Last Week Tonight with John Oliver (2014–…): Season 1, Episode 6 - FIFA and the World Cup - full transcript

John Oliver discusses the anniversary of the Tiananmen Square rebellion and the FIFA World Cup and invites Right Said Fred to send a message to Bashar al-Assad.

Are you wondering how healthy the food you are eating is? Check it -

Episode 6

Welcome to Last Week Tonight.
My name is John Oliver.

Thank you so much,
thank you for being with us.

Let's have a quick recap of the week.

To be honest, this week
has been a huge disappointment.

All week long
we were promised a fairy tale.

California Chrome
will try to become

the 12th horse
to ever win the Triple Crown.

Can California Chrome do it ?

God speed
and speed to that great horse.

God speed, California Chrome !
Run like a horse !

I mean as fast as you can until that
tiny man balancing on your back

stops hitting you with a stick.

But sadly,
it was not meant to be.

California Chrome
lost some of its shine

at the Belmont stakes when Tonalist
crossed the finish line to win.

Who the fuck is Tonalist ?!

That's not the horse I wanted.
I wanted a different horse !

Fuck this horse.
If that horse is Tonalist !

It's hard to tell, they're all horses
but fuck that horse.

All was not lost. While yesterday
didn't give us a Triple Crown Winner,

it did give us in California Chrome's
co-owner Steve Coburn,

the secretariat of sore losers:

If you can't make enough points
to get into the Kentucky Derby,

you can't run in the other two races
and it's all or nothing.

This is not fair to these horses.

Exactly, we need to treat
these horses fairly.

By breeding them until they have
structural integrity of a Jenga tower

and then when they collapse,
shooting them in the head.

Well done, Coburn.

Because it is not easy to be
the least classy person at a racetrack.

Let's cut him a break.
It was the heat of the moment.

Let's see what he said this morning
once he had a chance to sleep it off.

You figure it out,
and I mean... Ask yourself,

would it be fair if I played basketball
with a child in a wheelchair ?

I guess that depends, how good
is the child's outside shot

and are you as bad at basketball
as you are at analogies ?

In other absurd competitions,
there was an amazing moment

on the German version of
"Who Wants To Be A Millionaire."

The full title in German is
"Who Dares Have The Hubris"

"To Assume They Deserve Great
Wealth For Mere Excellence In Trivia ?"

Beautiful language.

It happened when the contestant,
Wolfgang Bosbach,

just like honey off the tongue,

it happened when he decided
to use his lifeline

to call German chancellor
Angela Merkel:

A German lawmaker tried Merkel
for his phone a friend lifeline.

Who should I call now
except the chancellor ?

I don't know if she's busy.

Let me answer that for you.
She is. She is busy.

She's not in a meeting with
a Greek finance minister saying:

"You mind if I leave my phone on ?
You know the phone a friend option ?"

"I'm the friend !"

"For any questions regarding
the I.M.F. or Doctor Who is me."

Please tell me she did not
answer that phone.

When the show called her,
they got her voicemail twice.

Good. The only thing worse
than her answering would be

if she'd answered it saying:
"Hello ! It's Angela."

"Can't hear you ! It's loud in club !
I'm so wasted right now !"

Speaking of Germans
losing things,

it was the 70th anniversary
of D-Day this week.

One of... Okay.

It was one of two
major anniversaries,

the other being the 25th anniversary
of the protests in Tiananmen Square.

Not that you would know that
if you lived in China.

China's done their best to erase
the massacre from history books.

Search "Tiananmen Square" on
China's monitored internet

and the results are censored.

25 years have passed and we still
don't know what happened.

That's not cool, I think.

- Not cool ?
- Yeah.

Not cool ? Wearing socks
and sandals is "not cool".

Ordering fries "for the table"
and eating them all that's not cool.

Erasing a massacre is chilling.

Protesters tried
to subvert the Government

using phrases like "May the 35th"
instead of June the Fourth.

That caused authorities
to clamp down even harder.

The list of banned words
gets longer and longer,

so this year, words that were
banned like "today", "this day",

"sensitive day," even the phrase
"when spring turns to summer".

No ! You can't ban
"when spring turns to summer !"

I need access to the Chinese market
if my novel is going to succeed !

No one wants that,
nobody wants that.

The most ingenious attempt
at subversion was this:

when a Chinese soap opera
actress's supposed sex video leaked,

an activist group edited the video
to add in messages

encouraging people to show up
at Tiananmen Square.

That is brilliant. Can you even
imagine how smart we would be

if we snuck information
into our pornography ?

"I want you so bad."
Actually, it's badly.

That's just one of six grammar
rules that I'm anxious to cover

during this fornication.

Pornography is illegal in China,
so the government took it down.

What we need to sneak
the message out there

would be something both legal
and popular among China's youth.

"Friends" lives on in the heart
of the Chinese capital,

where a "Central Perk" replica
is being built by Du Xin.

We want to be like one
of the characters in the show.

It's about caring between friends.

I'm crazy about Friends.

China is, for some reason,
obsessed with "Friends".

Did you know
that the Chinese character

for "Obsession with friends" is
the same as the one for "opportunity" ?

This might help young people
in China remember Tiananmen Square:

- Gentlemen, pick your category.
- Fears and pet-peeves.

What is Monica's biggest
pet-peeve ?

- The government killing people.
- Correct.

- Ladies ?
- Same category.

According to Chandler,

how many died in the 1989
Tiananmen Square protests ?

Anywhere from 200
to 2600 !

That is correct.

Why'd they kill those guys ?

They wanted free speech
and government accountability.

Hang in there, China.
"We'll be there for you".

I would like to talk to you
about the sausage principle.

The theory that says,

if you love something,
never find out how it was made.

Tonight, I would like
to show you my sausage.

Wait !
This is my sausage.

The 2014 FIFA World Cup.

My god, okay, the World Cup
starts this week

and I am both excited
and conflicted about it.

In America, soccer is something you
pick your daughter up from.

But for me, and everyone else
on earth, it's a little more important.

Soccer had become
Brazil's religion.

In Columbia, soccer was a religion.

Football is a religion here.

Soccer or football,
like we say, it's a religion.

They're not exaggerating. When
David Beckham got a tattoo of Jesus,

the response
of most soccer fans was:

"That's huge for Jesus.
That's a big deal for him."

Here's my conflict, the World Cup
is one of my favorite things.

But it's organized by these guys.
FIFA. You either know it

as "The Federation Internationale
de Football Association"

or that soccer video game
you have.

But for American viewers who
may never have encountered them,

FIFA is a comically
grotesque organization.

Telling someone about the inner
workings of FIFA for the first time

is a bit like showing someone
"two girls one cup."

You do it so you can watch the
horrified expressions on faces.

Let's start where FIFA's current
world cup will take place: Brazil.

Brazilians are excited
about everything.

This is how they celebrate the fact
that it's just about to be Lent !

They love the concept of giving
up chocolate temporarily.

They're the biggest
soccer fans on earth.

They must be thrilled at the prospect
of hosting the World Cup.

There has been months of unrest
in some of the city's favilas

with clashes between
police and residents.

People demonstrated against
Brazil holding the World Cup.

That makes no sense.
Why would you be unhappy

hosting the thing you love
the most in all the world ?

The government spent $11 billion
getting ready.

The US team will play its second
game here in the city of Manaus,

in this brand new,
270 million dollar stadium.

Manaus is so remote, it's almost
impossible to reach by car,

which is why officials had to have
materials brought in by boat,

shipped across from Portugal
and up the Amazon River.

Okay that does seem
like a waste of money.

That stadium is only going to be
used for four World Cup games.

There's also no team in Manaus
that can fill it afterwards,

it becomes the world's
most expensive bird toilet.

No wonder
Brazilians are so upset,

when you think about what
they're getting in return.

They're going to make money
as well as the money they're spending.

FIFA makes the money,
this is where the controversy is.

The country doesn't make money.
FIFA is who makes the money.

Brazil, let me put this in terms
you might understand:

think of money as pubic hair
and FIFA as wax.

They're going to be all over you
during the World Cup.

When they go, they're taking
all the money with them.

Including some from places you
didn't know you had money.

Leaving you teary eyed going
"Jesus, what happened here ?"

"I'm never doing this again."

Here are FIFA's tax demands
for prospective host countries:

It is FIFA and it's FIFA's
subsidiaries that are fully exempt

from any tax whatsoever
levied at whatever level.

Consumption taxes, income taxes,
it's all exempt.

That's right.
By the Brazil's own estimates,

they're allowing FIFA to
forego $250 million in taxes.

Wesley Snipes is going:

"So soccer was the answer...
It seems so obvious now."

FIFA says they leave a lot behind.
Which they do, like new laws.

Once upon a time, Brazil did this:

In 2003, the Brazilian government
banned alcohol from stadiums

because of the high
death rate amongst fans.

That seems like a good idea.
Potentially life-saving, even.

Budweiser is one
of FIFA's key sponsors.

They sell a product they reflexively
insist on calling "beer".

FIFA seemed anxious
to protect Budweiser

from a law designed
to protect people.

FIFA's secretary general went
to Brazil with a simple message.

I'm sorry to say
and maybe I look arrogant,

but that's something
we are not negotiating.

There will be and there
must be a spot of the law,

the fact that we have
the right to sell beer.

If maybe I look a bit arrogant,
but how you say it ?

Fuck your laws
and your public safety.

And the amazing thing is here:
FIFA won.

They pressured Brazil into passing
"Budweiser bill",

allowing beer sales
in soccer stadiums.

You can either be horrified
by that or relieved

that FIFA wasn't also sponsored
by cocaine and chainsaws.

Brazil's lucky at least they just
had FIFA force alcohol on them.

When South Africa hosted
the World Cup,

FIFA forced the creation of
"the FIFA World Cup Courts".

It's like going to the World Series
and being dragged

in front
of judge Philly Phanatic.

Except FIFA's courts
were no joke.

Two Zimbabweans who robbed
foreign journalists on a Wednesday

were arrested on a Thursday
and began 15 year jail sentences.

Unsettlingly fast. That's like
when you order Chinese food

and it comes five minutes later.

Thanks very much
but that was too quick.

You didn't have time
to make this properly.

There is an irony in FIFA setting up
"any" kind of justice system,

given the scandals
that have dogged it.

FIFA tried to tackle
its shady inner workings

by suspending two executives
on corruption charges.

The FIFA scandal rumbles on,
Jack Warner resigned as vice president.

Many corruption
scandals FIFA had to deal with.

Bribery and FIFA go together
like peanut butter and jelly.

They shouldn't, peanut butter and
jelly are "supposed" to go together.

FIFA and bribery
should go together

like peanut butter and a child
with a deadly nut allergy.

No, Devin, no !
It's for your brother !

If you think FIFA can't get
any more cartoonishly evil,

this is their headquarters'
"actual" boardroom.

FIFA modeled where they meet on
the war room from "Dr. Strangelove".

"Exhibit A" for "an organization that
does not give a shit what you think."

The head of FIFA maintains that
they are a non-profit organization.

We are a non-profit organization
and we have to remain one.

A non-profit with over
a billion dollars in the bank.

Yes, but this is a reserve !

A reserve of a billion dollars.
When your rainy day fund is so big,

you've got to check it
for swimming cartoon ducks,

you might not be
a non-profit anymore.

The man you just saw
is Sepp Blatter

and even his name
should have been a red flag.

If your name is Sepp,
at the bare minimum,

you've strangled someone
in a bar fight, that's just a fact.

Let me give you a taste
of Sepp Blatter as a human being:

He was asked how should women's
soccer be made more popular.

He said
they should wear shorter shorts.

Great idea. Put the ladies
in hot pants. Call it foxy soccer.

Tighten up the jerseys. Replace
the ball with a plate of hot wings.

Fuck it, let's just open a Hooters.

FIFA, the humble nonprofit,

recently spent $27 million
to fund "United Passions",

a fictionalized version
of their history

starring, for some reason,
Tim Roth as Sepp Blatter.

And this movie,
like FIFA, itself looks terrible.

We'll be the Federation International
de Football Association. FIFA.

The first world cup
will be held in Uruguay.

You have everything
you need to run our family.

But you know,
the slightest error and you're out.

Who makes a sports film where
the heroes are the executives ?

You don't need 2 hours
and Tim Roth

because the greatest film
about Sepp Blatter has been made.

It's ten seconds long
and it's on YouTube.

That is wonderful.
That is the one time you can say:

"I'm glad that old man
fell off that stage."

Perhaps the worst part of FIFA
is not its past or its present.

It's its future. Because the host of
the 2022 World Cup has been decided.

The winner to organize

the 2022 FIFA World Cup is Qatar !

Qatar ?! There's between
one and 50 reasons

why that is an awful idea.

Summer temperatures in Qatar
can reach some 50 degrees Celsius.

A difficult environment to hold
a sporting event outdoors.

50 degrees Celsius
is 122 degrees Fahrenheit.

You are hosting the World Cup

somewhere where soccer
can not physically be played.

That's like if the NFL chose
to host the Super Bowl in a lake.

There are allegations that FIFA
executives took bribes

to put the World Cup in Qatar,
I hope that's true.

Otherwise, it makes no sense.

Not just because of the weather,
but because of the working conditions.

Qatar is a slave state
in the 21st century.

A migrant worker can't leave
without an exit visa,

that visa has to be approved
by his employer.

- Who has your passport ?
- It's in the Main Office.

- So you're trapped here ?
- Yes.

Coffins coming home every day,
more than a worker per day is dying.

From the figures of just
two countries, India and Nepal,

more than 4 000 workers will die
before a ball is kicked off in 2022.

So the Qatar World Cup
is shaping up to be

the most deadly Middle East
construction project since this one.

I hope I've proven to you
that FIFA is just appalling.

And yet,
and here's their power,

I am still so excited about
the World Cup next week.

It's hard to justify
how I can get so much joy

from an organization
that caused so much pain.

Other than going back
to right where we started:

Soccer or football, like we say,
it's a religion.

It's an organized religion.
And FIFA is its church.

Its leader is infallible,
it compels South American countries

to spend money don't have
building opulent cathedrals

and it may be responsible for
the deaths in the Middle East.

But for millions of people
around the world, like me,

it is also the guardian of the only
thing that gives lives any meaning.

If that comparison doesn't make
Americans love soccer

then frankly nothing will.

And now this:

Chris Matthews reminds everyone
who he used to work for.

I worked in the business of politics
when you had Tip O'Neill, my boss.

I worked for Tip O'Neill.
My great boss O'Neill. Tip O'Neill.

I got to know it because
I was Tip's guy.

My old boss Tip O'Neill
loves the "Golden Girls".

And finally tonight,
a lighter subject, Syria.

For three years now,

Bashar al-Assad has been brutally
clamping down on his own people.

Killing more than 100 000 people
and displacing millions.

And yet Assad is still there.

He's like herpes or
a Prairie Home Companion.

At this point, he's clearly
never fucking going away.

This week, in the midst
of this bloodbath,

he had the bare-faced-balls
to stage an election.

Guess how that turned out.

President Bashar al-Assad allegedly
won nearly 89 percent of the votes.

89 percent ?
That is too high.

All dictators should know:
a rigged election should be

like a pleasant spring day,
high sixties, low seventies.

Al-Assad is a maniac and nothing
we can do is going to stop him.

We tried taking away his chemical
weapons. Guess what happened ?

The Syrian regime
may have found a loophole.

Chlorine gas, which can be used
legitimately in water treatment,

has also allegedly been used
in government bombing attacks.

The poison gas burns the lungs
and can be deadly.

We're not going to do
anything about that.

The opposition are made up
of "1 000 distinct armed units",

and any regime change is likely
to be followed by ethnic cleansing.

You're thinking "it's the Middle East,
everything will be fine. It always is."

This time, I'm not so sure.
Basically: we are stuck.

Syria is at the mercy of this guy.

If we're forced to live
in a perpetual nightmare,

let's learn something about
the man who put us there.

What's this
super-villain's backstory ?

Growing up he was a polite boy

who never lorded
his status over his friends.

Assad ended up studying
ophthalmology in London

and was known for his love
of volleyball and rock music

than for his interest in politics.

Okay, that's a surprise. A volleyball,
music loving ophthalmologist

was not the back story
I was expecting.

When you look at his face it does
actually makes sense.

He could not look more like
an ophthalmologist than that.

Why didn't he follow his incredibly
boring dream and do that ?

Because he should be treating
an 8-year-old's case of pink-eye now.

That actually could have happened,
if it wasn't for a cruel twist of fate.

In 1994, Assad was suddenly
called back to Syria

after his older brother
was killed in a car accident.

He was now
next in line to rule.

So he was second choice
behind his older brother.

We're just lucky to have avoided
the third Assad brother, Dustin,

a screw-up he forgot to wish
Aunt Linda a happy birthday.

Fuck you, Dustin,
she only turns 75 once.

I'm not a psychologist but I would
say that Assad has family issues.

The strong figure in this family,
after the death of Hafez Assad,

was Aniseh, the mother of Bashar
and she was known to urge Bashar

to crack down even harder,
to live up to the legacy of his father.

- She is pressuring him ?
- Yes.

Perfect. So now we've got
a brutal dictator with mommy issues.

Next thing we'll hear about
is about his bed-wetting problem.

And the fact that he won't go
anywhere without his woobie.

The more you learn about Assad,
more you come to terms with the fact

that he's half mass-murderer
and half your creepy roommate.

Two years ago,
a trove of his emails leaked,

and the world had a glimpse
into his music tastes.

As the people of Syria have been
fighting and dying for their freedom,

their president Bashir al Assad has
been ordering pop music off of iTunes.

His playlist includes
"Sexy and I Know it" by LMFAO.

LMFAO ? We're dealing with someone

with the political instincts
of a young Joseph Stalin

and music tastes of a 14-year-old
girl from Orange County named Tiffany.

That song is so hot right now.

Among Assad's other purchases were
a song from "Right Said Fred",

the British sensation
you might remember from this:

That is a great song, by the way.

But it shouldn't be
on a dictator's playlist.

A dictator's power
is in their mystique.

When you picture Assad,
he wants you to hear this:

Now when you look at him
all you should be able to hear is this:

And that's the point:
he's a monster, but he's also a moron.

It's frustrating that we're powerless
to do anything to hurt him.

If only there were something,
however small, we could do.

We could find something
he loves and turn it against him.

We could track down,
let's say, Right Said Fred.

And we could, hypothetically,
fly them here from London

to perform a rewritten anti-Assad
version of their greatest hit.

Would it really be worth,
for the momentary catharsis

of mildly irritating one of
the worst people on the planet ?

Ladies and gentleman,
may I present to you,

one of Bashar al Assad's favorite
bands, Right Said Fred !

You're too awful for this earth.
Too awful for this earth.

So awful it hurts.

Your face has barely got a chin.
It's barely got a chin.

You look just like him...

So please,
stop downloading our tracks.

Here's your money back.

You're a monster.
We hate your regime.

And we think you should be
tried for war crimes.

Yeah, for war crimes, yeah.

You should probably
be on trial for war crimes.

You're an ophthalmologist.
Can you read this ?

You are just a walking taint.
The opposite of a saint.

At least Hitler could paint.

You're a monster.
And a volleyball fan.

But more than that,
you're an asshole.

Who's afraid of his mom.

You're a murderous
mom-fearing asshole.

You're an asshole !
You're an asshole, yeah !

Everyone thinks you're an asshole !
All together now !

You're an asshole !
You're an asshole, yeah !

Everyone thinks you're an asshole !

Here we go !

Please stop listening to our songs.

Yes ! That's our show, goodnight.

That's our show,
thanks to Right Said Fred,

have a great week.