Former head coach of the England football team, Terry Venables in his column in The Sun newspaper called “a disgrace” the decision to give FIFA 2018 World Cup in Russia. According to Venables FIFA and the KGB are just about the last two secret organisations on the planet (in fact, the KGB was dismantled in December 1991, approx.).
Because when it comes to a political intrigue, espionage and a good old-fashioned bit of cloak and dagger, those in charge of football’s governing body would certainly give Russia’s secret service a run for their money.
How else do you explain yesterday’s announcement in Zurich?
If you had given the script to the director of the new James Bond movie, he would have turned it down and accused it of being too far-fetched.
England beat The Living Daylights out of their rival bids, but were still met by Dr No.
And, if we’re being honest, unjust.
We not only best met all of FIFA’s critieria for the bid, we also jumped through their hoops, bent over backwards and went way above and beyond the call of duty in an effort to bring the World Cup to our shores for the first time since 1966.
Having previously received a rap across the knuckles from Jack Warner for being “too lightweight” and “not showbizzy enough”, our future King and the Prime Minister were among the dignitaries who cleared their hectic diaries and overcame the Arctic conditions to travel to Switzerland to put our case to FIFA’s executive committee.
And still it was not enough.
In fact, Prince William and David Cameron might as well have stayed at home because in the end it was clear Sepp Blatter and co had already made up their minds.
And did they back what was by far the best bid in front of them? The one that matched all the criteria? The one that would deliver the best World Cup? The one that was totally assured? The one that could, if asked, put on a finals tomorrow?
Instead they chose the country, whose Prime Minister Vladimir Putin did not even travel to Zurich for the vote.
So much for backing his bid.
Maybe he knew it was already in the bag.
Well his decision not to attend the vote is almost as bizarre as FIFA’s decision to give 2018 to Russia over England.
FIFA led us to believe the bidding countries would be judged on things like stadiums, IT networks, transport links, hotels, training facilities and communications.
That was clearly not so. After all, who in their right mind would score Russia above England in any of those categories? To do so, would be farcical, as anybody who has ever been beyond the old Iron Curtain would tell you.
Once again we were led up the garden path.
Annoyingly, not only did we have the best bid, we also had the best presentation.
Yet all we returned home with was a certificate from FIFA.
Against all the ethics of the beautiful game, on this occasion it appears the best was not good enough – and nor was it ever going to be.
Had the decision been based solely on the bid, we would have undoubtedly won. But it clearly was not.
The bleeding heart liberals in Zurich, like they did with South Africa 2010, opted for legacy over logistics.
Nothing wrong with that, just tell us before we waste all that time and money compiling a bid.
Russia has never staged a World Cup before.
And while the head nation of the former Soviet Union would undoubtedly benefit from the legacy of hosting football’s biggest showpiece tournament, they have so much work to do to turn their country into one able to do so.
If the aim by FIFA all along was to give 2018 to a nation that had never held a World Cup before then fine.
I just wished they would have told us and the FA at the outset. It would have saved us £15 million and a lot of heartache.
Instead, the selection process became a charade – in fact a complete and utter sham.
England never got the 2018 World Cup, because we were never going to get it.
It was what the French speakers in Zurich call a ‘fait accompli’.
And thanks to FIFA’s secret agents we may never know exactly why we were refused the chance to host the tournament.
I only know it is a great shame.
A shame for England.
A shame for football.
And shame on FIFA.
- World Cup 2018 in Russia, 2022 in Qatar (newsamen.com)