Boris Johnson has hit back at FIFA after the failure of England’s 2018 World Cup bid – by rescinding his offer of a free stay for the delegation at the Dorchester Hotel during the Olympics. Rival bidders Russia were awarded the World Cup last week with that famous footballing nation Qatar hosting the event in 2022.
In what boriswatch.com described as “one of the most spectacularly hilarious displays of sour grapes ever seen in international sport” the mayor probably won the approbation of millions of English football fans, though he has yet to comment on his decision. But given the BBC’s report on the tax concessions demanded by FIFA of a host nation back in May, George Osborne presumably can’t be the only government minister to be breathing a secret sigh of relief. Exemptions included ‘all revenues, profits, income, expenses, costs, investments and any and all kind of payments, in cash or otherwise’, potentially costing the country a huge amount of lost revenue and with Russia facing a bill of around £10bn to prepare for the event, it’s certainly not small change.
FIFA have been heavily criticized for the way in which the voting was handled, not to mention the investigations by the BBC’s Panorama programme and the Sunday Times over alleged corruption by its officials, which some have claimed influenced the voting against England. Although Boris Johnson has his hands full with preparations for the Olympics, he was reportedly ‘incensed’ by FIFA’s decision, as were others in England’s delegation: “As far as we are concerned they can stay in a B&B in the Old Kent Road and pay for it themselves to boot”, said one. In his column for the Telegraph, Boris describes himself as “vibrating with Useless Anger” at the same time as apparently suggesting to David Cameron that he call an SAS strike on FIFA, perhaps a tad draconian. London will now have to content itself with just the one major sporting event after all; at least we won’t be paying for Sepp Blatter et al. to live it up in luxury while it happens.