International football is actually all about glory. There’s money in it for Sepp Blatter and his mates at FIFA but it’s not a serious business like European club football; livelihoods and futures don’t depend on the result. Why try to grind out a nil-nil draw and win on penalties when the whole world is watching? Why not try to score more goals than the other team?
I’d have been predisposed to enjoy Nick Hornby’s World Cup sum-up anyway, and then he went ahead and declared Belgium/USA “probably the best World Cup match of the 21st century”.
When Qatar was awarded the 2022 World Cup, everyone pretty much agreed that they had bought it illicitly. Qatar is utterly unsuitable for a massive outdoor sports tournament, and utter corruption is more or less how FIFA rolls. As The Telegraph discovered… yep:
Jack Warner, the former vice-president of Fifa, appears to have been personally paid $1.2 million (£720,000) from a company controlled by a former Qatari football official shortly after the decision to award the country the tournament.
Deadspin‘s analysis notes Warner’s history of suspicious circumstances:
Warner, the former president of CONCACAF, is no stranger to controversy. In 2011, the Trinidadian was accused of demanding cash and gifts from England’s FA in exchange for his 2018 World Cup vote. Later that year, Warner was caught on tape urging Caribbean Football Union members to accept envelopes full of money to back Mohamed Bin Hammam’s bid for FIFA president.
Bin Hammam was banned for life; Warner stepped down, putting him beyond the reach of any FIFA punishment. But the FBI is said to be investigating the Caribbean-based fraud (payments for which, according to the Telegraph, were routed through American banks). “It’s shaping up to be a major case,” one U.S. official told Reuters.
The FBI is investigating, while the relevant parties in the United States are surely quietly sending emails with subjects like “you know, our reliable, well-maintained, fully-functional infrastructure is available in 2022…”