Peter Storey asks “You’re telling me the Pope can sanction condoms and FIFA can’t change their voting system?! “
There are times in one’s life when one has to ask ‘were they high on crack when they made that decision?’ This is one of those times. I am, of course, talking about FIFA’s choice of venues for the 2018 and 2022 World Cups.
England missed out winning the bid to host the 2018 World Cup by only receiving 2 votes out of a possible 22 in the first round, with Russia (that’s right – one of the most barren landscapes on the planet) going on to win the bid in the second round of voting. This announcement was followed up by FIFA president, Sepp Blatter, announcing that the 2022 World Cup is to be held in Qatar (that’s right – one of the warmest regions of the world, not to mention its size). Quite rightly, England was (and still is) furious. But that’s not to say anyone’s bitter, and I’m sure Sepp Blatter would join me in advising people to seek out a video of him falling over whilst trying to shake people’s hands. And now that the dust has settled from the decision, it is time to begin the great and ancient English tradition of placing blame on something or someone.
Obviously the first target of blame was the British media. Of course this is a ridiculous idea. Let’s look through the facts. Firstly, several newspapers and a BBC Panorama special reported upon corruption in FIFA. I think everyone will concede that the timing was not perfect, but as reported, FIFA were a brick wall when reporters tried to gain information from them to explain certain financial transactions. If anything it’s FIFA’s fault for not being more open. Secondly, the British media is already notorious for their licence in reporting and so it’s something that everyone has got used to. This was a fact that Sepp Blatter thought it important to remind fellow voters before they casted their ballots.
Another target of criticism was the violence and pitch invasion after the match between Birmingham and Aston Villa just the night before votes were cast. Again, this is ridiculous. England is noted as one of the most notorious areas in the world for football violence. It is a factor that FIFA executives would have been all too aware of regardless. Even if one of the FIFA executive was planning to vote for England, it is hard to imagine that one football riot would suddenly change their mind; after all, Russia is notorious for racism and violence in football as well.
A third point of blame was that the England bid was simply not good enough. Once again, this is simply not the case. England has one of (if not) the best infrastructures for football and the best football league in the world. England’s bid should have blown the competition out of the water. This is even more apparent since Prince William, David Cameron and David Beckham went to solicit the support of FIFA in the closing stages of the process in Zurich. The actuality that England only received two out of a possible 22 votes in the first round of voting boggles the mind.
No, it is not really any of these factors. It is something much more sinister. It is a God Complex coupled with a pinch of Anglophobia. FIFA is the Papacy of the 21st century. It is accountable to no one, it is the all-powerful overlord of football and if one nation attempts to investigate it, they are sure to receive an excommunication. The secrecy surrounding the executives and their decision making process is also something to worry about. The sheer fact that up to seven executives promised Prince William (a future head of state!) their vote and then failed to deliver speaks reams about FIFA. These developments have led to accusations that FIFA is more concerned with their own interests than those of football’s. In hindsight, perhaps it is the fact that England has the best football league in the world, has an open media and is the motherland of football that put the executives off voting for old Albion. Perhaps FIFA just wishes to spite England and allow countries with similar value systems to their own to host the World Cup.
One executive is even reported to have said that Europe does not like the English and that Europe finds England a hindrance and has never had a forceful impact upon the world of football. Now, I’m not one to bring up two World Wars and a World Cup…