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Russia wins race for World Cup 2018

This is a story from the FSF archive – the FSF and SD merged to become the FSA in 2019.

England will not host the 2018 World Cup after Russia won the race to hold sport’s biggest event. FIFA chose Russia ahead of bids by Belgium and the Netherlands, Portugal and Spain, and England.

In a controversial decision the 2022 World Cup was awarded to the Middle East state of Qatar who beat competition from Australia, Japan, South Korea, and the USA. 

Many had feared for England’s chances following allegations of bribery and corruption by BBC’s Panorama although England’s bid team had remained hopeful. However, this wasn’t enough to satisfy FIFA – the World Cup will be heading east in 2018.

“Alongside the disappointment of England not winning there’s also an element of surprise at Russia being chosen,” said Kevin Miles, the FSF’s director of international affairs.

“England fans who attended our Euro 2008 qualifier in October 2007 will know that the atmosphere was more hostile than hospitable. And there have been repeated issues with racism. Elements of these concerns were reflected in the inspection reports so it’s all the more surprising that they appear to have been disregarded by the FIFA electorate.”

Hopes had been high among the England bid team. David Cameron’s visit to FIFA’s HQ in Zurich – alongside David Beckham and Prince William – was well received while his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin’s last minute withdrawal was almost certainly not. Rumours persisted that support for Russia’s bid had collapsed.

The signs had also been good when a study commissioned by FIFA identified England and the USA as the only nations able to meet revenue targets for 2018 and 2022. Both nations were given an overall 100% rating by management consultants McKinsey who analysed each bid across five revenue streams – hospitality, licensing, media rights, sponsorship and ticketing.

Russia received a rating of just 86% overall and only 56% in the hospitality section. After the relative gambles of South Africa 2010 and Brazil 2014 it was hoped by many domestically that FIFA would be keen to choose the safest bet, which was thought to be England. It did not and, under its own rotation rules, FIFA cannot consider a European host again until 2030. That would be 64 years since England last hosted the World Cup.

Football will not be coming home for at least another generation.

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