This week marked a month until that time every few years that Sepp Blatter gets to act out his fantasy as king of the world. Sepp does stop short of donning robes and scepter (which he probably received as “gifts”) though. The decision he announces in the ceremony will tell the world where the World Cup will take place in both 2018 and 2022, and who paid who to get the valuable votes needed to secure the tournament.
As the most watched and talked about sports event on the planet, hosting it is the ultimate accolade – hence the myriad of criteria that countries must fulfill before even considering becoming hosts. This bidding process, however, has been fraught with problems for all involved. Whether it be the bickering at England’s FA on an almost weekly basis, Russia trying to balls it up in every way possible, or Spain/Portugal buying votes, all involved are desperate for the tournament.
Who should get the whole shebang in 2018 though? Does England really have a divine right to host the tournament once every 50 years? Can Russia show the oil tsars have enough money to fund the entire tournament? Is sun, sea, and siestas enough for Spain/Portugal to receive the most votes?
Looking at the front-runners for 2018, they’re all rather similar. All in Europe, each of the three considered “westernized”, and they all boast competitive football leagues where the players are paid rather handsomely indeed. What does each have as a selling point individually though?
Firstly let’s look at the founding fathers of the game, England. Even though the island’s gentry invented the game whilst booting around a pig’s bladder the love always looks as though it’s lacking amongst those in the upper echelons of the game. In reality, England should have had the tournament in 2006 but managed to fuck that one up and this time could easily do the same. England already has stadiums, the infrastructure, and the passionate fans. As an Englishman you have learned never to be confident in these situations though. Thank goodness, it’s not down to Michel Platini to decide – they’d not have a chance.
It was good of Russia to point out around a couple of weeks ago that we’re purely a nation of binge drinkers with a little bit of crime thrown in for good measure. Go out on the streets on a Friday and Saturday and you will see for yourself – it would be nowhere near as fun without a bit of binge drinking though, so why don’t the bosses market this fact? If tourists realise how fun it is, they’ll come in their droves.
This brings us on to the second favourite – Russia. The vast country spans two continents and has the largest landmass in the world. It’s unfortunate that many of the people involved with this bid don’t seem to have brains as large as their wallets. The weather may well also be factor in the Russian bid but the money will likely be their main advantage. Their bid has suffered from more boobs than a cheap brothel, nonetheless Blatter talks money and this is good for the Siberians.
Spain/Portugal’s bid is lagging back in third and their best attempt to amend this was to try paying everyone off. This is all well and good but don’t get found out. However much you need a siesta if it means all the corruption is uncovered then don’t bother. Sell the fact that the weather will be hot and if you bribe the banks, they will give money. Don’t give brown envelopes to people who aren’t Mr Blatter – he’ll get very jealous.
We’ll leave the last words to the bookies though.
William Hill has seen the money dry up from punters backing England despite them having been regarded as certainties just a few weeks ago. England’s odds have drifted from 8/11 to 10/11 with the Russian bid being cut from 6/4 to 5/4. The joint bid by Portugal and Spain has been cut from 6/1 to 5/1.
Spokesman for Hills, Graham Sharpe, commented: “It could well be that recent revelations have played a major part in destabilising England’s bid which now seems in danger of being beaten to the big prize,”
“Alternatively, recent media coverage of possible irregularities in the voting process could be being used as a convenient excuse in the event that England lose out because of flaws in their own bid strategy.”
Ladbrokes also seems to think that the dream of a World Cup on these shores is ending.
“Russia have emerged as the new favourites (8/11) and are building momentum since the furore has died down surrounding the (somewhat ironic) comments made regarding alcohol consumption and crime. There was plenty of money for England on the back of that, but in the wake of a fresh scandal and in the ensuing media frenzy, England are on the drift and are even money,” said Alex Donohue, Public Relations at Ladbrokes.
“Spain & Portugal remain diplomatic and could easily ride up in the slip stream of the Anglo-Russian fallout. They can’t be ignored at 10/1 and their price could easily collapse in the run up to the announcement.”
Come December 2nd we’ll know who’s the winner, but it’s going to be a nervy few weeks for the respective bids.