So, in the spirit of sport, let’s start by congratulating Russia for their success in winning the right to host the 2018 World Cup and Qatar, whose amazingly innovative and forward-thinking campaign earned them the 2022 tournament.
But one decision reached by FIFA’s Exco yesterday in Zurich, will be seen in some places as simply astonishing, raising as many questions as it answered.
Now its true that London may be chief among those places and, as a British football fan, I have to declare an interest here. But I am still having trouble understanding exactly how England’s bid was eliminated from the 2018 bidding process in the first phase.
England’s campaign may not have been the slickest in history but, after the failure of the 2006 effort, its representatives criss-crossed the globe treading on eggshells in their concern not to be seen as complacent or arrogant.
After all, if all you’ve got in your locker is the longest history of competitive football, globally treasured stadia which are ready to rock, the richest and most cosmopolitan professional league on the planet and a population whose relationship with football borders on obsessive compulsive, what is there to be arrogant about?
So why was England’s bid eliminated at the first stage? Was it really the worst, least imaginative bid. Did it deliver the least commercial value or an inferior legacy?
I strongly believe that question should be answered by FIFA, if for no other reason as to provide some guidance for future bids.
Because the way it looks right now, the whole process is a little too personal.
Unlike the IOC, where more than 120 members vote on Olympic hosts, this committee consisted of only 24 before a couple of them were busted for being bent. That’s a small number to make a big decision.
Over the next couple of days, each member of the FIFA Executive committee will receive an invitation to write an article for SportBusiness International explaining why England’s bid was considered the worst or least worthy to host the 2018 World Cup. I hope they respond positively.
No matter what the response to that invitation, there is surely a case for increasing the size of the electoral college which is currently more like an electoral club.
Then there are the fans themselves. Does anybody consider where they would like a World Cup to be staged. Why shouldn’t fans have a voice and a block of votes in these decisions. FIFA is big on digital technology so why not use it to genuinely give the football family a say.
You know what? That really would be For The Game.
Kevin Roberts, Editorial Director, SportBusiness Group
I understand your point of view however I don’t agree with the overall positioning of the matter. If we take into consideration the criteria you mentioned, the World Cup will only be hosted by eight to ten countries in the world!
I have many comments regarding the operation of the FIFA as an organisation, however I am now more willing to accept the FIFA decision of changing the “habit” of granting the World Cup organisation to a “privileged club” of selected countries as it was the case before 2010 (South Korea and Japan 2002 was an exception).
Football is the most popular game on the globe. This should be translated in all actions taken by the FIFA as a governing body of this sport. From grass roots programs run in the developed countries, to TV rights, fair tickets distribution and so on. The strategy should put into action these bright slogans chanted since many years about football being “accessible to everyone”.
One of the implementation phases of this strategy might be the organisation of the World Cup itself. Why not? I know that hosting such events require good infrastructure, facilities, security, etc. I have been in the World Cup and I understand what it takes to succeed.
The game should be brought closer to the fans. “Smaller” countries and regions should be given the opportunity to organise major events such as the World Cup if they have the means and the will. Now it is up to the FIFA to monitor closely the progress of the promised infrastructure in order not to fall in the trap of over promising and under delivering. If this happens, the World Cup will become again in a way or another a “privilege” that small number of selected countries can enjoy organising.
Raed Gerges, Managing Director, Quintet Media & Communications Management