Friday, December 3, 2010

The morning after

Well folks here we are together again. Here are some thoughts about yesterdays World Cup voting.

Please note, these are personal opinions and should not reflect on any organization I represent in any way.

Just to recap here were my predictions:

1. Russia
2. England
3. Iberia (Spain/Portugal)
4. Belgium/Netherlands

1. USA
2. Australia
3. Qatar
4. Japan
5. Korea Republic

As we have learned here were the actual results from FIFA:

1. Russia
2. Iberia (Spain/Portugal)
3. Belgium/Netherlands
4. England

1. Qatar
2. USA
3. Korea Republic
4. Japan
5. Australia
Two things are clear from comparing the two to me, in hindsight.

First, I tremendously underestimated the vitriolic rubbish FIFA can spew and just how insular they all are. Let's think about it for just a second. England is the modern creator of football, and had one of, if not the, best bid for 2018, yet only garnered 2 votes and were knocked out after the first round of voting. The England bid committee is bent, and I don't blame them. Not because they lost, and not because of what the BBC press did in uncovering systemic corruption in FIFA (in fact I applaud it, and they too are holding their heads high), but rather in the bold face lies that the FIFA EXCOMM told them throughout the process. With this I agree with the England bid team, the FIFA EXCOMM needs to have the fortitude to tell the truth, but am not surprised some took the cowards way out.

Second, I underestimated the political component of the bidding. I can not explain the Qatar vote too many other ways. Yes there can be bold faced corruption. One article stated, tongue in cheek, that the reason the presentation started about 30 minutes late was the tire burst on the wheel barrel Mr. Blatter was using to transport cash to his bank account courtesy of Qatar. A softer view may be that as Mr. Blatter departs as president of FIFA he has brought football to places in the world that may have never dreamed of it in their lifetime. Japan, Korea, Africa, and now Russia and the first ever World Cup in the Middle East.

There is a less soft side to this as well and it is that the US may again be shunned by the world as we continue to lose stature on the world's stage, not just with FIFA. In particular is there a possibility for some of the US's current popular views on Islam to be a cause for this? I agree this may be a bridge too far, but I don't discount it. Is this "the world" telling the US "we accept Islam, you should too?" Maybe it is really just the money as Qatar may be a foothold into a very wealthy region of the world.

After all, some had said that the US had the best bid, and the least risky certainly as compared to Qatar who has the most risky bid. Or was it the fact that Qatar is said to be dedicating all the used stadias to poor countries? Did FIFA ignore that the US is one of the most generous countries is the world for giving to such organizations? We could go head to head all day and get more mystified by the choice.

Was it just time for something different?
Something creative from FIFA?

We may never know for sure, but as I sit here, it may just be a little of everything that did not go our way.

I will say there are some folks who have ideas about it though ... from Twitter:

... and yes, that one is the real LD. Ouch.

... and no, that is not the real Blatter ... but it is funny.

So what now? Should US Soccer take some action on the bid committee that spent millions on a landslide vote that did not go our way?

That one may just happen on its own.

Let's take the US Soccer referee program as an example (this result does not help us to get a referee to a future World Cup by the way ... never mind the screw-ups within US Soccer that may have caused that in 2010), here is a list of folks who are out or on their way out ... yes folks you heard some of it here first.

Esse Baharmast
Brian Hall
Julia ILaqua
Dave McKee
Paul Tamberino (and getting sued on the way too)
Dick Triche

If this is any indication, we may soon see an exodus from US Soccer corporate as well. This has to be a particular poor result for the US Soccer business in general, and a head or two may roll as a result.

For our part, we will continue to learn from THE game and grow from it, in our backyards, and yes, even in Russia and Qatar.

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