The beautiful game, is run by the most discouraging of crowds.
The World Cup will be in Brazil in 2014, it will then be in Russia for 2018, and then across to the middle East in 2022, and it will very likely end up in China in 2026. Thats 20 years before we get another World Cup in a country that can actually lay claim to an impressive contribution to the sport. has Sepp considered the consequences of such a move?
South Africa was fun, the country went mad for a few weeks, there was a lot of colour, a few parties, some football was played, and the best team won. But it wasn’t the best World Cup by any stretch of the imagination. This is deemed acceptable because everyone is happy to extend the sport to countries just beginning to embrace it, but when you push that too far, you get the problem of loosing influence back home.
On Thursday we didn’t see an international bid committee with the sports best intentions at heart, we saw a bid committee that had too much power in their hands, and acted accordingly. A group of men under no jurisdiction who don’t look for the best location for the worlds greatest international stage, but look for an eager country with the best profit levels. Is it a surprise that Russia and Qatar are two of the richest countries in the world? Is it a surprise that Russia and Qatar have the strictest(by a very large margin) national media of all the bidding nations? No, it isn’t. In fact the only surprise really should be why we didn’t expect this.
The media quite rightfully turned on its heels and ran with the corruption stories. To loose was one thing, but by so little, was something entirely different. England where promised 6 votes, and walked out with 2, one of which was from Geoff Thompson. All of a sudden, we got simultaneous stories of rigged votes and Sepp Blatter comments about the ‘evil of the media‘ that not even Becks, Cameron, Prince Harry and the best ‘technical bid’ could convince him and his friends to forget the cold words said on Sunday.
Although there was a mood that’s best described , oddly, as patriotic that overcame England afterwards, a country that was so used to coming back from tournaments and waiting till they got in the front door before they began to blame each other. Was now standing by its values and realised that it had the moral high ground. The country should certainly be proud of the fact that its media outlets refused to back down from the truth with such a prize at stake.
Regardless of whether or not Blatter does actually have any intention of promoting the sport for any reason besides making cash, it is doing nothing more than de-centralising the sport from its foundations. The foundation of course being its fans. Promoting the theme of modern football, ‘how much can we alienate ourselves from the very people who matter.’ Another thing to add to the long list of problems in modern football: Inflated season tickets, unrealistic player wages, Wayne Rooney, debt, and now we have a World Cup that isn’t actually a World Cup, as much as it is now just a commercial road show where Sepp gets to bid off the tournament, regardless of the setting.
Perhaps we should tone the bitterness down a little though, at least in the direction of Russia. To an extent, this country do have a legitimate claim to host the tournament, if not more so than England. Russian football has benefited tremendously since the country opened up to the world a decade or two ago and has been on a steady progression ever since. The domestic league now finds itself circling the outer ring of top European football, just waiting for a nudge to be thrown straight in amongst the best on the continent, this World Cup may well do it for them regardless of whether that was FIFA’s intention or not.
On the other hand, we have a Qatar bid that most are able to see right through. Unlike the Russian bid, Qatar is a country with very little football history and with a population of 1.6 million. What no doubt angers fans of the game the most, is that this country will struggle to make any great dent in world football despite the lavish opportunity FIFA have given them. When countries such as the United States, Australia and the joint Japan/South Korea are screaming out for investment in their moderately sized leagues that are just crammed full of potential. (In fact I wrote an article about Australia’s need for this bid here.)
This bid will help build Restaurants and Hotels and an impressive holiday experience in time for 2022, not stadia, parks and football institutions. In fact the stadiums wont even be there for the few honest footballing fans in the country to enjoy, once the tournament has been and passed, it was announced at the bid ceremony that the ‘genius’ behind the plan is to build these stadiums, and then pass them on to the next host country. But wait Sepp, isn’t the whole point of the World Cup in these new foreign lands, so that we can help them build up there infrastructure and their domestic league’s?
Partner that with recent rumours that the Tournament will have to take place in January or February to avoid the impossible heat, and you can easy tell that this bid did not have the World Cup’s best interests at heart. Sepp’s golden plan to disguise his money-making machine with an ambitious made up dream of ‘spreading the sport’ to the four corners of the world was finally uncovered on Thursday afternoon when he and his merry gang of crooks sold football down the river.