I’ve had enough. Our beautiful game has been continually degraded in the pursuit of money over the last couple of decades. It has, of course, seen the quality of football, footballer and stadium comfort increase. There are many benefits to the increased flow of money into the game, but also many drawbacks, especially when we talk corruption.
I’ve been bemoaning FIFA and Sepp Blatter in particular since the 1990’s. I’ve long suspected something was up, but when the 2018 World Cup was awarded to Russia with England having just a couple of second-preference votes, my eyebrows were raised. Losing to Russia in itself isn’t controversial – they certainly had an argument for holding the World Cup. But losing in the manner that we did raises questions.
The 2022 World Cup being awarded to Qatar was shocking.
It was that point that I, and many, many others knew something was up. And although no charges have yet been made, I suspect my suspicions will prove well-founded.
But it isn’t just the corruption that concerns me. That is minor compared to the suffering and high mortality rate in building the stadiums in Qatar.
It isn’t easy to put figures on it, as investigative journalists in Qatar tend to get arrested, but there is an estimate of 1,200 deaths so far that is widely written about – and even if that is 10 times as much as reality, that is still totally disgusting.
How can a human with a conscience watch a World Cup, a celebration of human endeavour, with the knowledge of how many people have died just to bring us a game of football?
It is abhorrent.
Further to that, we do know that many workers are there in servitude – not allowed to return to their home countries, passports suffocated, awful working and living conditions. This is not something FIFA, their sponsors or a football fan with a heart should accept.
It would be interesting to know who is building the World Cup stadiums and infrastructure in Russia. The contracts were probably awarded to Putin’s family and friends.
Why are we supporting such a corrupt regime? Add in the invasion and annexation of a neighbouring country, the multiple murders of journalists and political opponents – even in the UK, and the widespread anti-gay movement in Russia, and again this is not a country that should be awarded the World Cup.
Why has Sepp Blatter allowed this to happen?
Sepp Blatter has actually done more damage to the reputation of world football than Assem Allam has done to Hull City AFC.
But Sepp Blatter’s semi-resignation is not enough.
For the reputation of FIFA to be restored, and for me to consider watching either World Cup, the following needs to happen:
1. The Qatar World Cup has to be scrapped, even if there is no proof of corruption, with the bidding process re-run.
2. Russia has to remove itself and it’s asymmetric troops from Ukraine now.
3. If significant corruption is proven for the bidding of the Russia 2018 World Cup, it must not be held there.
4. The bidding process for World Cup’s needs revamping. If fans of non-bidding countries could each have a vote, a true globally public vote, then that would surely remove any possibility of corruption?
5. Countries with appalling human rights records, or a recent history of illegal country invasion/violent meddling should not be able to host a World Cup, or Olympics for that matter. These should be great honours and not for abusive regimes.
6. Sepp Blatter needs to go now, with no pay-off and no involvement whatsoever in world football.
To me, watching the upcoming World Cups equates to watching Taliban hangings.
FIFA is a disgrace to world football and unless all 6 above actions are taken, I cannot watch either World Cup, and will not understand any football fan with a heart watching it.
It pains me to do it, because I love the World Cup but at least I will start have the Euros to watch.
It is time us fans stood up to FIFA, stood up to corruption and boycott both FIFA and their sponsors at all opportunity.
Starting with the Women’s World Cup.