World Cup shambles brings the flaws of Fifa to light

Well, to use colloquial terms, this whole World Cup saga has been a right royal balls up.

Royal mess: Sepp Blatter has some thinking to do over the scheduling of Qatar 2022
Royal mess: Sepp Blatter has some thinking to do over the scheduling of Qatar 2022

Eyebrows were raised over Fifa’s governance when Brazil was announced as a host in 2007, but the aberrant double-naming ceremony three years ago that cited Russia and Qatar as locations for respective tournaments in 2018 and 2022 served to outline the ineptitude and corruptive flaws of president Sepp Blatter and his well-dressed disciples.

In the atrium of a continent where impunity and other institutional deficiencies had allowed a culture of violence to thrive, Blatter deemed it appropriate to field the globe’s most revered competition on that very patch this year because of the organisation’s rotation system.

Though admired for its footballing excellence, the South American country is a famously hostile compartment of the world renowned for impoverished favella states where major crimes are the norm.

In Sao Paulo, where England take on Uruguay in the newly built arena on June 19th, the US Department of State has rated the criminal threat as “critical” and levels have risen to the extent that it is now considered Brazil’s highest-risk city. While homicide rates in the area showed a 11.54 per cent decline in June last year; felonious homicides, felony deaths, robberies, vehicle robberies, vehicle thefts, bank robberies, “arrastoes” and rape numbers all showed an increase from the comparable six-month period in 2012.

Maybe I’m being too negative, too prejudicial on our host nation, but the figures suggest that opportunistic gang members will be relishing the prospect of cornering a finely clothed European gentleman and dispossessing him of his riches.

Then there’s the hiccup in preparations. No previous host country has ever been so far behind in moulding the infrastructure to cater for such a tournament, with six of the 12 stadiums failing to meet the deadline while delays have also affected work on hotels, airports and roads. Let’s just hope that security measures are slightly more organised.

Moving forward four years, and assuming there’s no change in a disturbingly xenophobic attitude, tourists may find the notoriously racist hub of Russia slightly unwelcoming.

The federal semi-presidential republic is notorious for its controversial, totalitarian teachings in parts. Manchester City’s Ivorian Yaya Toure was subjected to chants in the Champions League Group D victory over CSKA Moskow at Arena Khimki in October, with Roberto Carlos, Peter Odemwingie and Christopher Samba also falling foul to racist abuse on previous occasions.

Next month’s Winter Olympics in Sochi and the Paralympics in March may just expose the archaic beliefs and venomous behaviour of those indoctrinated Eastern European inhabitants.

With security concentrated on the stadia - protecting players and travelling fans from the volatile “ultras” - it may leave surrounding areas such as the Northern Caucasus and other major cities exposed to militancy, terrorist activity and organised crime.

Deadly attacks and insurgency-related violence are still features of life in some regions with increasingly discriminatory states that capitalise on public xenophobia.

In areas like Moscow, racial slurs are ubiquitous and have been universally adopted by politicians and citizens alike.

The Federal Security Service of the Russian Federation, police, armed forces and other intimidating security personnel will certainly have their work cut out in protecting ethnic minorities and other ‘inferior foreigners’ prone to derogatory criticism.

My argument is relatively abridged, due to space constraints, so let’s move on to 2022 and the shambles that is the Qatar World Cup.

Suggestions of bungs, vote-swapping and political pressure immediately engulfed column inches following the farcical election, and though nothing has been proven it does again highlight the damaged and unscrupulous nature of Fifa.

Not only does Fifa’s desire to host a World Cup in winter pilfer the sport’s long-standing traditions, but the proposal also threatens to wreak havoc on domestic calendars as well as other facets of the game.

The magnitude of such a revamp doesn’t even bear considering, with leagues and national associations having to make huge sacrifices to reformulate their calendars.

A World Cup just before Christmas in 2021, as has been suggested, would require a rethink to the lucrative group stages of the Champions League and European Championship qualifiers.

And then a tournament in the New Year of 2022 would step in to the International Olympic Committee’s territory, as it builds toward a winter Games.

FA Cup replays would need to be scrapped to accommodate the switch while the Premier League has condemned the idea with the belief that it would impact on three seasons.

Christmas football domestically is one of the highlights of the year for football fans with the sheer quantity of games providing ample entertainment while testing the resilience and consistency of clubs.

And then there’s the matter of the January transfer window and player contracts and the disruption it could cause in that respect.

A tournament in April or May - with seasons culminating earlier - could be a logical compromise as the term would face too much interruption but it seems the debacle needs a serious rethink in its entirety.