Following allegations of vote rigging, FIFA President Sepp Blatter perhaps hoped the declaration of Russia and Qatar as hosts of World Cups in 2018 and 2022 would promote his “football for all, all for football” philosophy, instead the announcement raised poignant questions from unsuccessful candidates over the murky voting process the 22 FIFA executive committee members participated in.
As British Prime Minister David Cameron said, “England had the most technical bid” and FIFA’s technical committee agreed stating England’s transport, stadiums, IT, security, history and most importantly marketing were “good points”. Independent management consultancy firm McKinsey even stated England’s bid was the most lucrative bid along with the United States. Russia has planned to build 13 stadiums predicted to cost $3.82 billion. Given Russia’s faulting economy which cost Russian oligarch Roman Abramovich $20 billion in a single year, this presents a potential stumbling block. There are also social concerns given the sporadic spurs of racism but what about the threat of Chechnya terrorists?
England was the best bid but also a safe option, it wouldn’t have had an issue with stadiums with Wembley, Old Trafford, Anfield, Emirates, St James’ Park and Stadium of Light already in operation. However 20 of the 22 FIFA executive committee members took no notice and refused to vote for England. What is the point in having a technical committee if their findings are not going to influence the voting process?
Qatar’s bid was plagued by two mains issues in Doha practically hosting the entire tournament and the health hazard caused by the scorching June/July Arabian summer. However unlike the Russians, the Qataris have trees filled with money, when they say they’re going to spend $50 billion on infrastructure, it turns heads. Money speaks.
Under Blatter’s reign, a World Cup was hosted for the first time in post-apartheid South Africa, a World Cup will be hosted for first time in post-Soviet Russia and a World Cup will be hosted for the first time in post 9/11 Qatar. Have you noticed a pattern? Blatter introduced a first World Cup in Africa, a first World Cup in Eastern Europe and a first World Cup in the Middle East. It corresponds with his “football for all, all for football” philosophy. Don’t be surprised if Blatter joins the likes of Jean Henry Dunant, Theodore Roosevelt, Martin Luther King, Jr. and Nelson Mandela as a Nobel Peace laureate.
Just keep in mind, his humanitarian efforts cover up the “other side” of Blatter. A quasi politician whose alleged “Huey Long” tactics garnered him FIFA presidency and during his reign, a consistent presence of corruption has engulfed FIFA.
Regardless of all these negatives, football brings society together. Blatter said football teaches us to lose with dignity and instead of whining, bitching and being bitter, we should support Russia and Qatar. To sum up, here is a quote of Zinedine Zidane (who gained $15 million for supporting Qatar), “Football belongs to everyone”.
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Written by Allan Jiang
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