The holy grail: Dyke targets 2022 World Cup
The World Cup is the holy grail of sporting ambition. The spectre of ’66 hangs over English football like a millstone. And year on year it weighs ever heavier.
It’s also the new Football Association chairman’s clarion call to unite the national game and deliver salvation.
Greg Dyke’s chosen metaphor – English football is a “tanker that needs to be turned round”. The deadline – 2022, when the World Cup travels to oil rich Qatar.
No shortage of tankers and indeed oil dollars there, which may or may not have encouraged the FIFA big men to award it their global money-spinner.
On the one hand an upstart city state with no real footballing tradition, on the other a new frontier, ripe for spreading the gospel of the beautiful game.
But as Dyke outlined the steps he’s taking to try and get English football’s hulking old skiff to part the tides – Qatar stalked many a conversation.
Dyke himself has said he doesn’t think it will be possible to hold the World Cup during its hellfire hot summer months. And not a single FA insider I spoke to thought any different. It simply has to move to winter.
There will be hurdles to cross – potential opposition from Europe’s domestic leagues, a timing clash with the 2021 Winter Olympics, and maybe even FIFA embarrassment – but when has FIFA ever cared about saving face?
But before we get there, English football has a big problem.
The way things are going it’s not an outside bet that England wouldn’t even qualify.
Progress to next year’s world cup in Brazil is still in the balance, and the proportion of England-eligible players getting a regular game at the top level is falling through the floor.
In the English Premier League it was down to 32 per cent last year, and if one takes into account the lack of English players bought or sold during the transfer window – the prognosis is not good.
This would be the same Premier League that the new FA chairman once helped create.
Hence Dyke’s insistence today that what he had to say about the future of the game was not a dig at his unruly offspring. In truth he made a pretty honest fist of nixing any suggestion of a rift.
Which is just as well because what he wants, indeed what most fans want, will not come about without the Premier League foursquare behind him.
Dyke announced a football commission, involving the Premier League, plus the Football League, the League Manager’s Association and the Professional Footballer’s Association.
This commission will try and divine the answers to 3 key questions:
Why are so few potential England players making progress in the English game?
What can be done?
And how can you make changes?
“All of English football has to find a solution”, Dyke said today.
The new FA chairman has something of the missionary zeal about him. But he may require something akin to divine intervention to truly deliver English football from damnation. And win the World Cup in 2022.
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