My personal preferences to host the 2018 and 2022 FIFA World Cups were England and Australia; England for its history, contributions to the game and football atmosphere, and Australia for its proximity to my residence of New Zealand.
Developments this week, whether its BBC Panorama reports or the “McKinsey Report”, have changed my mind.
Though it comes as no surprise to me that people such as Issa Hayatou, Nicolás Leoz, Jack Warner and Ricardo Teixeira are accused of bribery, I’ve nevertheless reached boiling point on the topic. I’m tired. I’m tired of ridiculous FIFA machinations and even more ridiculous FIFA directors.
Not only are no proper measures taken against these people, they don’t even give us proper denials. Their responses are cursory these-allegations-are-not-true statements with an underlying threat – that this will only harm the reporting country’s bid.
Nor is it a surprise that a FIFA study ranked Australia last in projected revenues for the tournament. Management Consultants McKinsey did an assessment of the various bids in key revenue areas, scoring the USA first at 100% and Australia last at 68%. Some have referred to the Australia bid as a potential “financial disaster”.
Not that it stopped them from holding the World Cup in South Africa. Or in Brazil in 2014. The only group making money out of these events is FIFA.
Combined, these events make FIFA looks corrupt, greedy, and entirely uninterested in actual football.
I was once excited about the prospect of having a FIFA World Cup nearby, or maybe even travelling to England in 2018 for a match or two. But I don’t care anymore, and I certainly don’t want to spend any money helping FIFA’s cause.
Exorbitant ticket prices, extortionist rules for vendors and venues (not to mention sky-rocketing rights costs for media access) mean that the FIFA World Cup is more a travelling, money-making roadshow that a sporting event.
I know that sounds naive, but despite huge revenues and massive viewership figures, the game is facing some struggles. It’s being slowly monopolised by the largest European clubs with support from even larger global financial entities.
Football has ceased to be about the stadium experience. It is now something you watch on TV. And why not? It fits in perfectly with reality TV programming. The on-camera antics of such luminaries as Cristiano Ronaldo, Jose Mourinho, and England’s Brave John Terry — not to mention off-field tie-ins with Brand Beckham and scandals such as the Franck Ribery and Wayne Rooney dalliances — mean there’s much more Jersey Shore to the world of football than most of us care to admit.
Hell, with scouting and actual player bids being made based entirely on YouTube clips, I’m pretty sure that some confused club director has made a bid for Snooki at one time or another (though I understand she can be a disruptive presence in the locker room, and the hot tub).
Well, if it’s a show they’re giving us, then let’s just sit back and enjoy. I suggest that we all sit back and watch, and not attend. After all, FIFA doesn’t seem to actually want real football fans at its stadiums, so let’s give them a miss. I’ll still watch because the World Cup has been something I have never, and probably will never miss. It’s too central to me as a football fan.
But I don’t want it in my backyard, or any of my friends’, anymore. You can keep it FIFA. Hold it wherever you like, the middle of the desert, or the middle of Siberia, or Times Square, for all I care. I’m not going.
And I’m hoping Argentina win in 2014 in the final in the Maracaná against Brazil on a handball goal, and Sepp Blatter gets lynched by Brazilian fans protesting the lack of a replay referee.
That would make for fantastic TV.