BY JOHN GUBBA

Whatever the fall out over the FIFA corruption claims do not be fooled into thinking England has any right to stage the 2018 World Cup – Russia deserved to win the vote and our team got it hopelessly wrong.

For former FA and England 2018 chairman Lord Triesman to allege that four FIFA executive members asked for favours in exchange for World Cup votes – including one who wanted a knighthood – is just sour grapes. Remember we only got two votes anyway.

The real issue is why on earth did FIFA award the 2022 World Cup to Qatar? Now that is a questionable decision on so many levels that really does stink of corruption.

Qatar is a tiny country with no recognisable soccer history. Mega-rich. But ill-equipped to stage a World Cup. It’s one existing international airport will need to triple in size. Nine stadiums need to be built, and the proposed host city of Lusail doesn’t even exist yet.

Then there’s that whole concept of solar-powered, carbon-neutral air-conditioning system for the stadiums to combat the 115-degree heat during a typical Qatari summer afternoon.

Not to mention the fact that visitors carrying an Israeli passport are not currently allowed in Qatar, homosexuality is illegal, single women under the age of 35 are typically required to have a male escort to enter the country and all women are forbidden to wear shorts and skirts.

As one tweeter observed when the controversial decision was made: “If FIFA really wanted to change the world through soccer, they would have awarded Qatar the Women’s World Cup.”

FIFA president Sepp Blatter insists that a first World Cup in the Middle East will continue the organization’s commitment to “open this game to everybody and open it to all cultures.” Yes that is an admirable philosophy.

But it is hardly surprising to learn that Qatar’s controversial success in taking the 2022 World Cup to the desert was propelled by millions of dollars in bribes, according to previously unpublished conversations key figures connected with FIFA held with undercover reporters.

In evidence published on Tuesday under parliamentary privilege by the select committee on football governance, the Sunday Times alleges that Michel Zen-Ruffinen, a former secretary general of FIFA, introduced the reporters to Amadou Diallo, a member of the Confederatio of African Football. Zen-Ruffinen is said to have claimed that Qatar was “using Diallo to arrange financial deals with the African [Fifa executive committee] members in exchange for World Cup votes”.

On Tuesday night the Qatar Football Association issued a statement in which they said they “categorically deny” the allegations. But this is not the last we will hear on this subject.

UPDATE: 27 May 2011 – FIFA has opened ethics proceedings against its president, Sepp Blatter

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