As we embark on the rollercoaster ride that follows the predictably unpredictable trajectory of the fortunes of the England football squad, is there enough time or space given to the wider implications surrounding the staging of what must surely be the biggest show on earth?
Will the true cost, not only the economic, be considered and accounted for? When I say true cost, I mean the social and environmental ones as well as the many billions that will change hands before, during and after the show has left town.
With the full glare of the world’s media exposing every aspect of the host country’s culture, as well as its ability to build stadia and grow grass, will the spotlight illuminate, as many Brazilian protesters wish, the ludicrous contradictions in staging such an event?
How can any country truly justify finding the money to host football matches, when so many of its own inhabitants live in such hardship? It's a case of beauty and the beast with football. The beautiful game, simple but universally engaging, constantly being undermined by the ugly, beast-like exploitation of its ruling body and the entourage of agents and parasites that feed from the underbelly of one of the biggest cash cows ever.
It isn’t just the latest speculation and revelations concerning the potential irregularities and dodgy dealings that have allegedly taken place with the Qatari bid, more the suspicion that that is how the governing body has always done its business. Our own national game has had a brown paper bag/barrow boy element to it. There have been more back hands than in a lifetime of Wimbledon finals. If the stories are to be believed, the international governing body has made corruption standard practice. It is to the shame of the universal game that it has never been considered an open and honest broker.
Imagine the good that football could do if its objectives were to improve the lives of the poor and disadvantaged instead of lining the pockets of the, allegedly, corrupt hierarchy. If it used its tremendous financial and political clout it could positively influence the life chances and living conditions of some of the less developed outposts of the football landscape. The whole bidding process should be turned on its head. FIFA should nominate the country with the least ability to host the event and then plough its billions into not only stadia but all the infrastructural needs of that underdeveloped country through schools, health, housing and transport, leaving the host country markedly better off than it was before the event had been staged.
Then it may go some way to cleansing its soul from the dark, festering abyss it now inhabits.
FIFA have a lot of ground to make up. It wouldn’t surprise me if the investigation into the Qatari bid is either washed a whiter shade of pale or kicked so far into the long grass that Sepp Blatter will be long dead before he and his accomplices are ever brought to book.
What are the odds on match disruption or cancellation due to the brassed-off Brazilian protests? Imagine if the whole competition had to be abandoned because the protesters realised that between the World Cup and the Olympics, they would never have a better chance to make a point or make a stand. Obviously if Brazil, as many people suspect, are winning and have the potential to win outright, the protests will fade, until after the celebrations have died down and will be cranked up again in time for the Olympics. However, if they are knocked out, the chances of the tournament going on without incident become much slimmer.
To cover all bases, we should pray for a Brazil v England final, with England just edging it, (on penalties of course!) What odds on integrity being the winner?