Tom Peck: Perhaps Sepp Blatter and Co have figured that by the time Qatar 2022 comes around fans will be enthralled by fantasy embezzlement

Come World Cup time, the players are knackered and the football's crap

In fairness to Fifa, whose investigation into corruption in the Qatar World Cup bid will conclude as planned on Monday without having looked at the millions of leaked documents offered to it by The Sunday Times, it is already June now, it's far too hot to be considering any fresh allegations. Much more sensible, surely, to move the whole investigation to the winter, or even better, not to do it at all? And besides, it's party time. From the dark heart of the Brazilian jungle all the way to its incomparably golden coast, the excitement is building.

In makeshift huts, housewives are soaking the ends of torn-up rags in jars of petrol, as their navvy husbands clamber urgently up and down the scaffolds in the still unfinished stadiums. The water-cannons are full to bursting, the tear-gas on ice, the make-up freshly caked on the faces of the armies of child prostitutes and, much closer to home, the final fragrant notes are being stirred into the next bucket of excrement tomorrow's newspapers will launch from point-blank range right down the already soiled robes of Qatar's football overlords.

It is tempting to wonder how on earth Fifa gets away with it, but the answer is obvious. No one who matters cares. The fans don't care. The sponsors don't care. When the whistle finally blows in Arena Corinthians in Sao Paulo on Thursday night, a football-addicted planet will get its first sweet quadrennial pull on the World Cup crack pipe and all will be right again.

It is this addiction that hides from the football fan the extraordinary truth. Here is an organisation that makes billions from doing precisely nothing.

Think of the World Cup as a movie, and Fifa its Hollywood impresario. It doesn't pay for its locations – that's the host's job. It doesn't pay its actors – that's their clubs' job. Yet still it trousers all the box office takings and the huge product placement fees. (All right, so it doesn't get the cash for the actual tickets, but for most fans the box office is their TV screen, and the wildly lucrative broadcast rights for that are Fifa's to sell).

The leading national football associations and the powerful clubs know, if they acted together, they could break it. Gazza's tears, Rossi's rolling eyeballs, Zidane's forehead have always belonged to them. They don't have to hand them all over entirely gratis for a clique of lawyers to sell the advertising space on, but they don't have the stomach for the fight.

Your half-hearted cynic might think Qatar 2022 could cross the tipping point. Terrible, even for the fans at home, at least in the powerful European nations, trying to enjoy a World Cup in November or December when it's cold and dark outside, the barbecue's in the shed, and the beer garden's shut.

And eight long years to come of continual allegations (dare one say it, proof?) of the most rancid corruption that might make even the men at Budweiser and adidas and McDonald's start to think twice.

But it's likely the Fifa men have gamed this all out long ago.

It won't have gone unnoticed that of late, come World Cup time the players are knackered, the football's crap, there are no magical hidden talents unearthed, no great shocks, just for the most part underperformance, a lot of very edgy 1-0s, and a hell of a lot of penalties.

It might just be, then, that by the time Qatar comes around, Blatter and his acolytes have calculated that it will only be the outrageous scandal and corruption over hosting rights that will maintain any interest in the tournament itself.

And if you can stomach the stench, it might be fun. Imagine little kids sticking up corruption wallcharts in their bedrooms, swapping stickers in the playground of their favourite blazer-wearing African sports ministers and shady Swiss bankers.

Hear the roars of laughter emanating from lager-soaked pub tables where grown men mercilessly mock each other's performances in their fantasy embezzlement leagues, with big prizes on offer from the newspapers for whoever can secretly channel the most virtual cash out of their nation's national coffers and into the offshore bank accounts of corrupt sports administrators. "This lad, he's only gone and stuffed half a mil under the Ghanaian's hotel door! He ain't even on the Ex-Co! Mug!"

Then there'll be the low-rent comedians of the day popping up as talking heads, ruminating hilariously in archive clip shows about their favourite World Cup stitch-up: "Remember that Azerbaijani bloke? What was his name? Huge beer gut. Wore a cape. Held the tournament in his own back garden? HIS OWN BACK GARDEN! Poor little Wilfried Zaha. One loose volley into the rhododendrons, had his head chopped clean off."

Just think, the venal vote-casting could be broadcast live throughout the world – all the fun of the Eurovision Song Contest, without the misery of the actual songs, complete with Ray Winstone's face popping up in the ad breaks. "Alright. You wan anuva one? Souf Sudaaaan. Still mired in sectarian straggle, but most amenable to the ol' sly one. 'Av a bang on nat!"

Of course, it could possibly be that in the baking desert of Qatar, Fifa has finally flown too close to the sun, the waxy wings of its private jet melted away, but don't 'av a bang on that any time soon.

peopleFrankie Boyle responds to referendum result in characteristically offensive style
Arts and Entertainment
'New Tricks' star Dennis Waterman is departing from the show after he completes filming on two more episodes
tvHe is only remaining member of original cast
Arts and Entertainment
tvHighs and lows of the cast's careers since 2004
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
New Articles
Life and Style
Couples have been having sex less in 2014, according to a new survey
Arts and Entertainment
musicBiographer Hunter Davies has collected nearly a hundred original manuscripts
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Bleacher Report

Daily Quiz
Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Day In a Page

Scottish referendum: The Yes vote was the love that dared speak its name, but it was not to be

Despite the result, this is the end of the status quo

Boyd Tonkin on the fall-out from the Scottish referendum
Manolo Blahnik: The high priest of heels talks flats, Englishness, and why he loves Mary Beard

Manolo Blahnik: Flats, Englishness, and Mary Beard

The shoe designer who has been dubbed 'the patron saint of the stiletto'
The Beatles biographer reveals exclusive original manuscripts of some of the best pop songs ever written

Scrambled eggs and LSD

Behind The Beatles' lyrics - thanks to Hunter Davis's original manuscript copies
'Normcore' fashion: Blending in is the new standing out in latest catwalk non-trend

'Normcore': Blending in is the new standing out

Just when fashion was in grave danger of running out of trends, it only went and invented the non-trend. Rebecca Gonsalves investigates
Dance’s new leading ladies fight back: How female vocalists are now writing their own hits

New leading ladies of dance fight back

How female vocalists are now writing their own hits
Mystery of the Ground Zero wedding photo

A shot in the dark

Mystery of the wedding photo from Ground Zero
His life, the universe and everything

His life, the universe and everything

New biography sheds light on comic genius of Douglas Adams
Save us from small screen superheroes

Save us from small screen superheroes

Shows like Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D are little more than marketing tools
Reach for the skies

Reach for the skies

From pools to football pitches, rooftop living is looking up
These are the 12 best hotel spas in the UK

12 best hotel spas in the UK

Some hotels go all out on facilities; others stand out for the sheer quality of treatments
These Iranian-controlled Shia militias used to specialise in killing American soldiers. Now they are fighting Isis, backed up by US airstrikes

Widespread fear of Isis is producing strange bedfellows

Iranian-controlled Shia militias that used to kill American soldiers are now fighting Isis, helped by US airstrikes
Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Shoppers don't come to Topshop for the unique
How to make a Lego masterpiece

How to make a Lego masterpiece

Toy breaks out of the nursery and heads for the gallery
Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Urbanites are cursed with an acronym pointing to Employed but No Disposable Income or Savings
Paisley’s decision to make peace with IRA enemies might remind the Arabs of Sadat

Ian Paisley’s decision to make peace with his IRA enemies

His Save Ulster from Sodomy campaign would surely have been supported by many a Sunni imam