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Good old FIFA Strikes again. It took a night for it to all sink in. I watched various television network coverage and listened to the reaction from people around the world to get an idea of what this really means. What shocks me more about soccer’s world governing body awarding Russia the 2018 World Cup and Qatar the 2022 World Cup is that Sepp Blatter did not come out on Thursday dressed as the Star Wars character Emperor Palpatine. This is not the Olympic movement folks it’s the World Cup of soccer. What gives any soccer growing nation incentive to bid for a World Cup when in all honesty it’s really about very deep pockets. It was a joke before the FIFA Executive Committee voted on awarding the World Cups and a bigger one after. It’s become even more humorous over the years watching FIFA try to hang on to every rule set up in its governing body to keep corruption alive and well. Whatever happened to FIFA and video replay? Not only did it affect teams trying to qualify for 2010 (Ireland), it hurt teams in the tournament as well, most notably England when officials somehow failed to see the ball cross the goal line by more than a couple of feet, which would have tied their match against Germany.
Hossain: FIFA Decisions Hardly 'Stupid'
Declan Hill, Canadian author of "The Fix", reminded me of Sepp Blatter sitting with the Godfather of the Russian Mafia, Anzor Kikalishvili, in a private box at the final of the 1994 World Cup. To be a fly on the wall for that match! In fact, this week a high ranking American military official via Wiki-leaks documents called Russia "A virtual Mafia state." Maybe Sepp is trying to solve all of the world’s political problems through the spreading of "the beautiful game." Too bad that’s not his job. At least Russia has a professional league, has qualified for previous World Cups (without the help of FIFA which backfired on Russia in trying to qualify for South Africa), and have done very well on the European stage including reaching the semi-finals of Euro 2008.
Qatar on the other hand is a complete money grab and a slap in the face to every soccer building nation in the world. Qatar is a country with less than two million people, smaller than the State of Connecticut, has never qualified for the World Cup and has a FIFA ranking of 113. Canada is currently ranked 85th. Now they get a free pass because they have lots of oil money. Not even the United States, who was bidding against Qatar, can argue with that one. Fool me once…….yes even George W. would not have something on paper to say that he would screw up reading anyway.
How must Australia feel right about now? Here is a country that has completely revamped its football program and if there is any FIFA mandate to reward countries for their work in developing the sport this is certainly it. It was after The Mitchell Report was published the Australian government pulled its funding of football, forced their football governing body to change and they have since qualified for the last two World Cup’s. Let’s not forget they have a growing domestic league as well.
Every time we think FIFA might do something that actually makes sense they seem to do the exact opposite. My only now question is, "How much longer can FIFA snow the snowman?" I guess only countries where snow is common will get that one and Qatar certainly isn’t one of them. Fear not…money can solve that problem too as their UAE neighbours have proved by building a massive indoor ski facility.
Lee Godfrey brings an extensive amount of soccer broadcast experience to GolTV where he is the host of the station’s original Canadian news program Extra Time.