Soccer, with added self-loathing versus racism

OK, so as an Englishman following the World Cup bidding whilst living in and loving Australia, the last 20 minutes have been kinda sad.

My pre-draw, pre-looking-up-facts take on things would be “it’s most likely that Russia and Qatar will win, because the draw is decided by crooked bastards from the third world appointed by crooked Mr Blatter”. I still half stand by that: they did, and on one side, it was. On the other side, I was a bit hasty.

England is going to have hosted an even bigger event six years beforehand and will have the infrastructure in place. Meanwhile, as well as being massively incompetent at everything and almost as crime-ridden as South Africa, Russia is notoriously one of the most corrupt countries in the world, is desperate for international validation, and has enormous mineral wealth.

But I think England can hold its head up high. Russia is, in any sane sense, a worse candidate to hold the World Cup than England, and only won due to the fact that it’s run by lying, cheating bastards who don’t care in the slightest that we all know they are.

Qatar’s victory isn’t quite so simple. While Qatar is a mineral-wealth country, it’s not very corrupt. Indeed, according to the rankings above, it’s no more corrupt than the UK or Japan.

However, unlike Australia and the US, Qatar seriously devoted itself to the World Cup bid. Instead of bribing corrupt officials, it cultivated diplomatic relations with their countries (bribery is evil when it involves individuals, but when a poor nation’s Treasury is enriched by a kind foreign country, giving them your vote in a soccer election isn’t a terrible thing). And it showed that it could build infrastructure, which (let’s be honest – hell, this is the main reason I was hoping we’d win) Australia isn’t great at without an external push of some sort.

So yeah. The Russia World Cup is going to be a terrifying and inept event, which they never should have won. The Qatar World Cup is going to be a boringly competent event, which would have been more fun if it would’ve been in Australia.

And despite stereotypes of Arabs, Qatar won primarily on merit. Unlike the fucking Russians.

6 thoughts on “Soccer, with added self-loathing versus racism”

  1. Yes, but surely the Qatar success really makes the whole idea of 'spreading the World Cup round the globe' ridiculous. They've given it to a tiny country that just happens to be rich enough to build a dozen modern stadiums and associated infrastructure that they don't need and won't use after the World Cup, is in a very unstable part of the world that might become even more volatile in the next few years, and that is less than welcoming towards large sections of the world's population. In essence, it represents the triumph of legal corruption, just as Russia is a victory for its more extreme forms.

    Australia is a sport-mad country that could have put on an excellent World Cup in a multi-cultural society. England had the best football infrastructure of any of the bidding nations, and didn't get anywhere near being successful. Ironically, the UK was totally unsuitable for the Olympics, as it has barely taken seriously the provision of facilities for Athletics and indoor sports.

  2. is in a very unstable part of the world that might become even more volatile in the next few years, and that is less than welcoming towards large sections of the world’s population

    As for the first point here, don't forget that previous World Cups have been held in West Germany and South Korea. Qatar, at least, is not being groomed for its role as the front line in World War 3.
    As for the second: Russia, too, is far from welcoming towards large sections of the world's population…

  3. I was wondering how the visa situation was going to play out – the Russian embassy aren't that forthcoming when there are only two of you wanting to travel, let alone a planeload.

  4. Interesting indeed.

    Thinking about it, I'd naturally have used "we" in either context, it just happened that the need for a pronoun didn't come up in the 'England' bit of the post.

    But it's true that as an Englishman in Oz (importantly, only when there's no cricket or Union under discussion), there is a noticeable element of "we" going on, which doesn't feel particularly weird from my part and doesn't seem to cause offence from their part.

    Also, that feeling here was particularly strong for the World Cup bid, because we were both in the same boat as "best technical bid which failed due to some combination of being shit at diplomacy and shit at bribery". And, of course, because we weren't up against each other…

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