Connect with us


I’ve been moaning about this World Cup for nearly 12 years but here’s why it’s time to stop the whining and back England

I HAVE been moaning non-stop for 11 years, 11 months and 17 days.

That’s an awful lot of moaning.

The decision to award Qatar the 2022 World Cup has never felt right

My moan-a-thon commenced on the afternoon of Thursday, December 2, 2010 — the day Qatar was awarded the 2022 World Cup.

To be fair, for the first eight years I also had the award of the 2018 World Cup to Russia to moan about.

But ever since that one was done and dusted, I’ve been able to focus my fury ­exclusively on Qatar. And I’m not the only one.

Just about everyone else has weighed in, with good reason, on more or less every single aspect of it.

The human rights record of the Qatari regime; the carbon footprint; the ­timing . . . you name it.

Fifa has been good enough to give us plenty to go on.

More came thick and fast this week as the hordes of journalists arrived in Doha and started whingeing about the pricey pints and soaring ­temperatures.

To be fair, if I was lucky enough to be there, I’d ­probably have the nerve to be having a whinge of my own.

But really, what else was anybody expecting in a dry state in the Middle East?.

Even some fans lucky enough to be there were at it.

Some old boy was on the radio saying how he was being forced to fly in to watch every Wales match from nearby Dubai. Cue an orchestra of tiny violins.

I think we call these gripes First World problems nowadays.

Because the truth of the ­matter is — as ever — that the vast majority of fans won’t be at the World Cup.


They’ll be where they ­usually are every four years.

They’ll be somewhere far more familiar, where it costs much less for a bevvy and you can drink it pretty much whenever you like.

They call it home . . . or the pub.

It’s time to blow the whistle on the Qatar complaints. Enough now. It’s happening.

Let’s hold our noses and enjoy the party.

This is what I’ve resolved to do, having frightened myself working out that I’ll probably only experience another six World Cups in my lifetime.

And I’ll be damned if I’m going to let Fifa or anyone else ruin any one of them for me.

Sepp Blatter announced Qatar would host the World Cup way back in 2010

If I make it to 80, my last major tournament will be the 2046 World Cup, held God knows where. Mars, probably.

I’ll be making the trip, no matter what the political ­situation is there.

I feel sorry for the players. Extravagantly paid they might be, living lives of great luxury, but time stops for no man and they’ll be lucky to have the chance of playing in any more than three World Cups.

If we’re not careful we’ll have them feeling like soldiers sent off to fight in an ­unpopular war, unheralded and uncelebrated.

They deserve better from us. None of this is their fault.

And yet they are now the only ones who can change everything about our attitude to this World Cup.

As the old saying goes, when your team’s winning matches, even the pies taste good.

Yes, they can turn it all round for us, and we’ve got to start getting right behind them to help them do it.

A good start for our boys, followed by progress in the knockout stages accompanied perhaps by a few late dramas,, and nigh-on 12 solid years of moaning will all be forgotten.

When it does, you can bet everyone over there will stop their whining.

They’ll be popping corks on million pound bottles of ­champagne. Maybe.

My mind goes back to ­something Gordon Strachan said to me at the World Cup of 2014.

We were broadcasting from Copacabana Beach.

Luis Suarez biting Giorgio Chiellini was one of the World Cup’s craziest moments

The story of the day had been Luis Suarez trying to make a snack out of Italy’s Giorgio Chiellini.

One player actually biting another? ­Disgraceful!

The Uruguayan was in a world of trouble. A lifetime ban was even mooted.

I suggested to Gordon that Suarez might never play again.

“Of course he will,” laughed Gordon. “Because there is no morality in football.”

He was right. It’s the worst thing about the game, but also the best.

Yes, terrible transgressions of decent, human behaviour may be forgiven or overlooked, because brilliant football trumps everything.

The Suarez-Chiellini chompfest is a case in point.


Chiellini himself wrote in his memoir that not only did he forgive Suarez the bite, he actually admired him for it.

Football will always win out. It’s bigger than all of us, as we’ll see in the coming weeks.

It’s bigger than Fifa or Qatar or Russia or whichever referee or players offend our sensibilities this time round.

Once it gets going, I believe we’ll all get going.

And once England get going, the sky will be the limit.

Qatar — quite unjustly — will feel like the most normal place on Earth, and back home it’ll be like winter isn’t happening.

But we, the fans at home, need to do our bit to get England out of the starting blocks.

Ahead of the women’s Euros this summer I had a hunch our team was going to do something special.

For once — and I mean once — in my football life, I was right. (I had to be right sooner or later. Even a broken clock is right twice a day.)

Almost out of superstition, I hereby repeat the words I wrote in The Sun about England’s women before that tournament started.

I said that it was important to get behind them from the beginning, because it would be no good jumping on the bandwagon when they got to the final and won it.

So, in the spirit of that, I pray to you, myself and all other interested parties: Let the moaning stop and the cheering commence as a ­joyous English march to the final begins.

Bring it on.

The nation will be backing England to end their long wait for the trophy

Click to comment

Leave a Reply


Must See


More in Football