THE HALF DECENT FOOTBALL MAGAZINE

3 December ~ It’s impossible for any country to become a World Cup host without demeaning itself. Perhaps that’s true of any election – the more votes you need, the more you need to appeal to constituencies with different, and perhaps contradictory, interests. But it should be much less true of a World Cup bid, in which there are only 24 votes up for grabs (give or take one or two unfortunate disqualifications) and in theory everyone’s interests are the same: to stage a successful tournament.

Most criteria can be assessed objectively: the quality of stadiums, security, transport and hotels; the strength of political support; the potential for making money; the state of each country’s football development. Only a few qualities are somewhat intangible: how a World Cup might feel outside the stadiums; how its host or the region might benefit after the tournament; how it might further FIFA’s long-term goals (however they are defined).

The stench surrounding the 2018/2022 process was notable only for the fact that specific allegations of corruption were made before the vote. Everyone believes this is how FIFA’s business is always run, it’s just the names and the details that are new. But even allowing for that, two aspects of this week’s vote are troubling – one serious, one apparently trivial.

The first is that a bid as manifestly inadequate as Qatar’s was able to succeed. FIFA has made itself a laughing stock in choosing a country with such a tiny population, almost no stadiums, totally unsuitable climate and all but no football tradition. The other 2022 bidders spent years trying to persuade executive committee members not to vote for it. If FIFA seriously wanted to clean up the process, it could start by eliminating bids that are clearly technically inadequate – much as the IOC has done with the Olympics. Similarly it should rule that no country can stage the tournament twice within a certain number of years – perhaps 20. That would have saved Japan and Korea a lot of worthless effort.

If that sounds like special pleading for Australia’s 2022 bid, perish the thought. It had good claims, but the need to propose several huge oval stadiums that are alien to the needs of football deservedly ruled it out. (Though of course it seems unlikely the decision hinged on such a practical issue.) What’s more, Australia were, as usual, gross offenders in the second farcical aspect of the vote – the carefully crafted appeal to millions of people who had no influence on its outcome.

It’s hard to know what you should put in a 30-minute multimedia presentation shown the day before the vote, and equally hard to know why FIFA demands such tripe. At that stage, what could possibly persuade one of the 22 voters who has spent several years in careful deliberation? Tricky as it may be, I feel sure the answer is not an animated kangaroo bounding around “iconic” tourist destinations with a “stolen” World Cup. Nor is likely that the virtual presence of Mark Webber, Paul Hogan, Hugh Jackman, Cate Blanchett or Ian Thorpe would swing the decision. If it did, FIFA has even more problems than we thought. Mike Ticher

Comments (19)
Comment by Arthur Nibble 2010-12-03 12:55:37

Another great job done by Septic Bladder and his mates. Wouldn't surprise me if he decided to design the Qatar mascot himself, giving it an oil rig for the body and a teatowel-topped football for the head. Am I the only one who thinks he looks and acts likes the incompetent general in 'Allo Allo'?

Ironic, though, that we went in six short minutes from the failure of our bid, which featured a stadium in a town with absolutely no football tradition, to the next tournament being handed to an entire country with absolutely no footballing tradition - a nation who recently persuaded Kenyan athletes to change nationality in an attempt to glean some Olympic medals (yes, I know we did it with Zola Budd - irony again).

If only the millions spent on England's failed bid had been used wisely, to develop grass roots football or a decent youth / international set-up here. Sadly, just as likely as FIFA giving us the nod yesterday.

Comment by PRB 2010-12-03 13:41:48

For me it wasn't so much about who won, but how it was won - or lost for that matter. If the vote was close I'd have no issue, but that England, who were reported to have one of the best and most expensive bids and came out top in the technical report, only managed 2 votes says something. Something about the attitudes within Fifa towards English football. Is it jealous towards how big the game is in England, or fear towards a free-press in England that persuaded them to stay away from them and hand to to nations that come well in the bottom half of the free-press index table?

I'm not English myself, but it'll now be 64-years at least between World Cups for them and for a country which gives so much to World football be it through its domestic product or whatever, isn't on. Fifa might love the idea of expanding its horizons, but they shouldn't forget about the traditional markets either. By the time 2022 rolls round 4 of 6 World Cups will have been in non-traditional markets.

Anyway, I could go on for a while but that wouldn't be fair to the comments section! I did go on for a while over on my blog, so anyone interested can take a read: http://www.prbsports.com/archive/3495

Comment by Lincoln 2010-12-03 13:53:21

Can only agree with that last post, it is not who got it so much has they go it that has begun to make me turn away from football. If the world cup is to be used as a way to develop football in certain places, why bother with the whole process of asking people to bid? One might cynically suggest it is because the 22 men on the board can get something out of it for their nation. We would have been best to have sat out of it and had our member who can vote sit back and take as many bribes in the form of help for the national centre etc that he could take. As we did with Thailand and giving them an English coach. We could have got Qatar to sponsor Child's football coaches so it is paid work rather than voluntary.
For Australia specifically, if you can change your country's time zone then you have a chance. FIFA would never risk going so far out in terms of time zone for the European TV market, not until the Asian one is more profitable.

Comment by FCKarl 2010-12-03 14:41:22

It is a shame that there is not now a FIFA World Cup in the planning for England in 2018 and the USA or Australia for 2022. Maybe Belgium-Netherlands, but the passion of the game in GB is unparalleled. (Only idea: I would have included Cardiff and Glasgow as host cities) There cannot be passion for the game in Russia because the sport is fundamentally an outdoor sport. And that is not possible in Russia for most of the year. More importantly, the IOC and FIFA and UEFA need to never award world sporting events to dictatorships. And that is what Russia is today. No free press. State run media. Journalists shot dead on a regular basis. Organized crimed rules with the blessing of the paid-off state leadership. And now they have fraudulently won both a Winter Games in Sochi 2014 and this World Cup 2018.


Only the old, fat, totally-out-of-shape and sorts FIFA execs chould have topped that laugher by naming Qatar as 2022 host. I see even if somehow they magically produce a climate controlled pitch that helps cool temperatures by a few degrees...somehow fans before, during, and after the game won't expire in the heat? Somehow everyone will have the kind of grand outdoor picnic that a World Cup is supposed to be in the streets, parks, sidewalks, and byways. No way. Fans will be sequestered in their cheap air conditioned hotel rooms hugging the AC machines and recovering from heat exhaustion.

Didn't I read somewhere that outdoor labor is banned in Qatar in June and July? (for good reason, you cannot even breathe)

Great place for a SPORTING event in high summer. The only activity everyone wants to do is sit in the bathtub and drink well-iced beverages. Not to mention that you'll have tens of thousands of fans milling about wondering what the heck they're supposed to be doing on the off-game days.

Time zones don't matter anymore. World Cup South Africa only underscored this. Watch live on your mobile phone if you must. Otherwise you can wait and watch the full match -- in full length -- provided by your service provider whenever you feel like it. Nobody under age 45 much cares anymore about sitting through a whole match on a view screen unless you know it is worth watching. So the time difference can actually be an advantage.

Comment by FCKarl 2010-12-03 14:52:36

I just really am tired of oppressive throwback dictatorships getting honored by feckless, flunky functionaries at FIFA and the IOC.

Russia today still is part of that old USSR evil empire. The core believers and those at the top have not changed.

Any parent worldwide could probably see off his 19 or 20 year old lad and wish him and his pals well as they do the trip of a lifetime to England to see World Cup 2018 live. That same parent -- if he is a real parent -- has grave reservations about that same lad talking plans for Russia 2018.

Why?

I think we all know. Russia overall and specifically their leaders cannot be trusted. They are still light years from being a decent, upstanding society.

But we just get to visit for 2 or 3 weeks. 75 million Russians live still under the jackboot of an unjust way of life.

Comment by The Exploding Vole 2010-12-03 14:55:21

More, too, needs to be made of the guarantees FIFA insist of the host nation(s). You know, stuff like restricting workers' rights, waiving visa and border restrictions, clamping down on unfavourable press reports, etc.

And it should be made clear how much tax FIFA are paying to the host nation(s) on the income they make from the tournament ...

Comment by English Republic 2010-12-03 15:25:59

FCKarl,

Agree with much of what you say regarding the whole decision making process but I think the inclusion of Glasgow and Cardiff and therefore making our bid a three way joint bid would have been kicked out quicker than the sole bid made by England to be fair. Maybe a joint bid with either Scotland or Wales may have been possible but as I understand it aren't joint bids being discouraged now?

Comment by Lincoln 2010-12-03 15:48:44

Some reasonable points Karl but can't abide the one about waiting to see if a game is worth watching before watching it. Is that what football has become? In addition I would want to watch all games after the group for reasons other than just how the game went, the drama and ramifications. Can't imagine watching the world cup final at 9am, 4 hours after it finished at my convenience and then going off into the streets to party with people after England won it.

Comment by sepps bladder 2010-12-03 16:41:24

If the Thorpedo can't secure the bid, then what use is there trying??

Comment by Duncan Gardner 2010-12-03 18:27:25

"I'm not English myself, but it'll now be 64-years at least between World Cups for them and for a country which gives so much to World football be it through its domestic product or whatever, isn't on"

A bit melodramatic. England had the Euros only 14 years ago, and there'll likely be another soon. Especially with the daft expansion to 24 teams.

"but the passion of the game in GB is unparalleled"

No it isn't. Germany sold out most games in 2006, but many games at Euro 96 played in half-empty stadia. Bundesliga crowds aren't far behind the Premiership's.

Comment by Red Adder 2010-12-03 19:17:22

I used to think that the FA were very blinkered when they pretty much kept out of FIFA until after WWII - now I do wonder if they were right. Suggest that we don't bother bidding again, but wait until on of FIFAs more obscure selections goes tits up and offer to fill the breach. I can also see several players trying hard NOT to qualify for Qatar 2022 - better than a career/lif threatening brush with heat stroke.

Comment by Tubbsy 2010-12-03 20:08:28

We're best out of it. The whole process is tainted, anyone winning the vote will be painted the same colour. Until FIFA is more like a body run for the good of the game, instead of for the well-being of a few rich old farts, we should have as little to do with it as possible. Let someone else pick up the bill, our chances of winning anything won't change. The fact that the admitted bill, for just bidding, is over £15m, is firstly obscene, but more importantly, begs the question of just who benefitted, financially, from that 'investment'. The farce of the visits to stadia, viability asssessments, etc, smacked of the sort of 'consultation process' we've become used to from various governments, local authorities & big businesses recently (done all the expensive surveys & studies expected of us - then gone ahead & ignored them).
Don't even get me started on their contempt for the supporters, we're just there to add to the audiovisual spectacle. A good point was made earlier about parents sending their offspring to a World Cup. I wonder just where in the worldwide 'murder league' South Africa, Brazil & Russia fit. Still if you're in the top hotels, eating in the best restaurants, limousined everywhere, with the best seats guaranteed for every game, why would what goes on in the streets bother you?
It's not the peoples game anymore & until football begins to change, from the top down, who cares?

Comment by rojosal 2010-12-04 05:58:00

Although as others have stated, the temperature in June/July, the population of under 2 million, six stadia in Doha (and Groups A through F will be based in... drum roll...) and all within a 60km radius, no football or any other sporting tradition etc are all good reasons why the decision is terrible, Qatar should have been excluded for a) being the disgusting name of a 'disorder of inflammation of the mucous membranes' (as famously sung about by George Harrison in his 'While My Qatar Gently Weeps') but also b) for ignoring international convention and failing to insert a 'U' after the 'Q'. (Iraq should also be excluded from future bids for the same reason). The education of generations of school children around the world could be impacted; does FIFA not feel any responsibility to them, or indeed to the Qeen?

Comment by Trebor 2010-12-04 11:21:29

The FA is a farce (stuck in the past, money obsessed and under the thumb of the Premier League), the bid was a farce (including Milton Keynes while running on a "the country united" slogan?!), and FIFA is a farce (corrupt, self-interested, nothing to do with football).

Most of modern football is a farce. End of. Fact.

Comment by Duncan Gardner 2010-12-04 19:26:57

"A good point was made earlier about parents sending their offspring to a World Cup. I wonder just where in the worldwide 'murder league' South Africa, Brazil & Russia fit"

It would be an even stronger point if you'd actually said where they all fitted in the Worldwide murder stats.

Back in 1979, my parents very generously sent me (aged 17) on a school trip to the Soviet Union. Encouragingly, not one of us was murdered, although the teacher in charge got so drunk on ginger-flavored Stolichnaya that myself and another sixth former had to carry him off the Krasnaya Strela (Moscow- Leningrad night train).

Comment by ChrisBud 2010-12-06 09:30:43

Duncan Gardner: "Bundesliga crowds aren't far behind the Premiership's"

On the contrary, they are actually far ahead: average attendance this season according to ESPN is 35 002 in the EPL, and 42,199 in Germany. This is reflected over the last few years as well.

Anyone who has been to a game in the Bundesliga would not suggest that the passion in England was greater (although I know you were agreeing with this point).

Comment by Coral 2010-12-06 14:03:13

So Germany with a bigger population, and as a more affluent population has more people attending than England? There's a shock. I suppose their minor leagues are as well supported as ours...

Comment by ChrisBud 2010-12-06 15:38:23

I don't know, you tell me. Although I was at an amateur game last weekend in Germany in front of 2300 fans, around 300 of whom were away fans, which I thought was pretty impressive. The passion displayed by the fans and overall matchday experience certainly compares more than favourably to the UK, whether in the Premiership or in the lower leagues.

Your point about affluence (if accurate) is neither here nor there since football in Germany still at least pretends to be interested in the fans, unlike in the UK, and there are significant proportions of cheap standing tickets for all games.

The fact remains that Germany put on a successful tournament which England failed to do before them, and that Bundesliga crowds are some 20% higher than those in the Premiership contrary to the original point.

Comment by FCKarl 2010-12-06 18:10:23

The England Euro 1996 was a very successful tournament. It completely rejuvenated a UEFA men's tournament that was turning sour, getting dull. Sweden's Euro 1992 was definintely too expensive for the real football fan and completely lacked atmosphere with such tiny stadia. Addtionally, the Euro 1996 in England was the first to feature the expanded UEFA field of 16 national sides. So the English, as hosts for 1996, were breaking new ground. And did a good job. "Football did come home" and fans from everywhere appreciated it very much.

(And it was the first time that I witnessed Yanks in droves somehow dodging their jobs and workplaces to assemble in soccer bars and restaurants to watch at 2 p.m. New York City and 1 p.m. Chicago times.)

Although many a football fan could have lived with Netherlands-Belgium or Spain-Portugal for 2018, most everyone was really rooting for England to host a big tournament again.

Who doesn't want a really good excuse to come see a big match in the New Wembley? Hey, they'd probably be using the new London Olympics stadium, right? Why not go see it? Or maybe the New Anfield?

And, let's face it, you could do 1,000 things (not really, but you'd want to) in London on the days where there is no match or you "take a break" from it.

And...a very significant fact for "older" footy-mad men: How difficult is it to persuade the wife of a 8 - 10 day jaunt to Merry Ole England? (Yes, you're thinking a match live in the "Theatre of Dreams," she's thinking a musical in Covent Garden after Harrod's and a quick trip around Trafalgar Square and Picadilly.) This is a no-brainer. You can convince her of the "true wisdom" of this international excursion and all its expenses because it is WORTH IT. (With the kids! Think about it! Such an educational opportunity for young minds in the land of Canterbury, Dover, Leeds, Notts (I mean Nottingham) Forrest, and Stratford-upon-Avon, important habor cities like Liverpool....yes?!!!)

A family full-package tour to expand horizons, see the great museums, walk where history took place, see the grand Cathedrals, jest with the Beafeaters, smell the air blowing off the Channel....What wife and mother could say no?

Yes, when older yet still a football-disease-afflicted male, one must employ this kind of strategic 'Beautiful Game scheming' if you want to enjoy any hopes of again being present -- in the stands -- for the Cup.

As the man of the family, you can do this for England 2018 without even trying. Much tougher for Russia 2018 (with the exceptions of St. Pete and Mokba). Impossible to do Qatar. And, frankly, not easy to do for South Africa 2010.

To the Brits reading here, the rest of us were rooting for England 2018 with another classic (New) Wembley Final. Please keep your plans at the ready. Perhaps Russia will continue to sink in its own daily corruption and vices. We may still need you in 7.5 years time. So many 'round the globe would be happy if FIFA were forced to reverse its inane decision.

WSC Staff: Please stay on this story. Don't let the FIFA fat men off the hook. This is corrupt. We should know who and how they voted. Journalists need to do the work that no "independent inquiry" will ever do. These two decisions last Thursday reek. Football lost; we all lost.

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