I was intrigued by the FIFA WC ’18 and ‘22 being awarded to Russia and Qatar – but what was most disturbing was the sense of “entitlement” expressed by the UK and USA Bid contingents and their media after the announcements – as if the bid was rightfully theirs and it was snatched from their ordained hands. (But then, why am I surprised?)
It seems England’s World Cup bidders are totally “blinded by a deluded sense of their own majesty” as is evidenced in the statements after the bid went to Russia:
David Cameron, the PM: ‘I don’t know exactly how (the voting) worked but I can only say sometimes in life, the best team doesn’t necessarily win.’
Just because he says it, does it become the best team? In fact, England only received TWO of a possible 22 votes in the FIFA committee executive’s secret ballot – 12 were needed to win a majority, but England did not make it through the first round of voting. They had actually won 6 votes in the first round when they had bid for the 2006 World Cup. So, this bid wasn’t even better than the 2006 bid, to put it very simplistically.
Former England captain, Alan Shearer: ‘You have to think that if we couldn’t get it this time, when are we going to get it?’ – leaving many there wondering ‘whether the country will ever stage a World Cup in their lifetime’.
Didn’t England host the World Cup in 1966 – the only instance of England reaching and winning the finals (on a contentious goal)? With a country steeped in history and proud of it, it’s surprising how they can conveniently display selective amnesia to justify their gripe.
Richard Scudamore, the Premier League chief executive: “It almost feels they’ve got us on standby for when someone suddenly can’t host it. But on that basis we might never get it.”
Boris Johnson, London mayor, spoke of the need for reform at FIFA. Sour grapes, perhaps. Probably the very recent hooliganism and violence by fans at Birmingham’s Carling Cup match with Aston Villa might have been a factor against England’s bid. Is anyone talking about reforming that?
The US bidding committee members seem to have their heads further in the ground.
Sunil Gulati, the U.S. Soccer president: “We knew that going in, which explains some of the odd vote patterns in our case. It’s politics, it’s friendships and relationships, it’s alliances, it’s tactics. There are far too many permutations, especially with two World Cups being decided on the same day, and I am not smart enough to figure out how all those played out in these two elections.” (Italics for emphasis)
Our man seems to be oozing a sense of righteousness and innocence – Mr. Gulati should well remember the Indian proverb about the “cat on its way to the Haj”
Listing the “reasons why US deserves Cup bid”, the New York Metro says “the national team’s success in South Africa could help the US land the World Cup”. Duh, since when did we start rewarding mediocrity?
“Soccer is at an all-time high in America and it should be rewarded” Football will not even rank in the top 6-7 sports followed by the Americans, probably coming in even behind lacrosse. MLS surely is the go-to league for geriatric football stars to cash in their pensions and retirement benefits.
President Obama said Thursday that FIFA got it wrong in awarding Qatar the 2022 World Cup rather than the United States. Obama said he was confident the U.S. team would make it to the finals wherever the contest. Need I say any more? Did his misplaced optimism also contribute to Chicago losing the Olympic bid?
FIFA really wanted was to bestow its greatest gift not upon the rich, smug and famous but open up vast new frontiers for the global game. That was why the World Cup went to south-east Asia, then Africa. And now open new goldmines in post-Soviet republics and in the Gulf oil states.
Specifically in Qatar’s case, its ‘Money Talks and Bullshit walks’. The shoe is on the other foot now – and someone with deeper pockets has snatched away the bids.
It’s no longer US-UK’s god-given birthright. UK and USA need to align to the new realities – the World Cup bid is just one of the many road signs on the path to a world away from the US-UK hegemony.