The remote Eurasian country of Azerbaijan, a place as barren and hostile as Anne Robinson’s knickers, has been chosen by FIFA to host the 2026 World Cup finals after the powerful football authority merged their bidding process with the Eurovision Song Contest.

Following accusations of bribery and corruption by the F.A for their last ballot, where Russia and the desert moon of Tattoine were awarded the 2018 and 2022 tournaments respectively, under-fire FIFA officials took the drastic decision of using the silly international karaoke shindig as their new model for selecting future venues.

Though the contest is often derided for being flawed, with the quality of the songs usually being a secondary importance to countries voting for whoever hasn’t bombed them in the past two hundred years, it is still thought to be a much more honest and fairer system as the previous FIFA method that allowed slimy chancers to pimp out their vote for gongs and hookers.

The committee behind the singing event, that unites the whole of the European gay community for one special night of kitsch wonderment, were only too happy to help find FIFA a new bizarre territory to host the second-biggest sporting event the world has to offer. They did though insist upon a couple of key conditions – that Graham Norton be replaced as British host in favour of Jeff Stelling. And that people promised not to laugh at them anymore and cease enjoying the proceedings ironically whilst getting sozzled on wine.

All of the acts were notified beforehand about the additional burden of responsibility placed upon their artistic shoulders with Duncan from Blue particularly enthralled at the prospect.

‘To think that lots of lovely shiny new stadiums might be built because of my dulcet tones excites me enormously’, he trilled to a showbiz channel. ‘Do you think we’ll be asked to perform at the opening ceremony? We need the work. Badly.’

Galway O’Doherty, the Irish minister for Arts, Heritage and Violent Sports however revealed mixed feelings about the controversial move.

‘We’re a bit peeved so we are. Usually Ireland takes this competition very seriously – we have a fierce record of winning it in the past with such acts as Johnny Logan, U2 and Father Ted Crilly. This year of all years we decide to throw in feckin’ Jedward for a craic. If we’d known about the football thing we’d have put a dancebeat behind a haunting Enya melody and got her doing her celtic warbling in front of a clip of Guinness being poured slowly into a glass. We’d have cleaned up so we would.’

Meanwhile, eventual winners Azerbaijan are said to be unhappy about having an extravagantly expensive tournament foist upon them. They now have only fifteen years to completely renovate a number of their best cattle-sheds.

Their president Ramil Badalbayli last night issued a press release that stated, ‘This will bankrupt us until doomsday.’

The Azerbaijan President, his wife, and Minister for Sports yesterday.