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« The defiant snowman | Main | When a man is tired of snow he is tired of life »

To Russia the World Cup - and, frankly, I don't give a damn

Two weeks ago, in response to those politicians and administrators who felt the need to apologise in advance for the Panorama programme about alleged corruption within Fifa, I wrote: "If that's what it takes to win the World Cup bid, you can stick it".

I feel the same way today, although I tend to agree with those print journalists who argued that only the BBC could "hold the front page" for weeks on end. If a newspaper had got hold of a similar story, they said, the editor would have run with it immediately for fear of losing it to a rival publication. In contrast, BBC current affairs doesn't have any competitors so it could choose its moment (when most of the nation was watching I'm A Celebrity).

Anyway, I would be very surprised if Monday night's Panorama programme had a significant impact on the outcome of today's vote. The reality is that England's bid had so little support that it was dependent on the second and third votes of Fifa's governing board.

And you know what - who cares that we didn't win?

If Russia (and Qatar!!) want to build countless new stadiums, that's up to them. Russia, it is said, will also have to build new airports, new hotels and other infrastructure. Well, let them - and good luck, because they're going to need it.

I shall never forget, when I visited Moscow in 1981, what happened on the morning we were supposed to visit the self-styled Exhibition of Economic Achievements.

Shortly after breakfast we were informed by our Intourist guide that the trip was cancelled. Why, we asked.

Embarrassed silence. Then:

"It always shuts on Wednesday."

Really, we persisted, are you sure?

"Well, er, it's shut for cleaning."

Eventually the truth emerged, but we were sworn to secrecy.

"The roof fell in overnight."


"The roof collapsed."

Some achievement.

What was interesting was the fact that they didn't want anyone to know. It was too much of a blow to Soviet pride and all that.

The following day we visited a space museum that featured a Soviet spacecraft from the Sixties. God knows how they got this thing into orbit because from what I saw it was little more than a Heath Robinson-style tin can.

OK, I exaggerate, but two years later in Washington DC I viewed a US spacecraft from the same era. The difference between American and Soviet technology was like day and night.

Now, thanks to Fifa, we'll have an opportunity to see how much the old Soviet Union has changed. Has the ugly duckling become a swan?

One thing is certain. Don't expect the Panorama team to be welcomed with open arms. Free speech and democracy are not yet seen as virtues in a country that is still governed by an iron fist.

The World Cup? They're welcome to it.

PS. Follow Vladimir Putin on Twitter. Brilliant!

Reader Comments (11)

We are up to our eyeballs in debt, and anyone thinks this load of crap would be good for us must be off their bloddy heads.

Let the bloody russians pay out all the billions it will cost, just to make another batch of footballers rich.

England won, we did not have to shell out like we are doing with the silly bloody Olympics.

December 2, 2010 at 18:16 | Unregistered CommenterJack Straw

So many things today involve money. The Russian mafia have plenty of money.

December 2, 2010 at 20:20 | Unregistered Commenterchas

The odour of corruption in football is palpable! There is more to life than just football - the Russians are welcome to it!

December 2, 2010 at 20:32 | Unregistered CommenterBill C

I watched the English presentation and cringed. It was one shallow populist heart-tugger after another. If I was a FIFA judge, I'd have been reaching for the sick bucket half way through.

That approach seems to work in the molly-coddled UK, but today proves that the rest of the world don't care much for sentimental flannel.

December 2, 2010 at 21:49 | Unregistered CommenterMartin Cullip

Russia has no Smoking ban, however if they do try and bring one in it woun't affect Restraunts,Bars,Clubs.

December 2, 2010 at 21:49 | Unregistered Commenterlisa symmons

There are so many people in this country blaming the media for this but refusing to take a long hard look in the mirror. I think the concept of supply and demand applies here.

I personally believe it is down to the pomposity and arrogance that exudes from this country. Before the results, this country implied that FIFA were corrupt. Following the results they were proven beyond doubt to be corrupt, simply because they had the temerity to turn us down! It is also due to this little national trait of ours that we never get any votes in the Eurovision Song Contest. The World really dislikes us and I'm really starting to understand why.

It's because they're backward and wrong..........

December 2, 2010 at 22:17 | Unregistered CommenterJohnBoyWalton

I couldn't agree more Simon. Having watched the selection ceremony, they should cut to quick, save us all time, and tell us who is going to win the bloody thing as well.

December 2, 2010 at 23:05 | Unregistered CommenterJohn Mallon

Is there something more important than football?
Answers on a postcard............

December 3, 2010 at 1:00 | Unregistered CommenterChrisB

Thank heaven for that! the taxpayer has picked up the bill for the bid (more or less) and the taxpayer would have picked up the bill for the event (more or less) while wealthy corporations would have creamed off the profits (with the Government receiving some tax). Thankfully, this situation has been averted!

I'll watch it on TV (if at all).

Oh, and, by the way, let's make sure that the taxpayer is not picking up the bill for TV rights when the time comes.

December 3, 2010 at 2:20 | Unregistered CommenterJunican

Well our very very clever Mr Putin made a fool of Call Me Dave did he not ? Crafty move Mr Putin. Does Call Me Dave realise whom he is up against ? No i dont either!! Whos next PM ???

December 3, 2010 at 16:59 | Unregistered CommenterPeter James

What a terrific result! I don't care who gets the world cup in 2018 or 2022 or any other time, so long as it is not the UK! As has been said, we just cannot afford it and I am sick and tired of my hard earned money, never mind anyone elses, being used for such purposes.

I just could not believe it when I heard some football pundit, or whoever, say it was very sad, or whatever, as the World Cup was the world's biggest sporting event!

How dare he take away from the hard working atheletes in numerous different sporting events the dedication they put into the Olympics, which is far and away the World's Biggest Sporting Event and leaves football standing millions of miles behind! Why does football promote such bloody arrogance?

As Bill C said, there is more to life than football!

Pity it can't be banned, at least from normal TV, the way smoking has been banned from any 'public' indoor place!

December 5, 2010 at 19:04 | Unregistered Commenterlynladd

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