By Ray Fleming

ONE of FIFA's declared policies is to extend the reach of football to parts of the world where it is not yet established as a major international sport.

From that standpoint its decision yesterday to award the 2018 World Cup finals to Russia and the 2022 event to Qatar was logical, in the same way as the choice of South Africa for 2010. Whether England and Spain and other European soccer centres will therefore want to bother to enter the lists for
2026 and 2030 is a question that need not detain us for the moment but will have to be considered in due course. Without going as far as Britain's Sports Minister, Jeremy Hunt, in thinking that FIFA's 2018 decision yesterday was “a heart-wrenching day for our country” there is no denying that it was a disappointment -- the more so since apparently England did not even survive the first round of voting. The reasons for this failure will be raked over in the coming weeks with a disproportionate amount of blame landing on the Sunday Times and BBC's Panorama for their exposure of dishonesty among named members of FIFA's all-powerful executive committee. The fact is that from the start England's bid has been troubled by disagreement among its key members and by the disruptive resignation of Lord Triesman as its leader last May following his allegations of collusion between Spain and Russia in influencing referees.


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