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The fight for the 2018 World Cup

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Gordon Farquhar | 10:05 UK time, Friday, 22 October 2010

England officials are maintaining a respectful silence about recent events that have turned the bidding process for the 2018 World Cup into even more of a lottery. Perhaps they are lost for words.

England began this race as favourites. I presume in setting the odds, the bookmakers considered the facilities and the technical strength of England's bid, thought about the history, pondered the opposition, stuck a finger in the air, got a tarot reading, doubled the number they first thought of and then installed them at the top of their list.

Trying to second guess what Fifa, football's world governing body, will do is a fairly thankless task at the best of times - and now we are close to the worst of times.

fifacamera595.jpgFifa is under scrutiny following claims about the World Cup bidding process. Photo: Reuters

Two of the 24 people who were due to decide the hosts of the 2018 competition - Amos Adamu and Reynald Temarii - have been provisionally suspended following allegations of corruption and are currently awaiting the judgment of Fifa's ethics committee.

And if Adamu and Temarii cannot persuade the ethics committee of their innocence and the number of voters drops to 22, then some re-calibration has got to be done.

I do not know if England were hoping for the support of either Adamu or Temarii at any stage in the voting process but they might have to re-model their scenarios now.

Fifa is also investigating Spain and Portugal for alleged collusion to trade votes. If they end up being censured by the ethics committee, surely their chances of co-hosting the 2018 tournament are damaged?

And if they are censured, who does that benefit most? Possibly England, as the Iberian offer, like England's, is a "safe bet" bid, with stadiums built, infrastructure in place and the recent success of the 2004 European Championship a rosy glow.

On the other hand, South Africa worked out splendidly for the risk takers among Fifa's executive. That could mean Russia, which offers great potential and the chance of a strong physical legacy in terms of new stadiums and football development, remains under serious consideration.

And if there is a smaller electorate, the risk takers might have a louder voice.

But what about potential co-hosts Netherlands and Belgium, the last of the bidders for 2018? Is their offering a little dull maybe? Some at Fifa might think that is a good thing. The Belgian and Dutch media do not have quite the same reputation for applying merciless scrutiny as here at home and Fifa could do without any more scandals.

As to what this all might mean for England, I suggest a trip to a clairvoyant is just as valid as sticking with the bookies' tip right now.


  • Comment number 1.

    We are entering a critical period for the FA. The New Wembley Stadium legacy is hanging over them and will continue to do so for the next decade (ok 13yrs - unlucky 13). The effect is vulgar and excessive marketing campaigns to try and close us down for every £ (i.e. Team England, St George's Park, turning the 3 Lions into little characters that can be merchandised, etc).

    Added to that, their questionable decision to first employ and then retain Capello after what was an unmitigated disaster from pre-tournament acclimatisation training (up, down, up, down = fatigue). Consider this - with no game now until March 2011, what decisions has he had to make in this qualifying campaign that justifies him earning £4m since Bloemfontein? All players that would have forced key decisions and shown his hand have been deferred due to injury (i.e. is John Terry's 'big mistake' that he will continue to get picked when he is fit, Lampard being injured means he has not had to make a choice to play both, Gerrard/ Lampard, or drop a marquee name). Playing Barry in a four appears a mistake as he is too slow to cover the ground across the wide open spaces in midfield.

    That takes me to another point. The FA also seem to have made some significant mistakes with their new blueprint for coaching (The Future Game). For example, when listing the attributes that a future midfield player needs, alongside comments about speed there is a picture of, guess who..? Yes, Gareth Barry. Worse still, when talking about strikers, much is made of goal to game ratios. The book discusses the greats of the game who have achieved a great goal to game ratio (Puskas, Gerd Muller, etc). The picture accompanying this section is Emile Heskey. The FA have chosen to go with contemporary players with a funky graphic. The problem is that Heskey is already retired and clearly the wrong choice to get that point across. Other players used are not World Class. Perhaps this is symptomatic of our problem. When all the spin and hype is stripped away, England have no world class players. There used to be one approaching that status last season, but he is presently appearing is the panto villain locked into a cycle of self destruction.

    Anyway, why didn't the FA choose to pick images of all time great England players to increase the book's credibility? And this is the crux - The FA have little or no stock left in the credibility stakes, in my opinion. They can't afford to miss out on winning the 2018 bid. The consequences for their reputation and credibility could be far reaching.

  • Comment number 2.

    We Portuguese don't want to host a World Cup with Spain. If we are to host a World Cup we want to do it on our own. In addition this "joint-bid" is extremely unequal and can be more accurately as a Spanish bid with very little Portuguese input. This is because Spain will have the opening and final match and Portugal would only have one semi-final and the 3rd and 4th place match and a handful of group stage and other knock-out matches. The bid in its current form is an insult to Portugal as an independent country which has survived multiple Spanish attempts of conquest and subjugation and will imply Portugal is a province of Spain, as plenty of foreigners with questionable Geography knowledge seem to think.

    And more importantly we are facing a very serious economic crisis and most countries are rearming their military, which means my hard-earned tax money should be spent sorting out the economy and rearming our military NOT entertaining the world.

  • Comment number 3.

    FIFA's ethics committee - is that an oxymoron?

    Given that the only people that really benefit from a World Cup are FIFA, why should countries really be queueing up for the privilege. The emotional "gain" for a country is one thing, but the economics of the matter never seem to really make sense. Has any country's economy gained from holding the World Cup (or the Olympics for that matter)?



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