Nobody should be surprised by FIFA’s selection of Russia and Qatar as the next two hosts for the World Cup. FIFA, along with the International Olympic Committee are among the most corrupt organizations in the world (see Jack Warner). It’s clear that England was by far the best host for 2018 in terms of attendance, overall revenue and atmosphere. A world cup in England would have rivaled Germany in 2006, but it’s clear that’s not what FIFA wants.
I don’t buy FIFA’s insistence that they’re trying to spread the game around the world. All they are about is pulling off a decent tournament and getting rich themselves. Before the final vote, FIFA president and Bond villain lookalike Sepp Blatter spoke of the “evils of the media,” referring to a British press investigation that caused 6 delegates to resign amid corruption charges. According to the head of England’s bid delegation:
Robertson said: “One of the rumours sweeping Zurich last night was that there are 22 Fifa exco delegates as you know, and the rumour was that only three of them bothered to call for the technical reports and two of those bothered to call for those technical reports so they could release them to their own bid teams. If you have 22 exco members and they’re not bothering to read the technical reports, I think that probably tells you it’s not a football-based decision.”
At a news conference in Zurich Anson, asked if England should bid to host the tournament again, said: “I would say right now, ‘Don’t bother until you know that the process is going to change to allow bids like ours [a chance] to win. When you have the best technical bid, fantastic inspection visits, the best economic report, and, from what people told us, the best presentation, it’s quite hard to stomach that all that seemed to count for absolutely nothing.
“Having only 22 guys only voting gives them too much influence. Running two bids together was clearly a huge mistake. Everyone who had a vote and a bid clearly wanted to trade that vote for something that helped them get over the line in that campaign. Australia had a very good bid and they got one vote, we had a very good bid and we got two, the USA had an unbelievably strong technical bid and got three. Six votes in the first round between those three, there’s something not quite right.
“You have to open it up to all member associations and have transparency and open voting so everyone knows who voted for whom. With 22 guys having so much power it becomes very, very difficult.”
Wikileaks recently revealed a cable calling Russia a mafia state, so it’s no stretch that their government/oligarchs/mafia found a way to funnel into FIFA’s welcoming hands. I actually think Russia will host a fairly good tournament, just like South Africa did, especially if they do the grouping so that you don’t have to travel huge distances. Russia has good night life and the climate will be great for a summer tournament, but I think FIFA took personal gain over the potential to have one of the best tournaments ever.
Qatar is another story. They have oil money and want to get on the world stage. Again, it’s no stretch that they were able to funnel some into FIFA’s open arms. I just don’t see how Qatar will be able to host a decent tournament in June and July. I know they’ll have air conditioned stadiums, but the best part of the tournament is seeing the country and hanging out with people from all over the world. With temperatures peaking at 50C, I can’t see it being very fun. A Qatar travel site says “anyone who can leave Qatar in the summer does.” Add in the fact that it’s close to terrorist hotspots and doesn’t allow Israelis to enter, I can’t see Qatar being able to pull off a really fun World Cup. I understand why the US didn’t get it since we just hosted in 1994, but Australia would have been a really good choice, too.
FIFA delegates may not have accepted bribes (I think they did, but I don’t have evidence), but FIFA has other reasons for picking developing countries. In South Africa, FIFA basically rented the country out for 6 weeks. They got the government to change laws and make new ones to restrict advertising. They got South Africa to allow “blue lights” to drive as fast as they wanted and ignore traffic laws, and even got the police and organizing committee to sweep all sorts of misdeeds under the rug. See my post about FIFA’s corruption from July for more details.
The last World Cups have been held in South Africa, Brazil, Russia and Qatar, all developing countries without extremely strong rule of law. All four are willing to sacrifice rule of law for the chance to be on the world stage. I’m not sure that I blame them either. I just don’t think we’re likely to see a World Cup or Olympics in a developed country any time soon. Sepp Blatter FIFA would rather take money and make their own rules, far away from the prying eyes of the British or American press.