2018/2022 Reaction: Why can a country ranked 113th in the world host the World Cup, but we can't?

2022 World Cup Hosts: Qatar
So, England’s three intrepid lions have failed, Prime Minister, Prince and Player could not manage to pull the nation’s very proud bid home. And so no, football is not coming home any time soon, not least until 2030, and that’ll be via Qatar. Instead, for the nations that qualify the summer of 2018 will be spent in Russia. Lovely.

All sources, including those within FIFA, seemed to suggest that England’s bid was the most technically and commercially sound. A World Cup that would pose the least amount of issues, for a seemingly issue riddled institution. So why then, did our bid only receive one vote other than that supplied by our own bid chairman Geoff Thompson?

Among the plethora of conspiracies are those that suggest the voting system, along with running the election of two World Cup hosts simultaneously, has led to both tactical voting and false promises. At FIFA? Heaven forbid. The Chief Exec of England’s bid, Andy Anson, has furthered such speculation by suggesting deals were done between FIFA executive committee members (those with the vote) championing 2018 campaigns, in return for 2022 votes and no doubt, vice versa.

This may then go some way to explain the election of Qatar, a nation with a smaller population than Kent and a national team that has never reached a World Cup Finals, as hosts of the 2022 World Cup. Prior to the official announcement, the BBC‘s Jonathan Pearce reported hugs exchanged deep within the loins of FIFA between Qatari and Iberian officials, two delegations bidding for two separate tournaments. Another news source suggested the Qatari bid had played “a beautiful political game” but all allegations of vote-trading with the Spain/Portugal 2018 bid were independent, naturally.

"One more chance BBC!"
Following the announcements, England’s captain responded in typical Rio fashion; via twitter. Surprisingly enough, no “merkings” were in sight, just an outburst on taste. This from a man who posted topless photographs of himself during last summer’s World Cup on twitter, wearing nothing but childlike England face paint. But this time, he may have had a point: “The timing of the Panorama programme was bad taste. Fact”. Allegations have been such as to suggest that throughout England’s bid the media have been out to if not destroy, then deface it’s credibility. Highlights have included the undercover story involving former FA Chairman Lord Triesman and allegations made against the Iberian bid.  Then there were two members of the FIFA Executive committee banned following claims that their votes were for sale. Both stories which have been rooted and released in the British media. Finally and most controversially as Rio says, has been the Panorama Special aired on Monday evening, with the BBC, a government quango, accusing several FIFA Exec committee members of corruption only a few days before the vote.  But was this right or was this wrong? Many are suggesting that our moral compasses are being swayed in blind passion for the game - of course the committee members in hand deserve to be dealt with here and now. And then there are the majority who agree with the damnation of these characters, but disagree with the timing. In which case are we not guilty of crucifixion, via a couple of favours?  

The only "XL" sized photo ever to
make it onto the blog. But worth it.

If these allegations of media destruction aren’t to blame, then many, including Alan Shearer will be “lost for words”, a phrase repeated several times in a 2 minute interview with Gabby Logan following the news. Bizarrely, the news that England hadn’t even made it through the first round was broken prior to the official announcement by a “source” which within minutes transpired to be the BBC’s pillar of reliability; Gary Lineker. A man whose mind would have been forgiven for being elsewhere, having seen his wife’s recent enhancements. But, within minutes, rumour had become fact. Millions of hearts broken, as a generation of supporters waved goodbye to the thought of a World Cup on home soil in their life time.

Either way, the location of the next three World Cups are now known. Add the tournament just passed this summer and all will have been in “developing” nations. Whilst South Africa is developing economically, the benefit of FIFA holding a tournament on the African continent for the first time and developing the game there seems to have been key to its selection. Next up Brazil, unlike South Africa no strangers to the game, but similarly, developing economically. The first initial of the new B.R.I.C. economies, FIFA clearly sees the developing affluence in the nation the main draw. Following this is the next initial, Russia, alluring for similar reasons. But different in the fact that football is a growing sport there. Finally then Qatar, they certainly don’t need any further economic growth, but the chance to hold a World Cup in an Arab state for the first time and spread the FIFA message in the wealthy Middle East has apparently persuaded the decision.

The endemic of Russian football.
Looking forward then, big changes are set to be made as both Russia and Qatar begin implementing their bids into reality. Firstly in Russia, a number of new stadiums are set to be built, complementing some of the already existing footballing infrastructure. Issues facing the Russians and FIFA are more likely to come in the forms of footballing days past. Racism and football violence are still prominent in Russia and Eastern Europe, the most recent high profile incident being the abandonment of the Italy v Serbia game in October. 2022 will hold very different issues, some of which FIFA will never have faced before. How will a country half the size of Wales cope with high levels of tourists? And how are the visitors going to uphold the traditions of World Cups past? They’ll be no beer swilling (drinking in an Arab state?) or plastic chair throwing on the streets of Doha (95 degrees in the shade). The answer to all questions involving this particular tournament is money (Zinedine Zidane was paid $15,000,000 to represent the Qatari bid).  A vote-grabbing feature if ever I saw one is the proposal to dismantle 14 of the newly erected stadiums following the tournament, which will have inbuilt air-conditioning so the tournament is possible, ship them to developing nations around the world and reassemble them so communities afar can share the FIFA message.  Incidentally, this will be at no cost to FIFA themselves.

Seemingly then we are left with the reality that the possibility of England hosting the 2018 World Cup was in fact an impossibility. We have one of the finest leagues in the world, with some of the finest players, and undoubtedly some of the finest fans. We have the infrastructure, the desire and the knowhow. We also have a media with a true passion for the game. And while a hedonistic, and perhaps self-destructiveness tendency can be attributed to this institute at times, this is not to blame. The deciding factor was nothing to do with the Prime Minister, future King or ex-Captain, in fact it was nothing to do with our bid. How could it be? It was by far the best. The issue is FIFA. The governing body of football is rotten to the core, and worse than this, no longer in the interest of the game. The foulest thing of all is that for a minute, we believed.


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