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.