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The Midweek Moan: Sepp Blatter, FIFA president and grand master of stating the ruddy obvious

FIFA president Sepp Blatter with the World Cup trophy. Photo: Mike Egerton/EMPICS FIFA president Sepp Blatter with the World Cup trophy. Photo: Mike Egerton/EMPICS

Wednesday, January 16, 2013
2:31 PM

Welcome to London24’s weekly column taking a frustrated look at the world of sport and having a good old-fashioned rant to get it off our chests. This week, a Swiss man tells it like it is, for the benefit of nobody...

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"But don’t forget, Mr Blatter still thinks England would “make something very, very exceptional” of hosting a World Cup. Whenever that might be. In 15 years’ time we’ll probably go up against Narnia and lose because, though we’ve got Three Lions on a shirt, they’ve got one that can talk. The swines."

James Cunliffe

“Should England organise a World Cup, they would make the best out of it, and they would make something very, very exceptional. It is the homeland of football.”

Not my words, not the view of the local know-it-all down the pub, this is a statement made by FIFA president Sepp Blatter this week.

He, for those of you not living on planet football, is the man that heads the game’s world governing body, which is precisely the organisation that holds the power to grant such an honour.

Four nations have twice had the pleasure of putting on the greatest show on earth – Germany, Mexico, Italy and France, if you’re interested – while Brazil will join that elite group next year.

And for the “homeland of football”? Just the once… in 1966.

But don’t forget, we would “make something very, very exceptional” of it if we held another one. Blatter’s words, not mine, remember.

This is the same man who was elected top of the FIFA tree in 1998 and re-elected three times since, the last time without so much as challenger for the role.

In that time England has bid twice for the chance to host the World Cup. Thirteen years ago we lost out – not for the first time in an international football sense – to Germany for the chance to host the 2006 tournament.

That was a campaign that cost a reported £10million, and for that money England secured five votes from the 24-strong FIFA executive committee in the first ballot, but was eliminated after securing only two in the second.

Never mind. If at once you don’t succeed try, try again, as they say.

So England did. In 2010 we spent a reported £19million on a bid campaign for the 2018 edition. Hands were apparently shaken and assurances were apparently given that led the entire nation to believe that we may just have a shout.

What we weren’t told was that the extent of this chance lay somewhere between slim and a cure for cancer. We were duly embarrassed with a paltry two out of 22 votes from the FIFA executive committee, one of which came from our own bid chairman Geoff Thompson.

All this despite England having the infrastructure and stadia that means we could stage a World Cup tomorrow, if needed.

Instead, Russia won. Though some of their venues and transport links to get fans there were nothing but drawings on a piece of paper, and though parts of eastern Europe still has many other questionable social problems that England and our game has actively been rallying against for decades, Russia won.

That’s not a criticism of the country per se, just an example of how FIFA opted to choose a bid in-part based on make-believe.

Of course, the 2018 World Cup may yet be a success but they have no track record.

Don’t even get me started on Qatar (population 1.75million) and a successful 2022 bid based quite significantly on the frankly ridiculous notion that they will air-condition stadiums in a desert that reaches 50°C in the summer.

But don’t forget, Mr Blatter still thinks England would “make something very, very exceptional” of hosting a World Cup. Whenever that might be. In 15 years’ time we’ll probably go up against Narnia and lose because, though we’ve got Three Lions on a shirt, they’ve got one that can talk. The swines.

Of course, our fate and Russia’s was learned two years before London demonstrated to planet earth with the 2012 Olympics that we don’t half know how to put a show on. But all that reflected glory now just grates when thoughts of World Cups come to mind or, more precisely, when a 78-year-old Swiss man rubs our noses in it buy saying what we all knew two, five, ten, even 20 years ago – that England is ready.

Come back next week when Sepp Blatter will tell us that cigarettes are bad for your health. Full of wisdom, that man. Full of it.

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