“And the host of the 2018 World Cup is….Russia…
And the host of the 2022 World Cup is….Qatar”
When the abovementioned hosts were announced just after 2am last Friday morning, I no longer needed my shot of espresso to wake me up. Rather, I needed something to drown my sorrows.
If that wasn’t enough, I became nauseous when I learnt:
- England was out in straight sets and finished dead last in the voting for 2018;
- Australia was out in straight sets and finished dead last in the voting for 2022; and
- The icing on the cake….the results was allegedly known approximately one hour before the tournament. So much for a secret ballot….
I can read the headlines already…. FIFA president Sepp, or should I say Gall, Blatter is remembered as the man who took the World Cup to Eastern Europe and the Middle East (along with Africa).
What won’t be widely reported is that Qatar’s victory gives him a reprieve, for had the World Cup not gone to Qatar, Asian Football Confederation chief Mohamed bin Hammam (Qatar’s bid chief, no less) would have allegedly challenged Blatter for the FIFA presidency. Blatter will now serve a fourth term as FIFA president.
So Hamman gets the glory of winning the World Cup for Qatar (a nice ego check) and Blatter gets to keep his job (and leave a “legacy” behind).
Nice wok guys – ego and political aspirations first, most logical choice and delivering fans a better footballing experience, a distant second.
Russia won the vote in a landslide victory in as early of the second round of voting, whilst England, a favourite, was miraculously sent packing after securing only two votes!
Nevertheless, in the weeks leading up to the vote, Blatter himself stated, “England can organize the World Cup tomorrow” boasting of its numerous world class stadia and the necessary infrastructure to deliver the world’s biggest sporting event.
And what of Russia…? FIFA’s own inspectors graded the bid as a “medium” operational risk and did not appear concerned by:
- Travelling distances between host cities;
- The need for extensive investment in infrastructure; and
- The problem of racism amongst Russian fans (read – the banner erected by Lokomotiv Moscow supporters that abused Peter Odemwingie when he moved to West Bromwich Albion).
I can only guess FIFA didn’t appreciate England’s media recently uncovering new evidence about bribery claims regarding four of the men who voted last Friday morning. Three of those men, Cameroon’s Issa Hayatou, Brazil’s Ricardo Teixera and Paraguay’s Nicolas Leoz were accused of accepting bribes in the 1990’s and the fourth, CONCACAF President, Jack Warner was treated to a renewal of old allegations from earlier this year when he allegedly sold thousands of World Cup tickets on the black market for personal gain….but more on the issue of bribery and these shady characters, namely Hayatou, in Part 2….
It’s a travesty to think that the country which gave the world the beautiful game and continues to give so much to the world through its highly successful league – the most widely followed in the world, no less, scored so miserably in the voting last Friday.
England must now wait in excess of 60 years before football comes home.
I’m all in favour of FIFA’s legacy argument and desire to sail into unchartered waters, but in order to move forward one must also acknowledge and pay respect to our past. Further, a nation should be awarded the World Cup on its respective merits.
England would have been a logical, fair and timely choice.
It appears reputation means nothing in FIFA’s murky corridors of power.
Mark “The F Word” Fiorenti