Wednesday, 5 May 2010

Blatter looks to everywhere but England

Another day, another comment from Sepp Blatter praising a county other than England’s bid to host the 2018 World Cup.

What we have done to deserve such hostility from the suits at FIFA I don’t know, but it seems England’s hopes of hosting the World Cup rests not in their ability to host the tournament, but the bid committee’s skills of political persuasion.

Take Blatter for example. He has recently returned from Russia and has been quoted as saying: "...what they presented is remarkable. Russia is not a country but a continent and Russia has big plans to expand.

“Listen, it (England's bid) is the easiest bid in the world. They have the football already organised. They have everything. England has no problem in delivering a World Cup.

"The other bidders must convince the executive. England does not have to convince us.
"We know England can stage the World Cup. But England winning (the right to stage it) – I am not so sure."

So basically what he is saying is the decision will not be based on practical (and surely the most important) reasons, which is England’s strongest card.
Legacy has become a buzzword ever since Seb Coe’s successful London Olympic bid talked of a future for the capital beyond the games.

Blatter appears on a one man crusade to do something similar with the World Cup, handing out tournaments to developing football nations like sweets to children - he has already been quoted as saying it is the Arab World’s turn to host the tournament.

This is all well and good I agree, football is a global game now and it is only fair that a variety of countries and continents get the chance to host major competitions.
But you have to ask whether these countries are ready to host World Cup’s and European Championships?

A huge amount of infrastructure is required, not just Stadiums but transport links and hotels. Huge questions still remain over South Africa’s ability to host the tournament smoothly while the Ukraine, co-host of the next European Championship, have had to make promises to UEFA that they will have the stadiums built in time. England don’t need such timescales, they could host it tomorrow if they had to.

Yet that strength, the stadiums and infrastructure, has been dismissed as irrelevant, as though it is somehow their fault they built their stadiums 20 years ago. You can’t help feeling England are being made to fight on unfair ground.

Instead they have to play the political game to turn the executives heads, something we don’t appear very good at after the handbag fiasco, which saw vice-president Jack Warner return the gift for his wife to the FA complete with angry letter, saying it was: “a symbol of derision, betrayal and embarrassment for me and my family."

England face a huge challenge on the pitch this summer as they seek to replicate that 1966 World Cup win, but the task of playing another World Cup on home soil, appears much, much harder.

Originally posted at

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