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YESTERDAY (2 December) the world found out that the 2018 FIFA World Cup was to be held in Russia, and the 2022 FIFA World Cup was to be held in Qatar.

They triumphed in the second round of voting by gaining the magic number of 13 votes. The joint bids from Spain/Portugal and Netherlands/Belgium received seven and two votes respectively. But England crashed out in the first round of voting, only gaining two votes (and one of those votes came from the English FIFA delegate).

How on God’s Earth can the strongest bid of them all get just two votes?! All we would need to do was to expand a couple of stadiums and we’d be laughing.  Earlier this week FIFA gave the England bid 100/100 in every one of their criteria. FIFA president Sepp Blatter has said in the past that England could host a World Cup tomorrow.

So where did it all go wrong? Well I think that FIFA has been exposed as the lying and fixed organisation that it is. The English press has exposed bribery and corruption amongst the FIFA executive committee and FIFA didn’t like it. I also think that these FIFA members don’t give a damn about who they stab in the back. At least five of the committee members ‘assured’ both David Beckham and PRINCE WILLIAM (of all people) that England had their votes. England’s presentation speech was also said to have been the best but it all counted for absolutely nothing.

Anyway, Russia will be hosting it’s (and Eastern Europe’s) first ever World Cup and travelling fans can look forward to the institutionalised racism that is in Russian football. Earlier in the year Lokomotiv Moscow fans unveiled a banner aimed at their former black player and now West Brom striker Peter Odemwingie. Said banner depicted a Banana. The head of the Russian bid, Alexey Sorokin said that: “To receive a Banana is a Russian way of saying ‘you’re a failure’.”

But (and you’ll love this) a Lokomotiv fan who I shall not name replied with this: “Sorokin has told the world that there was no racism in the banner. He described the message as the Russian saying ‘to receive a banana’ signifying a big failure but not racist. I never heard of this saying before.” He continued to say: “We drew the banana as a reference to Odemwingie’s African roots. Every black in Russia is often called ‘monkey’. I believe that Russian fans are racists deep in their souls.” Can you imagine the first game of the 2018 World Cup being Russia vs. somebody like Ghana or Cameroon? I’d be pretty shocked if we didn’t see banners in the same vain as below at that game.

To show you just how fixed I think this vote was; when David Beckham, PM David Cameron and HRH Prince William were in Zurich trying in vain to boost England’s chances, Russian PM Vladimir Putin was in a meeting about Russia’s health service. When Russia was announced as the winner he immediately flew to Zurich.  I have heard that he was told 24 hours in advance that Russia had won – but don’t take my word for it. Also, England’s bid was all over the news in the days before the vote, but on the day of the vote in Russia their bid and the vote was just an And Finally segment on their news agenda. And another thing, World Cup stadia are meant to be scattered all over the host country right, yet the people in Vladivostok wouldn’t be watching any matches in their city.

Anyway, 2018 rant over, now it’s time for the 2022 rant.

Qatar of all countries! What the hell was wrong with the U.S.A.’s bid?! The last time America hosted the World Cup in 1994 it smashed attendance records and made FIFA a huge sum of money (just as England would have done in 2018, well money wise anyway). Australia would have put on a great show, just look at the 2000 Olympics in Sydney or the 2006 Commonwealth Games in Melbourne. Even Japan and South Korea could have put on a good World Cup even though it would have been just 20 years since they co-hosted it together.

But no, FIFA decided to pick a country that has never ever even qualified for a World Cup and has only ever reached the Quarter-Finals of the Asian Cup once back in 2000. Qatar has only ever hosted the Asian Cup once back in 1988, but are coincidently (ha ha yeah right) hosting the tournament next month (January 2011). The national side is ranked a lowly 113th in the world between the Central African Republic and Thailand. Qatar is also an Arab country (so no drinking or sleeping around westerners) and is just half the size of Wales and has a population of fewer than 1.7 million. With all the fans and teams and reporters coming to stay for a month will everybody be able to fit on the island?

Isn’t it funny how the two countries with the weakest (in my eyes) bids yet are rich in gas and oil win the rights to host the World Cup?

Although I will say this in support for Qatar. When the World Cup has finished they will demolish the new stadia and transport them piece by piece to countries in the developing world. A great gift to the footballing world, but I thought you were meant to leave a lasting legacy in your own country?

The sad thing about all this for England is that now the next chance we have of hosting the World Cup is in 2030. China have said that they would like to host the tournament in 2026, but don’t be surprised if it is award to the Principality of Sealand (the former WW2 Mansell Sea Fort six miles of the cost of Suffolk) in the name of expanding the global game.

But justice may be done. 2030 is the 100th anniversary of the first ever World Cup in Uruguay, and nothing would give me greater satisfaction than having England hosting the Centenary World Cup.

After all, we only gave the world the game it loves.

ONE of England’s main rivals in the race to host the 2018 FIFA World Cup has withdrawn their bid.

The U.S.A. bid team have now switched their focus entirely to bidding for the 2022 World Cup. In return England has pulled out of the running to host the 2022 World Cup and will focus on the 2018 bid.

This means that Europe will host the World Cup in 2018, with: Belgium & Netherlands, Russia and Portugal & Spain being England’s opposition.

The countries in the running for the 2022 tournament are: Australia, Japan, Qatar, South Korea and U.S.A.

Indonesia and Mexico pulled out of both races some time ago.

Personally, I’d award England the 2018 World Cup (even if I wasn’t English) and award the U.S.A. the 2022 World Cup. The last time the United States held the World Cup in 1994, the whole thing was a huge success.

FIFA will announce both the 2018 and 2022 winning bids on 2 December.

Looking even further into the future, I’d award the 2026 World Cup (if they bid and deserved it) to either China or Australia, and the 2030 World Cup (the 100th anniversary edition) to the 1930 hosts Uruguay. Why not?

FIFA president, Sepp Blatter, has said that he is considering scrapping draws in the group stages of future World Cups. Under these new proposals, all group matches that end in a draw after 90 minutes will go straight to penalties, assuring a winner in every match.

Now I’m not Blatter’s biggest fan, but I’m going to have to side with him on this one. During the World Cup in South Africa we saw the fear of losing outweighing the will to win. Managers would quite happily settle for a draw in their opening or last group game if that is all that was needed.

In the 48 group matches in South Africa there were 14 draws (29% of matches). Of these 14 draws there were: six 0-0s, six 1-1s and two 2-2s.

2006 saw just 11 group games ending all square, 2002 had 14 draws (but Uruguay came from 0-3 down to draw 3-3 with Senegal) and 1998 saw 16 draws. Just think, with penalties at the end of these matches some teams that didn’t advance form their groups may have done so with the extra points.

FIFA do already use a similar no draws rule in the Beach Soccer World Cup. If a group game ends with the scores the same after the full-time whistle both teams play a period of extra-time, and if the scores are still tied they play a sudden-death penalty shoot-out. The winner is awarded two points instead of three and everybody except the losing team goes home happy.

This wouldn’t be first time that FIFA have played about the group stages in the World Cup. There most recognisable piece of tinkering came in Switzerland ’54. Each group consisted of four teams – two seeded and two non-seeded. But the two seeds didn’t play each other and neither did the two non-seeds, meaning each country only played two group games instead of the normal three. Also, any of these games ending level after 90 minutes were followed by 30 minutes of extra-time. Only then if the scores remained level did each side take away a point. This actually happened in the England vs. Belgium game in the 1954 World Cup. The score at the end of normal time was 3-3, and the match ended 4-4.

As I’ve said earlier, I’m all for the idea of penalties at the end of a drawn group match because the fans don’t want to watch a dull 0-0 – Brazil vs. Portugal for example, and because the law of averages states that England will win on penalties again eventually.

But what I am not a fan of is Blatter’s plan of bringing back the awful ‘Golden Goal’. This rule states that the first goal in extra-time wins the match for the scoring team. But could you imagine the outcry if the ‘Golden Goal’ rule had been used in the 1966 Final? Geoff Hurst’s crossbar goal would have won the World Cup, and we never would have heard those immortal words from commentator Kenneth Wolstenholme: “And here comes Hurst. He’s got… some people are on the pitch, they think it’s all over. It is now! It’s four!

We also would have not witnessed what has been dubbed: ‘The Game of the Century’. This was a 1970 World Cup Semi-Final between Italy and West Germany at the Azteca Stadium (Mexico City) in front of a crowd of 102,444 people. Italy took the lead after just eight minutes, and West Germany equalized in injury-time at the end of the second half. West Germany then took the lead in the 94th minute and the win if the match had the ‘Golden Goal’ rule. But Italy scored on 98 and 104 minutes to take a 3-2 lead, only for West Germany to score in the 110th minute to make it 3-3. But Italy scored just a minute later whilst the TV cameras still showed replays of West Germany’s third goal. Italy won the ‘Game of the Century’ 4-3 after extra-time.

So, to sum up. It’s a ‘yes’ for no more draws in the group stages, but a ‘no’ for the return of the ‘Golden Goal’.