OPINION: FIFA refunds won’t heal Sheffield football fans’ broken hearts

Sepp Blatter
Sepp Blatter
Have your say

They say football can be a very unfair game at times.

One minute you’re set for three points, and in just a few moments of madness or a dodgy refereeing decision, you can be heading for the turnstiles with nothing to celebrate.

It’s a feeling Sheffield football fans have probably come to know quite well over the years.

But it’s one thing to be strung up on the pitch. It’s quite another to be facing a footballing injustice thanks to a decision by one of the very bodies we trust to make the right call for our city and our country’s sporting future.

Today, The Star reveals that Sheffield leaders put £240,000 of taxpayers’ money towards England’s failed World Cup 2018 bid.

Sheffield was one of 12 host cities shortlisted to hold matches, and many of our city’s leaders spent a lot of time and effort putting together a 480-page bid for the World Cup for Sheffield.

They might as well have not bothered. The tournament was handed to Russia, and comments made by football governing body FIFA’s suspended president Sepp Blatter suggest an agreement was in place for Russia to host the tournament before the vote even took place.

Everyone in Sheffield backed our bid, garnering cross-party support because of the huge benefits it would have brought to the city - a refurb for Hillsborough and a £300million boost to the economy for starters.

But it’s not really about the money. It’s about the joy of bringing World Cup football back to the birthplace of the beautiful game.

Sheffield is home to some of the most passionate supporters in the country. For evidence, look no further than Tuesday night, when 35,000 Owls fans went nuts as Sheffield Wednesday dumped Arsenal out of the League Cup.

Or look at Sheffield United’s attendances: where else do you get in excess of 20,000 fans every week in League One?

Sheffield fans deserved to taste World Cup glory - and Sepp Blatter has by his own admission broken steel city hearts by binning off our detailed, hard-worked proposals out-of-hand.

No amount of money can make up for the disappointment of knowing the graft poured into the plans put together by Sheffield Council, the FA and many of our city’s MPs has been tossed aside without a second glance.

But it would be a start. Write us a cheque, Mr Blatter – it’s the least you can do.