Everybody knows the deal with World Cup venue bids.
You work up the infamous "bid book" for your proposal, running to hundreds of pages, with charts and graphs and 8 X 10 color glossy photos with circles and arrows and a paragraph on the back of each one.
FIFA has a number of issues that you are required to address in your book, like proposed stadiums, number of hotel rooms, transportation facilities, five star restaurants that Chuck Blazer hasn't dined in yet, a whole raft of stuff. In addition to all of that you of course have the opportunity to give your best sales pitch, polish your own apple as it were, and tell everyone all the reasons why your bid is the very bestest one of them all.
Most of all, your bid proposal says "This is how we'll run the World Cup in our country", down to the smallest detail.
After it's all put together, you're required to send a high powered delegation to Zurich to "present" said book to Sepp Blatter in a formal ceremony wherein kowtowing, genuflecting and prostration are optional, but recommended.
Then of course, FIFAs' Executive Committee sits down, starts a nice cheery fire with all the books, and picks a venue based on whatever they feel like basing it on. For proof we need look no farther than the fact that the US bid was the highest rated proposal by FIFAs' numbers crunchers (ie. the people who actually look at the books) while Qatars' was the lowest rated among all the bids for 2018 and 2022. So of course Qatar won.
The important thing, however, is that your bid is your bid. It's all or nothing.
Except of course when you're dealing with FIFA.
So I guess no one should have been surprised when FIFA started working on improving it after the fact.
General Secretary Jerome Valcke - a man Blatter summarily fired a couple of years ago due to "corruption" and then hired as GenSec a couple months later - mentioned to reporters in Abu Dhabi for the Confederations Cup that FIFA was seriously considering moveng the 2022 World Cup to Winter dates to avoid - well holding the thing in the desert in July.
Of course this would mean some serious rearranging of the schedules for virtually every major league in the world - except the incredibly farsighted MLS - but they're sure something can be worked out. The EPL, La Liga, Serie A and the rest won't mind shutting down for three months, so that Qatar can have a World Cup, will they?
Of course Qatar said nothing about this in their bid. They were still focused on air conditioning outdoor stadiums. But FIFA, which is feeling a considerable amount of heat themselves over this whole thing, has the solution to any complaints: they'll simply rewrite the bid.
Goodness knows Sunil The Gutless isn't going to say a word about it.
A couple of days after the World Cup announcement I got some heat myself from some people when I commented that you can in fact make the case for putting the WC in the Middle East for the first time.
Commenters argued that the bid went to Qatar, not the entire subcontinent, and thus it was specious to claim some kind of regional outreach was taking place.
Apparently those people were too busy staring at Shakiras' fine Colombian bootie to listen to the lyrics of the Official World Cup 2010 Anthem she was singing, entitled "This Ones' for Africa".
Indeed, a very big deal was made - more or less continuously - that this was Africas' finals and a source of continent-wide pride.
If you didn't object to all of that flummery - which is of course what it was; Uganda and Nigeria had about as much to do with that Cup as Kansas did - then you can't complain now when they try to sell us on "This One's for the Middle East".
Be all of that as it may, it came as something of a further shock when Volcke - followed a day later by Blatter himself - opined that it would be a splendid notion to hold some matches in "neighboring countries", using Qatar as a kind of hub nation.
Blatter compared it to the doomed Australian bid which, he says, proposed a game or two in New Zealand (probably as a bid for Oceanian support which of course they didn't get), adding that it's "the same thing".
Except of course there's a major difference: Australia included that proposal IN THEIR BID. And while South Africa heavily promoted the "First African World Cup" concept, they didn't suddenly decide to send a few games to Namibia and Mozambique.
Because of course your bid is required - REQUIRED - to include the proposed stadiums and cities and the various existing or proposed ancillary facilities and amenities. It's what they, you know, base the vote on. In theory.
And nowhere in the Qatar bid was there information or specifications on stadiums, hotels, restaurants, airports, mass transit or anything else in Bahrain, the UAE, Jordan, Saudi Arabia, Egypt or any of the other countries who are suddenly seeing World Cup matches in their future.
And lest you think this is simply another of Sepps' imbecilic offhand remarks - does anyone need an example, really? - no less a personage than the head of the West Asian Federation and the Jordanian FA, Prince Ali, half brother of King Abdullah II and scion of the Hashemite family of craven British stooges, is proposing exactly the same thing: that the Qatar World Cup be spread around to other "brother Arab nations".
Which, again, is a splendid notion I suppose but Qatars' voted-on-and-accepted bid contains no mention of any of this.
Furthermore, Ali - his Great-Grandfather was the character that Alec Guinness played in Lawrence of Arabia - is currently being heavily promoted by Saudi Arabia, Iran, the UAE and others for the FIFA Vice Presidency which they will be voting for in three weeks. A seat which is currently held - coincidentally - by Mohammed bin Hammam, a staunch Blatter ally and Qatari national.*
See where this is headed?
All of which of course ought to have Sunil the Gutless screaming, but we know it won't. As is his wont, he'll give us that odd little smirk of his before heading to T&T in a couple weeks to vote for Jack Warner before heading to Zurich to vote for Sepp Blatter.
We have met the enemy and he is Gulati.
And that's to say nothing of Chuck Blazer, who's currently racing around giving interviews like he was in an upcoming Harry Potter movie in what appears to be a concerted campaign to convince us, his fellow countrymen, that he's not in fact in all of this up to his eyebrows.
Oddly, he never seemed to give a damn before. Could it be that his conscience is catching up with him?
But is "Americas' ExCo member" talking about how FIFA is now trying to rebuild Qatars' bid to make it less odious, and how, if the whole thing is being redone that there then needs to be a re-vote based on what amounts to a largely different finals than the one which won the balloting?
That if the idea now is to shut down 3/4 of the leagues in the world and hold matches in the Sudan that those are highly material changes which the parties involved should have had the opportunity to comment on prior to any vote?
That this whole thing, rather than losing the aroma of a put up job, smells worse and worse with each passing day?
* I should have double checked this; Prince Ali is actually running for the spot currently held by Koreas' Dr. Chung Mong-Joo, with whom Sepp Blatter has a very cordial mutual hatred.
Apologies for the error.