Despite unprecedented problems for both the host nation and the governing body, the 2014 World Cup in Brazil promises to be a classic.
Anyone who loves the beautiful game will hope that football does the talking from here on in. But when it is all over let us waste no time in cleaning up the corrupt mess that is FIFA and that MUST mean the end of the road for the governing body’s outdated president Sepp Blatter.
To the vast majority of football fans around the world, Blatter is a buffoon whose dictatorial control has made the game a laughing stock. From his sexist remarks about women footballers to his below the belt claims of a a racist British media that is so wide of the mark that it is nothing short of libellous, it is clear that he will try anything to get re-elected.
No doubt he is a brilliant politician who has ruled FIFA with an iron grip. But the time has come for the 78-year-old from Switzerland to depart when his mandate ends in 2015 and under no circumstances can we allow him to be re-elected. The reason I mention this on the day the greatest show on earth kicks off is that we must not be fooled into thinking Blatter and the blatantly corrupt FIFA organisation have done a good job if the 2014 World Cup is a huge success.
Football is the people’s game and the magic that is about to unfold will be 100 per cent down to the players, the coaches and the fans who will create a special atmosphere in the stadiums and across this huge country.
In the opening round of group matches the tournament has the opportunity to hit glorious heights early doors with some fascinating showdowns between much fancied teams in the first few days of the tournament. Defending champions Spain are up against Holland tomorrow, England face Italy on Saturday and Germany start with a showdown against Portugal and the world’s No.1 player Cristiano Ronaldo.
Tonight Brazil kick off the tournament against Croatia as they begin their quest to make amends for their infamous defeat by Uruguay in the 1950 final, the first time they hosted the tournament. The Samba kings are chasing a record sixth World Cup and the linger they remain in sight of that goal the better for the tournament as a whole.
The bookmakers believe this time the hosts are destined for a final showdown with Argentina, a potential duel between Neymar ― player of the tournament at the Confederations Cup last year ― and his Barcelona team-mate, Lionel Messi.
It is a mouth-watering prospect. Meantime, visitors and a global TV audience will savour Brazil’s vast diversity. Ffrom the dramatic backdrop of Rio de Janeiro’s famed Sugarloaf Mountain to Manaus in the heart of the Amazon, where English fans are praying for a winning start on Saturday night for Gerrard, Rooney and the rest of Roy Hodgson’s Boys.