WORLD CUP WILLIES
Mickey Blue Eyes
I thought I might as well throw in my rouble/dinar's worth, having just heard the FIFA selection of hosts for World Cups 2018 and 2022 at the expense of England and the USA.
My first emotion is one of, excuse the Walter Smithism, deep disappointment. When you compete you want to win more than anything. The second one is, assuming freedom from corruption - a small hope - good luck wishes to Russia and Qatar, neither of whom have previously hosted the tournament; that much is at least fair. The more the game's showpiece is spread around, the better. Thirdly, almost anything is welcome that helps English culture lose its sanctimonious chauvinism and jingoism. The world has changed since the days of Empire but if you paid attention to our media you wouldn't think so.
My disappointment is centred on two losses. The most important of these is an absent opportunity for our youngsters to see a World Cup tournament at close quarters. I was lucky enough to experience World Cup 1966 and it left a lifelong impression on me, as you would expect, though it was of course a completely different society then. The other is the loss of immediate stadia improvement and new builds, both of which are long overdue. The larger stadia are fine but we simply don't have enough of them at club level. Now, the earliest chance of this will be sixteen years hence, in 2026. Oh well. The only minor consolation is that we at Everton will be spared possible footy humiliation of missing out as a venue, even though we would like to think we would be comfortably settled in a new stadium by 2018.........actually a fantasy, given present circumstances.
Now, veteran fans are well acquainted with FIFA corruption. There's nothing new about it. Outstanding investigative journalists such as Tom Bower long ago exposed it. Nor is it a recent phenomenon, for which see the history of previous administration of FIFA. It is littered with Western racism and favouritism. Very often, the worst offender was stiff upper lip "distinguished" Englishman, "Sir" Stanley Rous. And those with long memories won't have forgotten English corruption during the bids for World Cup 2006. English culture has always been famous for its hypocrisy, hence the label of "perfidious Albion." So, whatever the truth of the matter, historically England and its media cannot adopt a pose of sanctimony. It simply won't wash. If the selection process has been riven with corruption - and it wouldn't surprise me one iota - then let's see the proof before we hear more media jingo nonsense.
Certainly, merely tagging Russia a "Mafia state" is a bit rich where the USA of all people is concerned: Las Vegas, anyone? Physician, heal thyself. Conversely, if FIFA allowed recent allegations by English media to harden them against the England bid then they have indeed been corrupt; if media here thought they could influence proceedings to advantage, then so are they corrupt. Beware simplistics.
Anyway, we've lost the opportunity for another half generation at least. So be it. We have no divine rights in the matter. It would be good if everybody drew sensible conclusions from it all. But I wouldn't make book on it.