Press reaction to 2018 failure

So. The World Cup will not be coming to England in 2018. It seemed almost inevitable yet the shock and outrage that greeted the decision indicates that some quarters thought we had it in the bag.

On Monday evening Panorama aired its 'investigation' into allegations of FIFA corruption and I blogged to say I was disappointed by the poor standards of investigative journalism exercised by Panorama but ultimately backed their decision to run the programme.

But today, many of the papers are full of bile and anger about the decision and many are indicating it was a fix.

  • The Daily Mirror is convinced that money must have changed hands to secure the World Cup for Russia in 2018 and Qatar in 2022
  • The Sun's homepage (right) called for a corruption probe (sounds painfully like something the Spanish Inquisition would use), claiming that Russia has been 'bunged' the World Cup.
  • The Daily Telegraph thundered that it was A Disgrace, adding the England had been lied to
  • Even The Independent got in on the act, claiming that England feared foul play
Most seem to have forgotten the spurious allegation that the BBC had cost us the World Cup. It was an allegation that had featured prominently and amusingly in The Sun on Tuesday. It is an allegation repeated by England bid chairman Andy Anson today, alongside a claim that we probably should take our toys home and never bid for the World Cup again.

The Sun's response to Panorama wasn't truly surprising - after all there is no hypocrisy like red top hypocrisy as I discussed in an earlier blog about the excellent film Starsuckers. Surely The Sun must appreciate that reporting on corruption is pretty well timeless, unlike labelling a mentally ill boxing star Bonkers Bruno or running a picture of a topless Royal bride-to-be taken a decade earlier. However, Sun readers seem to have believed the article as Josh Halliday of the Guardian reported that the Beeb had been inundated with complaints since Russia got the nod.

But back to today's coverage. What is obvious from all the coverage is that the media agrees on one thing: it is beyond comprehension that Russia got the bid over England.

The Daily Mirror states:
Russia is a country where, as Wikileaks showed, it's difficult to tell politicians and the Mafia apart because corruption is so rife.

Black and Asian footballers suffer abuse from racist supporters. The new Tsar, Vladimir Putin, threatens the fledgling democracy. Neighbouring countries are warned that gas pipelines will be shut if they refuse to bow to Moscow.

It is a classic myth of British media. It is othering. It is the 'factory setting' of the British media standing up and shouting from the rooftops: "But we are the best. No-one can do it like us and just look at those other countries. They have horrific problems."

No mention that our Lord Triesman was caught (admittedly in a pretty shabby sting) spouting apparently groundless allegations that Spain was prepared to bribe referees or that recent hooliganism is threatening to undermine the sheen of respectability applied to English football after the shame of Heysel in 1985.

No mention of the fact that racism has still not been kicked out of English football or that our leading players seem incapable of behaving in a way that represents the game well.

No. If England lost, it must be down to skulduggery, underhand tactics and outright corruption because that his how the 'other' behaves

Of course, the Daily Mail has another view. According to the Daily Mail, we lost the bid because we had too many foreigners in our own bid video. Images of the Premier League's popularity in places like Africa and Asia must be to blame. If only we had a couple of pictures of bobbies-on-the-beat, paintings from Constable and, dare we suggest, some choice words from Enoch Powell, all would have been different.

To be surprised by Xenophobia in the Daily Mail is akin to being surprised by David Cameron's failure to grasp the economic plight of the lower classes. Still, it was shocking even by their standards.

I for one will look forward to the World Cup in Russia.

Yes I am frequently appalled by the lack of democracy in that country and yes, it has problems with corruption. But when we see our own policemen 'getting away with murder', our own politicians backtracking on promises for a sniff of power and attempts to stifle legitimate protest, are we sure that we can say that it is just them 'others'.


  1. Your points are very valid but as someone who has been screaming for years for the corruption in football to be dealt with it's a bitter pill that I'm willing to take. I hope this does spur people on and it does force a change within FIFA, then hopefully in the FA and then it feeds down to the lower leagues. I hope this not because I think we were robbed out of the World Cup but because corruption at all levels is killing this game. Yes the media are being blinkered, yes the Panorama show wasn't excellent and yes I'll take it all if it means the corruption is dealt with.

    I guess it's just a matter of how desperate you are to see the reform... and I'm really really desperate.

  2. Cheers Dave. I agree with you completely.
    Rugby Union has taken over as my main sport but I fear it is using football as a role model and will be in the same state in 25 years.