentalist surely I’d be excited by the idea of 37 cameras in every stadium; including Aerial, Cable and Ultramotion cams for dedicated close ups of young women jiggling in overly tight replica shirts. We’ve even changed Brazilian legislation to allow the sale of Budweiser in stadiums – for a Muslim, what’s not to like?’