FIFA official explains why England had the best 2018 World Cup bid

Happy Monday. There’s more whining about the 2018 World Cup vote in the British media.

“England had by far the best bid,” “how could they only get two votes,” … yeah, yeah. It’s been four years, get over it. Think how cheap the vodka’s going to be in Ekaterinburg now that the rouble’s tanked. Nizhny Novgorod is on the UNESCO World Heritage List. Is Birmingham? No, it is not.

So this Harold Mayne-Nicholls guy should just give it a rest … wait, you’re saying that despite his name, he’s not English? That he’s a former president of the Chilean soccer federation and was chairman of the FIFA group that assessed the quality of each bid for the 2018 and 2022 tournaments? Oh. Perhaps we should listen, then.

“England were on the top,” he told the Sunday Times. “They had the best concept, the best infrastructure and the people were very much involved.” Yet, despite this conclusion from the man whose opinion might have been expected to carry a fair bit of weight among FIFA’s powerbrokers, England were knocked out in the first round after securing two votes out of a possible 22. And one of those votes was from an English guy.

Out of interest, which was the only 2022 bid you labeled “high risk,” Harold? Wait, don’t bother answering. I think I can guess.

Meanwhile, there’s an intriguing story from the BBC which says that “secret talks between FIFA officials and Sepp Blatter have taken place over his future.” And it seems that those officials weren’t wanting reassurance from the 78-year-old that he does indeed have the secret of eternal life and so can continue as FIFA president forever, as seems likely.

Though Blatter would surely win a fifth term if he stands in May’s election (given his established power base and FIFA’s financial generosity to small associations throughout his tenure), the story floats the idea that he might be tempted to stand aside rather than face the hassle that’s on the horizon. FIFA’s still buried in scandals, and there are two controversial World Cups to come.

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