I awoke the other morning to the news splashed over two hours on the BBC Today programme, about how a combined British / Irish challenge is building steam towards moving towards a combined attempt to hold and run a British/Irish World Cup in 2030. The very next thing broadcast is the sounds of Theresa May spouting support for this FIFA challenge.
Are they (the football supremos of the Five footballing nations) all mad? Do they honestly believe that, reformed or not, allegedly transparent or not, the bunch of thieving crooks who gather under the shelter of the FIFA flag would give anything more than the two points gained in the previous World Cup contest to the ‘squeaky-clean’ Brits? The many arrests and indictments gained by America’s Federal authorities placed a small positive mark in FIFA’s area, but the fact that so many of the FIFA senior executives are still prominent, both in terms of their positions on the FIFA Congress, which actually runs the voting procedure, but also in their own footballing nations and organisations.
A speedy review of the allegations, carried prominently within the Sunday Times, of the corrupt practices, outright bribery and rampant criminality surrounding both the decision to award the 2022 Cup to Qatar, and the similar award to the Russian Federation for the tournament recently concluded: will bring forward hundreds of valid reasons why not a single Pound Sterling of Taxpayers’ cash be spent on an ill-fated campaign to bring the World Cup to the British Isles. There was a cost of some twenty-odd millions spent during the previous campaign, and yet, in spite of Royal appearances, and multiple footballing ‘stars’ during that campaign, the British bid, entirely open and honest, as we British believe all such events such be, was rubbished and belittled, despite all those vague promises; during those corrupt and almost criminal voting procedures. Worldwide, companies similar to W.H. Smiths, the high street stationer, must have seen huge purchases of brown padded envelopes to hold all the bribery cash spread around by both the Russians and the Qataris; and yet we British, ever hopeful and naive as always, continue to act as though this corruption just does not exist.
So why, I must ask in all sincerity, do we delude ourselves that we, as a so-called sporting nation, as the inventor of the game itself, as the land upon which the richest and most envied clubs battle it out for the various Championships; have a chance at getting this prize, this supremely-tarnished trophy, when just about every other country in the world is ready to pay anything to be in with a slimy, crooked, corrupt chance to hold this tournament? Just ask South Africa if they, as a nation, think it was worth the expense of building all those stadiums, all that infrastructure, going into massive debt which will never, ever, be paid off, to be saddled with four of the five brand-new stadiums standing unused, deserted and surplus to anything the country could ever uphold on its own? With the weeds growing out of the cracked concrete, with the winds blowing over the acres of empty parking spaces, and with the echoes of the ‘vuvuzelas’ as the only memory worth recording? True it may be that we, as the five Nations, have more than an ample number of stadiums suitable for any World Championship in theory, but the huge extra expense involved in the running and supporting such a bid must itself come with a large question mark.
The clubs themselves, from the ultra-rich of the Premier League, down the ladder to the Championship and beyond, as the ultimate beneficiaries of all the cash which would be left over after the greedy claws of FIFA take the lions’ share of the profits; should be the only ones to shell out any cash which must, of necessity be in the area of at least £25 to £30 millions to support this bid. After all, the question must be asked: “Why should taxpayers cash be poured out to support a football tournament which would benefit some of the wealthiest companies in Britain’s sporting sphere?”
We just have to look back at the cash splurge which followed the award of the Olympics to London; when an initial estimate of £2.3 billions ballooned almost overnight to the eventual spend of £9.2 billions: and for what? So a tiny number of athletes, swimmers, cyclists and sports enthusiasts could scream with excitement as they ‘won’ their heats and finals? The politicians all shouted as one that the Olympics would be the start of a new era of sporting achievement and participation, with British people getting moving, getting healthier and becoming much fitter. Six years later, we still have some of the fattest and laziest people around, being beaten on the ‘fat’ stakes only by North America. Participation? Don’t make me laugh.
Nope, if the fat-cats of the FA and the junior governing bodies of the other nations want to get together, and bid for a 2030 World Cup, all in the course of putting on a British/Irish football tournament, one of the most boring possibilities going: all I would remark is ‘Have fun, lads; as long as you are spending your cash: Good luck with that!’