This year, Mrs P and I have been particularly good cinema customers over the last year. We both enjoyed Gary Oldman’s version of Winston Churchill. I had my doubts about the casting of wirey, high pitched Oldman. But he pulled it off, then some. Worthy of an Oscar? Definitely. We watched the Post, which many people have referred to as the prequel to All The Presidents Men. Has Tom Hanks ever made a bad movie? I mean, a real stinker? I can’t think of one. I’m also currently watching the sequel, being played out in episodes each night on the news. It may end up being called All The Presidents Russians. We’ll see.
Fools Idiots Fuckwits and Arseholes. Pardon the language, but you know what I’m talking about. It was the most suitable acronym I could come up with at short notice. Needless to say I have a few thought about how this mornings vote for the 2018 and 2022 hosts went. I had previously, in the comments on one of my recent posts, queried the ethics of a secret vote.
FIFA has long been known to be a corrupt little club of tin pot dictators. This morning they added further evidence of that. The organisation doesn’t simply need to be cleansed, but closed and replaced with a more open, transparent and representative body. There should be more voters for a start. The Olympic hosts are chosen by a body of some 150 voters, not 24. Or 22, due to the suspension of two FIFA officials for corruption. And each person who has the privilege of casting a vote should be obliged to reveal who they voted for and why.
It has to be said, they may have voted for Russia and Qatar because they believed them to be the best bids. But we’ll never know if there was more to it than that, and have no way of investigating the matter. It could be found in future that a voter had received a dodgy payment, but without knowing which way he voted, there is no final proof. Only suggestive evidence. The fact the England’s bid finished fourth out of four is suggestive evidence in my opinion.
Were Russia and Qatar the best bids? From an environmental point of view, they were both, without any room for argument, the worst options. Not only does Russia need to build almost all their stadiums, but also airports. And the travel between venues is going to leave a high carbon footprint.
As for Qatar. I always thought that was a nasty bit of mucous you get in your nose and thoat when you are sick. But anyway, it turns out they are a country, and they also need to get busy stadium building. Indoor, air conditioned stadium building. The other thing both countries have in common? Corruption. They are arguably the two most corrupt nations of all the bidding entries. Russia has recently been labelled a ‘mafia state‘. It’s all coincidence, I’m sure.
I’ve had to look up info on Qatar, because beyond being aware that it lies somewhere in the Middle East, I know nothing of it. Wealthy they are. But small. A total population of just over one and a half million. The biggest city has less than a million people. The sixth biggest, less than 10,000. And they’ve been given a World Cup? What are they going to do with all the stadiums afterwards? Where’s the legacy? Ridiculous. Farcical.
Qatar, whilst being one of the more liberal Mid East states, still has the death penalty on its books, has a form of Shari’a law, supports Iran’s nuclear program, operates a legalised form of slavery and gay football fans might not be too keen on visiting – they may not leave for five years after the tournament has finished. But they do permit women to drive.
I don’t begrudge Russia winning the vote at all, although Qatar is another matter entirely. Everyone wants to host the World Cup, but only one country every four years can do so. I’m sure they will host a great tournament. What I do begrudge is the process. The corruption. The farce. FIFA.
I can choose to not pay a penny for anything that FIFA takes a cut of. That’s how capitalism is supposed to work. I couldn’t vote this morning. But I can vote tomorrow and every day after that. With my wallet. Except…when you look at this bid video from Russia of their stadia…you do kinda want to go.
The Qatari bid video seems to suggest that they need the World Cup because, quite frankly, their television reception is crap and the only way they’ll get to see a World Cup is by hosting one. I’m surprised their bid opponents didn’t mention that their nicest stadium is in fact a replica of Noah’s Ark from the Bible. That would have had the Qatari religious police pulling the plug on the project pretty quick, I’m sure!
The last point I will make is that my animosity is aimed at a handful of fools, idiots, fuckwits and arseholes. I’ll bet the ordinary people of Russia and Qatar are feeling over the moon right now, and are looking forward to their moment, just as I would have been. And I can’t begrudge them that. I’m sure both countries will put on a show, and Russia in particular is a country whose size and football passion deserves a World Cup.
Thursday is a big day. One of the biggest days of my life. In the top 20 anyway. On Thursday, in Zurich, FIFA will announce who will host the 2018 World Cup. England are one of the four candidates, and one of three who have a genuine chance of winning – the Holland/Belgium bid is very much an outsider.
If England were to win it would be the first time in more than 50 years since the world’s biggest sporting event has returned to the birthplace of the game. If we lose, I would be in my 50’s before another chance came around. It’s a big day.
England have been big favourites to win the hosting rights for most of the bidding process. FIFA have previously stated that joint bids, such as the Holland/Belgium and Spain/Portugal bids, were not favoured. The other candidate, Russia, has serious issues. Not least because of the logistics of hosting an event over such a huge area. There’s also the issue of stadiums – Russia will need to build 13 of them from scratch. England, on the other hand, could host the tournament tomorrow.
And yet, as the final vote draws near, England’s chances have slipped. Why? Because English reporters identified a number of corrupt FIFA officials, two of whom had voting rights. They correctly identified them – six members were suspended. Were FIFA grateful to have the bad eggs fingered?
Nope. They were forced to go through the process of suspensions of the members involved, but are furious that the English media put them in the spotight in the first place. Statements have filtered out that the revelations have harmed England’s candidacy. A strange reaction – unless they are all corrupt. One is left to assume they are. And England’s bid now hangs in the balance.
FIFA aren’t fit to run a sport. But such is life. One can only hope that the voting members remember that their duty is to cast their ballot for the best bid, and not the bid that put most cash in their pocket. And that they remember that votes shouldn’t be cast to spite a few individuals, but for the joy of an entire population.
Spain and Portugal, I know, would love to host the event. But should such a massive event with massive costs be given to two members of the PIGS, who may (will probably) need bailing out by other EU members in the not so distant future. That would be galling – for the English taxpayer to effectively be paying Spain to host the World Cup.
England’s bid video is below. But there are other videos worth watching. An unofficial England bid video is pretty funny. Finally, the one bit of hope we have – Paul the Octopus, may he rest in peace, selected England as the winners of the hosting competition before he popped his
clogs suckers. Come on England!
England might have won, but the atmosphere at Wembley, and in the cantina in Mexico City I had stationed myself at, wasn’t….well, as ‘hooligany’ as many Mexicans might have expected. We do still have a reputation. Still. At every football match I ever go to, or Lucha Libre for that matter….or whenever the subject of football comes up – I’ll be called a ‘Hoooooligan’! In good humour. I think.
There are far, far worst countries around the world for hooliganism these days. Not that there aren’t incidents at matches in England, but not anything near as bad as they used to be. Is it worse in Mexico? Well Pumas fans can get a bit wild. And when Americas play away, it’s not unusual for a few chicken feet to fly around. But I’ve never witnessed any real trouble. Just good humour. And bad language. Of course. Going to a football game is a great way to expand your vocabulary.
But back to Mexico and England. I found some photos on England’s ‘Back The Bid’ Facebook page. With Santo in our corner, how can we lose? I’d love the World Cup to come to England in 2018. Viva Inglaterra!!!!