|Qatar's World Cup record (en.wikipedia.org)|
Not all people believe that. I've spoken to some folk who are pleased to see Qatar hosting the greatest of tournaments in 2022. Fine, if you support the nation of well under two million people with no current facilities, a totally inappropriate climate, no democracy and that has never, ever qualified for the tournament by merit or otherwise then I'm happy for you. My feelings about the process have already been stated, and that is why I believe that England and other well-known football nations should boycott at least one World Cup.
The aim of the boycott would be to discredit FIFA, register our disgust at the blatant corruption and megalomania going on within the group and most importantly pressure them to reform. We should make clear that we are not disputing the decisions already made as that would make us look sore losers, rather we have to press for reform so that the same farce cannot repeat itself in future.
More specifically, we must call for voting to be public, not secret. We should push for a disclosure of interests including any payments or lobbying interests of FIFA committee members in a similar way to the system used by western parliaments. We could also push for a public written summary of the final vote by each committee member, or some similar token of public interest. A statement of values and aims by FIFA in selecting candidate nations is essential, too. There has been one too many nations with human rights abuse, corruption and total lack of democracy involved in World Cup hosting lately and the pathetic argument from FIFA that gifting the tournament to them helps makes things better does not stand up the the tiniest amount of scrutiny.
Why would a boycott work? Well consider that FIFA has been compared to a global government in several circles this year. After all, they have income and power well above many nations. But while governments must gain legitimacy by appeasing voters or beating them into submission (Burma, Zimbabwe, etc.), FIFA gains its power by the football prestige of its members. If the countries mistreated in the voting such as Spain, Portugal, Japan, England, Belgium and Holland and even Australia and the US withdrew from the World Cup, that would strike a humongous blow to the tournament's prestige, popularity and profits. In other words, FIFA would lose out on everything they care for.
It's going to be hard. As a success-starved nation where football is the closest we have to a modern religion, it's going to be painful to watch a tournament and not have our lads to cheer. We'll get over it though, just like in USA '90 when we had to pretend we cared about the Irish side. Of course, we'll lose out financially too. Other nations will suffer a similar stress but it will be "short term pain for long term gain".
Perhaps the great Gary Lineker said it best: "People keep telling me we have to play the game differently, that we are too straight for our own good. I don't think that is the case. We just do things the right way. But if that is what has cost us the World Cup, then forget it - maybe it's not worth having."
Let's make it worth having again.