A British media tsunami followed Fifa’s choice of Russia for the 2018 soccer World Cup, along with calls for a total reform of the voting process to allow all Fifa members a say, not just Sepp Blatter and his executive committee.
‘‘Russia, a Mafia state rotten to the core with corruption. Qatar, a mediaeval kingdom with no freedom of speech. Both are swimming in oil money. How on Earth did they persuade the dodgy fat cats of Fifa to give them the World Cup?’’ a British newspaper remarked.
The bitterness is understandable because under Fifa’s rules the soonest England – the home of soccer – could now get a World Cup is in 2034, 68 years after they hosted and won the tournament in 1966.
Yet Fifa and many fans say the choices make sense. The world’s biggest sport spectacular in terms of viewership figures has never been held in Russia, Eastern Europe or the Middle East.
Some are happy with Russia as a host, even though soccer doesn’t have large-scale support there and visitors will have to travel long distances between host cities.
Qatar gained independence from Britain in 1971 and has developed from a humble pearl-diving area into one of the world’s richest nations. It says the World Cup is a golden opportunity to show how technology allows sport spectaculars to be held anywhere.
More importantly world peace and tolerance can be promoted and new ties forged, perhaps even between the Western and Muslim worlds.
The Qatar bid committee says stunning innovation will mark the event, especially in air-conditioning systems that will have to tool stadiums under 50-degree desert heat.
Read the full article in YOU, 16 December 2010.