England was doomed from the start

STEVE BUFFERY, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 9:39 AM ET

Some thoughts on FIFA’s decision to award Russia the 2018 and Qatar the 2022 World Cups.

Prior to the vote by the FIFA executive committee in Zurich on Thursday two members of the committee and four other FIFA officials were suspended as a result of corruption scandals. This week, the BBC claimed another three current committee members had accepted bribes years ago.

Given that, FIFA should have overhauled the bid process in advance of the vote. Clearly, there has to be a better way of bidding. One solution: The members who vote should not be identified until after the vote and should be selected randomly from the FIFA general assembly — cutting down any pre-vote hanky panky (i.e. bribes). As well, all the votes should be open and transparent so everyone knows who voted for what bids. We should take heed of Irish politician Cecilia Keaveney, who has called for an independent anti-corruption agency to oversee world sports.

FIFA president Sepp Blatter said the Arabic world deserves a World Cup. Fair enough. Qatar is one of the most liberal states in the Middle East. Nonetheless, Qatar should take a leadership role in the region and make a major stand prior to hosting the 2022 World Cup by pledging:

— Full and equal rights for women.

— That Israel, if they qualify, would be a welcomed and cherished participant at the event.

— To get rid of any sponsorship laws. Such laws concerning visiting workers, which are practiced in Qatar, are akin to modern-day slavery.

Russia. You have to wonder about Russia.

They won the right to host the 2014 Winter Olympics from the IOC and now they’ve won the right to host the 2018 World Cup from FIFA. Nothing, it appears, can stop them.

Just some food for thought. Both the IOC and FIFA have been caught in major corruption scandals. Meanwhile, the world corruption index (posted by Transparency International), lists Russia as corrupt, 154th overall in fact. (Canada is number six and is considered clean). Should that set off some alarms?

As for as their sportsmanship, remember the accusations and whining at the 2010 Vancouver Games by Russian officials and some media outlets after they lost the gold medal to Canada in hockey and recorded one of their worst Olympics ever in terms of performances? There were suggestions that the Vancouver organizers were out to get certain Russian athletes and that Canadian hockey players were on performance-enhancing drugs. Just saying.

Irony. Is it not ironic that Qatar became an exceedingly wealthy nation by selling oil and gas to the United States and now they’ve used that money to hammer the Americans in the bid to host the 2022 Olympics? Part of the reason Qatar won the bid is because of the billions they’ve pledged in building air-conditioned outdoor stadiums, as temperatures in Qatar typically exceed 118F degrees.

“Basically, oil and natural gas won today. This was not about merit, this was about money,” former U.S. national team star Eric Wynalda told the Associated Press.

FIFA’s priorities.

Australia (2022) and England (2018) were considered two of the strongest bids technically, but both were eliminated early in the process. On top of that, Sydney hosted arguably the best Summer Olympics ever in 2000. Yet they were both blown out of the water in the bidding.

“It’s hard to see what more you can do, but in the end it turns out having the best technical bid, the best commercial bid, a passion for football, that’s not enough,” said British Prime Minister David Cameron after the vote.

Makes you wonder.

England’s chances for 2018.

Zero. Sadly, transparency and due diligence, when it comes to bidding for world-sporting events, is a killer. England was doomed from the start after reports in the Sunday Times of London and the BBC exposed FIFA corruption. In a perfect world, England would have been rewarded for its transparent media. Sadly, we don’t live in a perfect world. We live in a corrupt world.

What is Ángel Maria Villar Llona, a Spanish member of FIFA’s executive committee, smoking?

“FIFA is clean, FIFA does things honestly, FIFA works for football and the world.” he said.

Wow.

Canada. Does any of this make any difference in terms of Canada’s chances of qualifying for a World Cup for the first time since 1986? Sadly, probably not. Until the Canadian team secures more money for its programs and perfects, along with the rest of the football world, the art of diving during qualifying games, they’ll never qualify again.


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