Спасибо, г-н Блаттер. Ваши деньги в конверте

Gutted. Obviously.

Given the public desire for a hanging so as to allocate blame for the failure of the England bid, Panorama and the Sunday Times look to be first up against the wall. There are evidently a lot of angry people about – but the point of a free press is that it’s able to say what it wants to, when it wants to, even when it’s a bit uncomfortable. Which is kind of the point – and, I suspect, not quite the case in a couple of other countries I could name. Stories emerging about Blatter reminding FIFA executive committee delegates of the ‘evils of the media’ just indicates that there is something to hide and reinforces the view that Panorama and the Sunday Times were right to act as they did.

What is interesting in this context, however, was the decision by FIFA first not to declare the round-by-round voting details, just an overall winner, and then to decide to do so. I do wonder how much of a role in this decision was played by England coming, well, last out of four and a desire to stick one back: a sort of two finger salute in return for the two votes the bid won and the quickest possible early bath.

At least Russia does have a footballing tradition.

As for Qatar in 2022: a  country with no footballing tradition (and therefore no-one to bring the game to), where homosexuality is illegal (football doesn’t exactly have the best of records here but at least awareness of the need to do better for gay footballers is improving) and where games may well be played in 50 degree heat is clearly more than just a ‘high risk’; it should never have made it to the voting floor. Evidently, a somewhat naive view. Neither can I see the country’s success doing much for the environment: the stadia may be zero carbon despite all that air con and, while the need for mega blocks of construction only to dismantle the new grounds for export to developing countries has an appeal at one level – well, it would have won a few more votes – it does defeat the object of having something sustainable in place after the event. And just where is all that new transport infrastructure going to take people once the stadia have all been dismantled?

Football is an international game and the media frenzy is such that it probably increasingly doesn’t really matter where the World Cup is hosted (other than where respect for human rights is evidently lacking). Indeed, there’s probably some truth in the rumour that Sepp Blatter is, as I write, checking out NASA’s research into alternative biochemistry make-up to see whether Mars can host the World Cup in 2050. Only time will tell, but the desire to extend football’s influence into new places seems at this stage already to have reached its apotheosis with Qatar.

Final word to @kmflett:

England World Cup bid- Dave Cameron & Boris Johnson confirm that John Major’s King Midas in Reverse Syndrome is back.

Nice one!

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Goal-line technology

Note to my fellow England fans here:

Football is a human game, based on human decisions; it is a game that can be debated, is controversial, is subject to chance. When you concede that technology has the upper hand, not only does football lose the human interest but it becomes little more than something to place a bet on. Elements with an interest in the game may well want that – but the minute football concedes that decisions are no longer subject to human error is the minute that it, finally, concedes its soul to the money men.

Yes, it hurts, right now. But football is a game, not a business.

And at least now we can now enjoy the World Cup, properly. And, importantly, we should recognise that this is a cracking, classic counter-punching German side.

[Edit 29 June: Not really worth a new post, but Sepp Blatter, the FIFA President who has previously turned firmly away from using technology in football, has today apologised to England (and to Mexico) – and I’m sure we all feel better as a result of that. Ultimately, however, and on the key assumption that refs are neither biased nor deliberately making bad decisions, and I don’t think that either of those are really in question, these things do tend to even themselves out: you gain from some decisions; you lose from others. Usually, you tend to remember the ones you gain from and forget the others, mind. But that’s football and it’s also life itself, for which football continues to be a decent metaphor – you can’t iron out all the creases which make life worthwhile and it’s controversy and the resultant struggle which forces people to grow: remember this? How would that be reffed in the light of video replays and how would Beckham’s career have evolved subsequently?]

Here we go again…

… It’s Germany in the last 16. And we know how that ends.

If only we’d scored one more of those chances v Slovenia then it would have been Ghana next – though big and powerful, the Ghanaians look a more preferable opponent for me at this stage than Germany: for all the obvious reasons, as well as for the German side having probably the player of the tournament so far in Mesut Özil.

Oh well. Though at this rate, there’s no guarantee that this game will be over before the England players are home.

In the meantime, and moving on from the petty reactionaryism over the ABE and SNP nonsense, this new Irn Bru advert, nay campaign, made me laugh out loud…

Random note to players in the England football team…

… if you don’t want to be out there on the pitch, or if you’d rather be out on safari in SA or at the Lion Park, no problem – just have a quiet word with Mr. Capello and he’ll happily pick someone else who really does want to be on the pitch playing for his national side.

Oh, and Roo – we know that you were very disappointed at the result and the performance and, in the heat of the moment, things come out that you don’t mean to; and I’m not having a go, because (despite obviously not being in the greatest of form) you were far from the worst player out there last night – but fans have paid an awful lot of money to get out there to support the team and they expect a bit better. You might not actually get out of bed for that sort of money – but they have to do a lot more than that and, if they see people out there who simply aren’t trying and who look for all the world as if they just don’t give a **** (not you personally), they’re fully entitled to voice their discontent.

That is all.

Green Is Blues

Come on, cut the guy some slack. Anyone can make a mistake. And one mistake doesn’t make a bad keeper – a lot of bad press might, although Green himself seems to be standing up pretty well.

Talking of green, though: I hope Wembley’s grounds staff are taking note of the quality of the pitches in South Africa: that’s how to lay a pitch for football – smooth as a carpet and no cutting up…

Hat-tip: The Reverend Al Green