Bobby Hare ponders the failed 2018 World Cup bid and subsequent fall out.
After my initial indignation over England’s failure to land the World Cup had subsided, it dawned upon me that we have absolutely no grounds for complaint.
The qualms of many a fan and journalist are rooted in the notion that Fifa is a corrupt and shady organisation. Many have railed against the alleged collusion that went on during the voting process, whilst there is a widespread feeling that both Russia and Qatar have, with the aid of a number of brown paper bags, essentially bought their right to host the tournament.
The acting FA Chairman, Roger Burnden, has withdrawn his application to take up the post on a full time basis in protest, citing that he is unprepared to liaise with Fifa and “deal with people whom [he] cannot trust.” Oh, how noble and principled of you Roger. Further to this, Andy Anson, the bid’s Chief Executive, has jumped on the bandwagon, stating that football’s governing body needs to undergo serious reform. This represents quite a climb down from the man who, prior to the announcement, branded any questioning of Fifa’s dealings as “unpatriotic.”
Of course, much of the negative publicity surrounding Fifa has been created by BBC’s Panorama investigation, which accused four of the body’s executive committee members of corruption. In turn, a large proportion of the English population has reacted angrily towards the media, accusing them of self-interest and consequently derailing the bid.
Hold on a minute. So on the one hand, we’re railing against Fifa and their corrupt ways? They need to clean their act up and be made more transparent? Yet at the same time, we’re peeved with our media for pointing out that Fifa are, erm, corrupt? Eh? A common retort has been that whilst there was nothing wrong with the BBC exposing Fifa for what it really is, they should have waited until the bidding process was complete before airing it. Is it just me, or is this the highest form of hypocrisy? To all intents and purposes, it seems that we would have been happy to sweep Fifa’s indiscretions under the carpet, so long as it had been us celebrating at the end of this ridiculously convoluted process.
Following the decision, England’s complaints and protestations are coming across as awfully hollow and, no doubt, other footballing nations will be casting contemptuous glances in our direction and muttering “more sour grapes and whinging from the little islanders.” Many find it morally repugnant that the bidding process required us to flatter the judges in order to win their votes. Surely the fact that Fifa’s (evidently pointless) technical committee deemed England’s bid to be the best across the board should have been the decisive issue? Yet despite us bemoaning the X-Factor style auditioning process, we still sent over the A-Team to help with the buttering up. Essentially, we were party to the sham.
I’m not actually one of those individuals who’s annoyed or shocked at the idea of having to go and lobby for support. After all, it’s something that happens in the world of politics on a daily basis. On a micro level, I’m sure everyone will have made a “you scratch my back, I’ll scratch yours” sort of bargain at some stage. It’s called relationship building, which is a key component of human nature.
And that is where England’s bid has likely failed. We’ve always been a nation with a natural superiority complex; remote and rather detached from the rest. We’re a distant relative who regards himself more highly than all of his family. The morning after the night before, Sky Sports News’ proverbial brickhouse anchor, Mike Wedderburn, made an excellent point when he pointed out that, as a nation, we have mercilessly taunted Fifa and its President, Sepp Blatter, for years now. Why then, are we so surprised when the body headed up by Blatter decides against conferring such a great honour upon us?
It’s clear that England has reached a crossroads in International football. If there has always been such a cast-iron belief that Fifa is a nefarious body, then why did we pander to them by bidding for the World Cup in the first place? I suspect that our anti-Fifa rhetoric is now stemming from our bitterness at having been overlooked. Let’s face it, we’d have turned the other cheek and welcomed the ‘esteemed’ members of Fifa with open arms had we won. See no evil, hear no evil – so long as we win. Given that, we’re not really in any position to moralise.