Thursday, 2 December 2010

Russia and Qatar get World Cups, England gets two votes

This is all that matters:

Round 1: England 2 votes, Netherlands/Belgium 4 votes,Spain/Portugal 7 votes and Russia 9 votes.

Round 2: Netherlands/Belgium 2 votes, Spain/Portugal 7 votes and Russia 13votes (Russia obtain absolute majority)

In the end, after all the hype, all the spin, it was Russia by a mile. Their prime minister Vladimir Putin didn’t bother to go to Zurich yesterday, but by then he probably knew his vast nation would be hosting the 2018 World Cup.

England’s slick bid, backed by the Three Lions of David Cameron, David Beckham, Prince William and a 30-strong galaxy of stars, managed just two votes. Out first round. Ouch. Portugal and Spain will feel the same disappointment. They were convinced they had a least eight supporters. Belgium and Holland will be happy to have finished third.

But it was all so predictable. I said so here, a week ago. Russia for 2018 and Qatar for 2022. They have the money, the right profile for FIFA and Sepp Blatter. England and Australia would have been better choices for football, but hey, it’s all about profitability and breaking new ground.

Russia are promising to spend £6bn including ten new stadia. Quite how fans are going to travel around the biggest country in the world, I’m not sure. Crime? Corruption? Plenty of that too in Russia. But hey, if Putin and the Roman Abramovich gang are behind it with the cash, no problem.

Qatar are just the opposite in terms of size. A tiny nation promising to build a series of near-neighbouring stadia to host the 2022 World Cup. But they’ll have to provide air-conditioning too. I worked out there in the summer. It’s like a furnace. And hardly a footballing hot-bed. But hey, all that oil, all that cash... never a chance for the rival bidders, Australia, the USA, South Korea and Japan.

So England and former Arsenal chief executive David Dein are gutted. Just two votes from the 22—strong FIFA executive committee, despite providing the best presentation, the strongest technical bid.

Dein, so important to this bid, was on the verge of tears: “Football politics are difficult. Two votes? That’s where we are. I’m very sad. I hoped for better. We worked extremely hard. I tell you one thing, winning is one thing, losing is another.”

Prince William’s Royal approval was of no consequence. He said: “I’m immensely proud to have been part of it. Congratulations to Russia. It’s very sad, we gave everything we could. I’m sorry for the fans back home.”

Richard Scudamore, the Premier League chief executive, said: “You saw that presentation today. I thought it transcended all our expectations. Everybody was on message. It was fantastic. A great technical bid. Here were are empty handed.

“It doesn’t matter about rounds, it’s all about who won it. But clearly, as Mr Blatter said: “We are taking these World Cups to two new countries.” That is a difficult thing to come up against. We have the stadiums and the infrastructure. I sense the British media’s criticism may have had an effect but if it has had a bearing it would be disappointing.”

Like the Eurovision Song Contest, England just aren’t popular on the global stage. That much we know now. All those great Premier League stadia did little to warm our footballing cousins to the home of the game.

And the truth is, Russia and Qatar represent new markets for FIFA. Huge profits. Unlimited spending. How can anybody compete with that?

See also for earlier analysis of World Cup bids.

1 comment:

  1. I still cant believe you called Sepp and goons correct on both!

    It is a shame for England / Aus. Russia - maybe. Qatar? I don't even know where that is on the map! Except for the heat that is associated with it!