As strap lines go, it’s a doozie. But can you name me one person in the whole world who believes it? Nah. If you crossed out the last word and substituted the words “the guys’ bank accounts” it might be a little closer to the actual truth.
Anyway I was reassured to see that Roger Burden, the acting chairman of the FA has withdrawn his candidacy for the full time role beacause he couldn’t stand to spend the next few years of his life working with the likes of Blatter and the other lying, cheating ExCo members of FIFA. It might have been an idea for the England Bid team to have taken a similar stance when the Sunday Times corruption article came out, but we didn’t and Anson and Dein continued to kowtow to the FIFA fatcats, dragging the future King, the PM and Lord Beckham of Beckingham along with them.
I don’t think many people have come out well from this whole sorry saga. It is even reported that the American delegate of the Concacaf coven failed to vote for the USA as the host venue for 2022, preferring instead to opt for Qatar and its rich footballing heritage. Umm. By doing so he managed to humiliate the American Bid team (including former President Clinton as its star spokesperson) even more than the English team, which took some doing. Chuck Blazer is his name and his probable destiny.
I think it’s now pretty clear that Russia and Qater have used every bit of leverage that appeals to the FIFA felons to secure the World Cup nominations. What was fabulously rich Abramovitch, who does as his puppetmaster Putin says to retain his wealth and freedom, doing on the Russian Bid team do you think? Giving advice on how to build subterranean nightclubs? I think not. And all those stunning models/pole-vaulters. Presumably their insight on the new off-side laws was what those old goats on the voting panel were looking for. Putin knew he’d secured that 2018 decision – and who doesn’t now realise that he was the real leader of the Russian Bid – some time before the Zurich farago was played out on TV to the world. Nor did I notice a look of total surprise on the faces of the oil-megarich Qataris when their name showed up on the card in the envelope. Umm. Certainly not as shocked as the look on the faces of the Americans and the Australians who both had almost perfect cases for hosting the 2022 event. And what had Qatar going for it other than unbearable heat, no infrastructure, no stadia, nothing for fans to do, an oppressive regime and no footballing heritage at all? Buckets of oil money.
I did think our Bid was flawed; Lord Triesman was a dreadful appointee. They also made the mistake of exactly following the model of the successful 2012 Olympic Bid by employing people like Lord Coe, Sir Keith Mills, the Prime Minister even David Beckham in high profile roles on the team, simply because it had worked before. Now these people are excellent but it looked like we hadn’t moved on nor that we understood that whilst the Olympics had largely cleaned up its selection procedures, FIFA’s World Cup Bidding was still run as a bent beauty contest. The one guy we didn’t use from the Olympic bid team was the communications expert Mike Lee who I can attest is vain and egotistical but boy does he know how to handle a PR/lobbying campaign (I hear he worked on the Qatar Bid – need I say more?). It wasn’t until late in the process that real street-wise football men like Dein were brought onto the England team, but by then it was probably too late. Our lot were still being seduced by the wise counsel of Jack Warner who urged us to inject more glamour/celebrity into the Bid. Didn’t we know that in FIFA ExCo-speak he meant bucks not Beckham?
And so it’s time to move on. I said earlier we should leave FIFA and set up a rival body and tournaments with other disaffected associations. That isn’t likely to happen but the FA should do everything in its power to undermine that little gruppenfuhrer and bring about essential change so that the world and football fans everywhere get the FIFA that actually lives up to its slogan.