What a difference a year makes. This time last year, England were "favourites" to host the World Cup in 2018. Everything looked rosy from our point of view as David Beckham was appointed an ambassador for the bid, and a nation was lifted by the news that this country could soon be welcoming Brazil, Spain and Italy to the greatest show on earth. Football was coming home.
However as we now sit and wait anxiously for the FIFA decision on Thursday, our chances of hosting this prestigious event now look bleak. But why?
The BBC. In truth they have effectively put our bid chances on the cobblers. We now need a miracle to host the first World Cup in this country ever since the glory days of 1966. As £15m (the funding given for the bid) goes down the drain, we can only sit back and reflect on what could have been.
And as Panorama (or deathorama as better described) broadcasted a look into bribery claims for FIFA, little did they know that the public furor was just starting.
Football in this country is the fulcrum of many people’s lives; we sleep, eat and dream about it many hours of the day. We pay out hundreds, even thousands of pounds each year to watch our club and country take on the finest in world football. There is no denying that we are the most passionate nation when it comes to football. Patriotic is the word I like to use.
However, if we are patriotic about our football, the BBC are clearly not.
What were they thinking? Did they seriously need to broadcast a programme three days before 22 men on the FIFA Committee decide our fate? Well of course they shouldn’t have, but those ignorant BBC leaders decided that it would satisfy themselves, and that it was in the public interest.
Or as BBC Executive Editor Clive Edwards stated: "It was Panorama’s job to investigate corruption and wrongdoing."
Yes, it may be in the public interest, but why broadcast it now? Why not in a few months when it will have no effect on our World Cup bid? Comments like those from Mr. Edwards just show how naive the BBC really are.
He went on to add: “Some people have said that it would have been better to do it after the vote, but it is surely nonsense to suggest that you know a process could be flawed and you don’t say anything until after it has happened.”
I read this and laughed. If Mr. Edwards felt that we as a public should know and do something about it before it is too late, then WHY WOULD YOU BROADCAST IT THREE DAYS BEFORE THE ANNOUNCEMENT?
Surely this should have been done months ago in the view of the BBC. Personally they should have waited until after the World Cup decision Day on Thursday.
The truth is that the BBC have ruined the chances of a lifetime for many football fans in this country. After stating that three FIFA officials—Issa Hayatou, vice-president of the Confederation of African Football (Caf), Nicolas Leoz, Head of South America’s Football Confederation and Ricardo Teixeira, Head of the Brazilian Football Confederation—took bribes amounting to millions of US Dollars and French Francs, it has effectively ruined our chances.
The BBC claimed that Mr Hayatou took around 100,000 French francs (£12,900) in 1995 from sports marketing form ISL, which was lobbying to gain lucrative FIFA deals. However, Mr. Hayatou denied this and stated that, "The money was not for me, it was for the 40th anniversary of Caf."
The BBC also stated that they uncovered confidential documents listing 175 payments totalling about $100m (£64m). This included payments to Mr. Teixeira in access of $9.5m (£6m) and Mr Leoz of $600,000 (£384,000).
If there was anybody that felt that there was a glimmer of hope still left for the BBC’s dignity in this matter, then the reaction from FIFA threw this out of the window and condemned what we all fear. That FIFA now have it in for England and our bid for the 2018 World Cup is dead in the water.
FIFA stated that: "In its verdict of 26 June 2008, the Criminal Court of Zug (which investigated such incidents), had not convicted any FIFA officials.”
So in effect the BBC has accused FIFA of lying and covering up scandals in their own organisation, which doesn’t bode well for the reputation of this country.
And to make matters worse, it looks as if Russia has beaten England in winning the 2018 bid. A country that is affected by political scandals, terrorism and constant bad press all over the world. A country that has no infrastructure in place to host a World Cup, unlike England. A transport system which needs serious overhaul, unlike England.
The FA, which is competing with Russia, Spain/Portugal and Netherlands/Belgium for the right to host the tournament, subsequently criticised the BBC for showing the programme.
A statement read: "It is an embarrassment to the BBC. We stand by our previous position that the BBC’s Panorama did nothing more than rake over a series of historical allegations none of which are relevant to the current bidding process. The 2018 team are entirely focused on winning the bid for England."
So as we embark on the final few hours which will decide our fate, we can only look back on what if. What if the BBC had kept quiet? Could the World Cup in 2018 be coming to England? Quite possibly yes, but the BBC have certainly made sure it isn’t.
So as Russia gear up for a World Cup in 2018, many like me will be sitting in an armchair at home watching on television, rather than being at Wembley or Old Trafford enjoying the greatest show on Earth. Thanks BBC.