Thursday, December 09, 2010

Off the Ball

In all the recriminations following England's failure to win the right to host the 2018 World Cup, the area which seems to have been least explored by the media, is the culpability of those organising the bid. Which isn't really surprising. After all, it's always easier to blame Johnny Foreigner for being underhand and corrupt, not to mention the BBC for running a documentary saying that those Johnny Foreigners in FIFA were underhand and corrupt, than to accept that our bid might, itself, have been at fault. (Actually, I love the way that many in the FA condemned the BBC's Panorama expose of FIFA prior to the FIFA vote, but that they are now praising the BBC for uncovering it's corrupt nature!) But hey, we might not have won, but we had the best bid, the press and FA keep reminding us - we should be proud of that, at least. Hell, I should bloody well hope that we had the best bid - it cost £18m, for Christ's sake! How the Hell could a bid to host a sporting event have cost that much? Where did the money go? Not into the Swiss bank accounts of FIFA Committee members, apparently. Although, in light of the BBC programme, it would probably have been cheaper simply to buy their votes.

But the cost of the bid highlights the problem - this misguided notion the FA seemed to have that FIFA could be swayed by glossy presentations and, worst of all, 'celebrity' endorsements. Indeed, the nature of the final presentation was probably what finally scuppered it. Who thought that sending a bunch of public school toffs - Prince William, David Cameron and Boris Johnson - was going to sway FIFA? This really was the worst possible image to project - that we're still a class-ridden society where power lies with the wealthy. Particularly bearing in mind that they were trying to convince FIFA to allow England to stage the World Cup of football - supposedly a working man's game. Their presence just served to underline the fact that football in England is increasingly dominated by money, and that ordinary fans are being priced out of the game. I've little doubt that the presence of these toffs just convinced FIFA that our own FA are completely out of touch.



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