A nation disappointed

Since the World Cup host for 2018 was handed to Russia earlier today, I’ve spent most of the hours since on Twitter immersed in a full-on inquisition into who was to blame for England’s failure?

Such is the arrogance of us as a nation, that no one is happy to accept Russia won the bid on merit – and whilst I appreciate how ridiculous it sounds to agree with the masses after that statement, I don’t either. You see, I could have accepted the World Cup going to Spain & Portugal over England as they already have the stadia and infrastructure to host such a prestigious competition. They’re also European and World champions and are as obsessed with the sport as we are.

Russia meanwhile is like being transported back to the 1980’s. Hooliganism is still commonplace and racism at football games remains a major problem. Not only that, but this is a country with a government constantly having to defend itself from allegations of corruption and links to the mafia. They are also the country least prepared to host a World Cup and require extensive development and investment to be ready on time for 2018 – a problem they have to deal with in the middle of a global recession!

I suppose the true nature of the World Cup is that it is supposed to leave a legacy of development and unity, and maybe it’s ignorant of us to assume that won’t be the case in Russia? Still, I find it extremely difficult to believe we’ll see any major progression as a result of the World Cup in Russia, but whatever the reasoning is behind their selection as hosts, it doesn’t answer the initial question of who is to blame for our own failure?

The fingers have been pointed at everyone from Sepp Blatter to Chelsea’s billionaire owner over the past few hours, but for me, the problem starts and ends with the Sunday Times and our countries insatiable appetite for gloom and scandal.

Amongst an endless list of moaning tweets from various journalists, was an absolute gem from The Times’ James Ducker who reminded us that Sepp Blatter is on Twitter and suggested we send our thoughts. Clearly this is a man who has never heard the advice given to those who live in glass houses!

The sheer irony of a journalist from The Times pointing fingers at Sepp Blatter for our failings was almost enough to send yours truly over the edge. To sit and type away in a patriotic manner when your own newspaper instigated the backlash that caused the biggest blow to England’s bid was a truly remarkable attempt to divert blame elsewhere!

I’m not suggesting there isn’t corruption in FIFA, nor am I suggesting the newspapers shouldn’t be looking to report such unforgivable acts of selflessness, but the consequences of their “sting operation” are what really cost us the World Cup – not a couple of dodgy executives who attempted to use their position for personal gain.

The actions of The Sunday Times was nothing short of entrapment, designed to fuel our nations obsession with gloom and scandal – we just don’t do good news! Rather than using their immense influence in a positive and patriotic way to aid England’s efforts in bringing the World Cup home, they chose instead to undermine the efforts of thousands of people across the country by setting a couple of FIFA executives up for an epic fall, which in turn, turned the rest of the committee against us.

Whilst the actions of those who chose to use their position for personal gain are indefensible, so too are those of the Sunday Times. These two executives only ever attempted to sell their votes because someone presented the opportunity to them. Without the Times involvement, we don’t know what could have happened. The chances are that no one else in the world would have had the audacity to approach committee members in an attempt to buy votes, and they may have even voted for England.

If this was a case of the Sunday Times catching them in the act, then that’s fair enough, but putting the knife in someone’s hand makes you just as guilty in my mind.

The consequences of The Times’ sting were easy enough to foresee, so if they really are as patriotic as James Ducker is now trying to make us believe, then why not wait until the vote was over to reveal such a devastating story? If the men involved were really as corrupt as The Times would like us to believe, then why not do some proper journalism and chase sources and paper trails to reveal a truth not manipulated by The Times themselves?

The answer is simple I suppose – it sells papers! While ever our appetite for scandal remains, the media will continue to artificially engineer it for us.