Monday, 6 December 2010
The reaction of the British media and a fair section of the public to FIFA's decisions to select Russia and Qatar for the 2018 and 2022 World Cups has for me been embarrassing.
On one web site that I frequent a football fan responded to charges of arrogance by saying that England was entitled to be arrogant - we have won every war except one in 500 years and virtually every modern sport originated here! What a great sales pitch that would have been. Given that almost super human record it is hard to explain how we lost the Empire and perform so badly in most international competitions!
I have to say that I found the involvement of the grandson of the Queen particularly embarrassing. His joking reference in his sales pitch to the forthcoming royal wedding and the accompanying slide of a festive Buckingham Palace seemed to fall flat, and deservedly so. Of course we know that the UK is second to none in putting on an impressive show, but to its credit FIFA is looking for more than that: it seems to have its eye on the future rather than the past.
Personally I was impressed by the Qatar bid - particularly its promise to dismantle most of the stadiums after the world cup and to rebuild them in poorer countries. I am all for spreading the oil wealth around.
To combat the extreme heat which is a feature of Qatar and also most of the world's poorer countries, the planned stadiums will have revolving roofs, air conditioning and, most importantly, will be powered by solar energy.
To my complete surprise I find that the pilot 500 seater stadium which was built in less than four months and obviously impressed FIFA was designed by a British Company, Arup Associates. Now that seems to me to be a real cause for celebration and an achievement in which we can take some pride. Unfortunately it does not sell newspapers.