England feel the wrath of FIFA and Sepp’s laughter

by John O’Connor

The England World Cup bid team were left fuming at the hands of FIFA, after their £12million bid to host the 2018 World Cup was rejected, getting only 2 of the 22 votes available to them and losing out to eventual winners Russia.

Ireland fans will be familiar with embarrassment at the hands of FIFA, when their president Sepp Blatter laughed at the FAI’s private suggestion for Ireland to be the 33rd team in the 2010 World Cup after the Thierry Henry handball debacle.

The England bid team and their high profile ambassadors – David Beckham, Prince William and Prime Minister David Cameron – dubbed “The Three Lions” by the English press, were left red-faced when it emerged that votes they thought they secured did not go their way.

Interestingly, the only votes the English team received were from their own FIFA representative Geoff Thompson and Confederation of African Football President Issa Hayatou, despite the latter being implicated in the recent BBC documentary Panorama about corruption within FIFA.

The bid’s failure looks particularly bad for Prime Minister David Cameron, who tried to emulate Tony Blair’s coup of bringing the 2012 Olympics to London, but ended up being embarrassed by FIFA delegates such as Trinidad and Tobago football executive Jack Warner and President Blatter.

The English press were tipped off earlier in the week by one of Warner’s aides, saying Warner would be giving his vote to the England bid.

The images of Cameron, Beckham and Prince William “lobbying” people like Warner, a man who has been subject to FIFA internal reviews, for ticket-touting, were particularly damning.

The supposed surprise, anger and outcry to reform the voting procedure for the World Cup was also lamentable as the bid team knew, or should have known, exactly what they were getting themselves in to before the vote took place.

Russian President Vladimir Putin made Cameron and co. look like novices as he flew out to celebrate the win in Zurich, having not needed to attend the pre-announcement ceremonies to scrounge for last-minute votes.

The most regrettable act of the England bid team was not their failure in securing the 2018 World Cup, but their condemnation of their domestic press, who repeatedly tried to uncover the alleged corruption within FIFA and even managing to expose two FIFA members who were subsequently suspended from FIFA and from voting.

It may be unfortunate that England did not win the right to host the 2018 World Cup as their technical bid was the best and they have the infrastructure and capabilities to handle such a big prestigious tournament.

More surprising is the destination of the 2022 World Cup, Qatar; a country that is over 7 times smaller than Ireland, where homosexuality is illegal and public alcohol consumption is illegal.

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