December 2 2010 was a watershed day for football. Fifa voted to award two World Cups simultaneously, 2018 to Russia and 2022 to Qatar. The decisions, and the general influence of the oil and gas nations, were a shock. In hindsight, we were naive in thinking Fifa would hold out against geopolitical puppeteers stringing football along as a prop in their strategies, subterfuge, and oil and armaments deals. Why would they, given the lure of largesse?

The 22 men who voted were not interested in the morality of holding the world’s greatest sporting event in an authoritarian regime that had just invaded Georgia, or the ridiculousness of a World Cup being hosted in frazzling heat by a tiny desert country with a limited embrace of inclusivity, and even less footballing heritage. They were not put off by Qatar’s internet censorship, its outlawing of criticism of the ruling family, nor that press freedom is nonexistent. How they were persuaded has not (yet) been criminally proven, but th...

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