What they’re saying about the World Cup decision
Should England have let the PM and the Prince prostrate themselves before Fifa?
The decision of Fifa to virtually ignore England’s bid for the World Cup – it received only two votes from the 22-man committee meeting in Zurich yesterday – and award the 2018 tournament to Russia has caused an avalanche of comment in the British media. As for Qatar getting the 2022 Cup, it’s an insult to football fans, says one leading football writer. Here’s the best of the opinion available so far:
James Lawton, the Independent: "No sliver of doubt now attaches itself to the conclusion that to stage it you do not require the culture and passion which gave tournaments in places like Argentina, Spain, Mexico, Italy, France, Germany, England and South Africa vibrant and distinctive lives of their own. You just need the money and the connections and we are not talking about prime ministers and royalty and celebrity players. No, it is the men of the truly big money, Fifa announced in Zurich yesterday, who conquer all."
Richard Littlejohn, the Daily Mail: "Frankly, the sight of the future King proclaiming to the watching world that football is his ‘passion’ was stomach-churning. He came across like a needy contestant on Masterchef, or one of those pathetic individuals ‘living the dream’ on reality TV. Was it really necessary for the heir to the throne to have to prostrate himself over breakfast before an 82-year-old Paraguayan crook?”
Simon Jenkins, the Guardian: "The one leader to emerge from the World Cup farrago with credit is, of all people, Russia's Vladimir Putin, who wisely decided that the Zurich shenanigans were beneath his dignity. Depths to which the Russian prime minister is not prepared to stoop are deep indeed. But then he probably already knew he had won. Why did Britain not know? Why does David Cameron now react with a solemnity more appropriate for a terrorist outrage or a natural disaster?"
Robert Fox, The First Post: “The logistical complexity of the Russian tournament – with matches spread among far-flung cities and across some half a dozen time zones – offers added opportunity for terrorists... In tiny, highly concentrated Qatar, the problem is quite the opposite. It is a confined space in a highly volatile region... Prominent Qataris, including members of the ruling family, are suspected in the [Wikileaks] cables of actually funding al-Qaeda.”
Paul Joyce, the Express: "England’s humiliation in seeing the decision to hand the 2018 World Cup to Russia and then take the greatest show on earth to Qatar in 2022, had little to do with football. It was to do with politics and slapping down a nation whose free press had dared to try to expose the stench of corruption within the ranks of an organisation who like to think they are above the law."
Editorial in the Daily Mirror: "The fact that England got just two votes indicates how poor our 2018 team was. Badly led, staffed with mediocrities and bogged down with in-fighting, it was always going to be a steep hill for Becks and Co to climb."
Henry Winter, the Daily Telegraph: "The real scandal in Fifa-ville was the decision to award the 2022 tournament to Qatar, a soulless, featureless, air-conditioned, cramped place with so little connection to football it required hired hands like Pep Guardiola. It was as if Fifa was saying ‘to hell with the fans’. Qatar 2022 will be a joyless experience for supporters."
Richard Williams, the Guardian: “There will be a hangover from today's announcement, and unpleasant consequences. The prospects of upgrading stadiums in such places as Nottingham and Milton Keynes, for example, will no doubt recede. It would be sad, however, if it were allowed to affect the prospects and the development of the generation of young English players who won the European Under-17 championship this year, and who might be approaching their peak in 2018. For them, a World Cup in Russia – or anywhere else – is as important as a World Cup in England.”
Simon Kuper, Financial Times: “In choosing Qatar for 2022, Fifa ignored its own experts. Fifa’s evaluation called Qatar’s heat ‘a potential health risk for players, officials, the Fifa family and spectators’. The stadiums will be artificially cooled but, as Chuck Blazer, an Exco member, said, you cannot air-condition a country.”
Editorial in the Times: "A World Cup should be a celebration of sport. And yet the bidding process is a black hole of back-room deals and political self-interest." ·
Comments are now closed on this article