Blatter praises everywhere but England

Another day, another comment from Sepp Blatter praising a country’s bid to host the 2018 World Cup and, once again, England have missed out on his kind words.

What we have done to deserve such hostility from the suits at FIFA, I don’t know. However, it seems England’s hopes of hosting the World Cup rest on the bid committee’s skills of political persuasion rather than logistical issues.

Blatter recently returned from Russia and said: “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.”

What he appears to be saying is that although England are best equipped to host the tournament, they won’t. Personally, I wouldn’t place a football bet on Blatter changing his mind.

In recent years the Olympic Committee have looked towards legacy – ensuring the competition delivers something lasting to the host nation – as a key factor in who wins the Games.

Blatter appears to be on a one man crusade to do something similar with the World Cup, handing out tournaments to developing footballing 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, football is a global game and it is only fair new countries get the chance to host major competitions.

But there are clearly some nations who are not ready to host World Cups 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 World Cup smoothly, while Ukraine, co-host of the next European Championship, could struggle to build the required stadiums in time. England doesn’t have these problems, it could host a major competition tomorrow if needs be.

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

Instead the FA have to play the political game to turn the executives’ heads, something we don’t appear very good. For example, during the last bid the committee gave the wives of FIFA members handbags as a gift.

However, vice-president Jack Warner returned his to the FA complete with letter saying the item was “a symbol of derision, betrayal and embarrassment for me and my family”.

England are currently third favourites in this year’s World Cup online betting, but their chances of hosting the tournament any time soon are much more remote than that.


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