When FIFA announced their decision to hold the 2018 World Cup in Russia I didn’t really care that this was in preference to an English bid.
However, I then thought about my sons. They will be seventeen and fifteen in 2018, perhaps they would like to see some of the games? I then consoled myself with the fact that they, and the youth of 2018, would in the long run, probably get more from watching Liverpool, Arsenal, Chelsea or any other club, big or small, on a regular basis up to and beyond 2018 rather than a one off blockbuster between Bulgaria v Costa Rica at the MK Dons Stadium!
Wishful thinking or what? It doesn’t really matter. What I find offensive is the reaction of the English camp and media to the decision. Now that the bid has failed they put away their “nicey nicey vote for us” smiles and resorted to indignation and crying foul. They suggest they have been lied to by delegates as if they have signed some binding contract meaning they couldn’t change their mind or be influenced by other countries’ lobbying. They suggest the selection process was fixed and flawed even though I believe it is very similar to the process used to select David Cameron, one of our men out in Zurich, as Tory leader. Add to that a degree of implied, or in some cases blatant, xenophobia suggesting that those countries who won the bids for 2018 and 2022 aren’t fit or capable hosts because well er… they’re not as perfect as us and you’ve a rather distasteful cocktail of bitterness.
It also seems a tad hypocritical that England indulged in an orgy of ego massaging trying to convince the FIFA delegates of their bid’s suitability while in the same breath we chide some of them for corruptness and susceptibility to influence. Admittedly the bid team and the BBC are two different parties but do the FIFA delegates see this? Do they see one country? Moreover when the lobbying or voting system doesn’t work for us we cry foul, stamp our feet and press for reform yet had we won the ballot, would we have given a toss about that?
It is also naive and patronising in the extreme to think that the personal agendas of grown, rational men can be influenced by wheeling out Prince William or David Beckham. I would also suggest it in fact, downright detrimental to any chances we had by involving the present incumbent of Downing Street!
Even though England is the supposed “Motherland” of Football (Sep Blatter’s words not mine), they have no divine right to host the World Cup. Their bid may have been better technically but if that were the sole reason for selecting a host no one more than few countries would get a look in. That is just one factor to be considered along with the issues such the legacy, money and promoting and sharing the phenomenon that is football across the globe.
I have no doubt that those involved with the England bid worked hard and feel a tad p*ssed about the other day but they should know better. Football can on occasions defy all logic, on and off the field. FIFA, and the outcome of their selection process, is no exception. England should learn to live with it and, instead on spewing out sour grapes, wish Russia and Qatar good luck.