International sporting events have become a mainstay of entertainment and pleasure in many countries across the globe. Such events have long been exploited by governments for political purposes, with the Olympic Games and World Cup tournaments of the 1930s being two good examples, with the regimes of Nazi Germany and Fascist Italy using them to advance their ideological causes.
Whether such events should be the focus of state expenditure at the expense of investment in grass roots sporting initiatives for children is a hotly contested issue. Sports such as football are major industries and generate huge revenues from ticket sales, merchandising and media rights. This clearly begs the question: is it right for governments to subsidise organisations that turnover billions of pounds a year, while schoolchildren suffer as a consequence of neglected local sports facilities.
My answer to this question would be unequivocally, no. It is surely unacceptable for young people to be deprived of decent sports facilities, access to a good standard of coaching and the opportunity to play sport to the best of their abilities, while footballers on multi-million pound salaries benefit from state investment. The Olympic Games and the World Cup are important fixtures of national life, but the physical development of children is even more important.
Thus, I would advocate the view that government policy in this regard should be devised in a way that benefits the many, not the few. Investment at local level should be the priority of all governments. Industries such as football should be responsible for their own interests and should not look to the state for benevolence.