England, which lost out to Russia for the right to host the 2018 World Cups, has offered to step in and host the 2022 tournament if it is taken away from Qatar.
Although there have been no suggestions that either Russia or Qatar will be stripped of the right to host the next two tournaments, England has wasted little time offering to step in to fill this non-existent void.
Answering ministerial questions in the UK parliament, Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport, John Whittingdale, called for major change within FIFA following the decision of Sepp Blatter to step down as president, amid allegations about corruption and questions over the awarding of the 2018 World Cup to Russia and the 2022 event to Qatar.
“In order to achieve the reforms that all of us believe are vitally necessary for FIFA the first requirement was a change of leadership,” he said. “We have now obtained that, but that is the beginning of the process, certainly not the end of it.”
Whittingdale was asked by Richard Graham, the Conservative MP for Gloucester, whether England “would be in a position” to host the 2022 World Cup if it was removed from Qatar.
“In terms of the decision to hold the 2022 World Cup in Qatar, that is obviously something where we’re watching the investigation, but obviously that decision stands,” Whittingdale replied.
“If it were decided to change that, I think as the chairman of the English FA observed, if Russia hosts the World Cup in 2018 it would seem very unlikely that another European country would host it in 2022.
“But obviously, if FIFA came forward and asked us to consider hosting it, we have the facilities in this country, and of course we did mount a very impressive if unsuccessful bid to host the 2018 World Cup.”
The daily reminders by those such as Whittingdale that England could host the 2018/2022/any World Cup, do reinforce the belief that self interest rather than principle is the motivating force at work when it comes to the criticism of the bidding process. Moreover, these none-too-subtle hints do little to allay the growing feeling among the Arab nations (in particular) that sour grapes and a hint of racism underpin the English opposition to Russia and Qatar staging the World Cup.