Russia Win 2018 World Cup Bid: Special Report
December 2, 2010
By Martin Laurence, Staff Writer
Russia have won the bid to host the World Cup Finals in 2018. The team spoke of their delight stating that FIFA would “not regret their decision” and that they hoped “to make history together”. Despite rumours that Russia had slipped down in the list as favourites the bid was won based on the feeling that the World Cup could help to develop the infrastructure of the nation. President Putin’s absence was seen by many as a negative move however the move now seems to have been made through confidence in the campaign.
The final 30-minute presentations were made by the remaining four bidding nations for the World Cup 2018 today. Committees from Holland/Belgium, Russia, Spain/Portugal and England all staked their claim to host the finals in front of the FIFA executive committee at the FIFA headquarters in Zurich. With a 22-strong committee the winning bid needed to receive at least 12 votes after the final round of voting.
After years of hard work the hopefuls heard of the committees decision on who will host the finals in 2018 on Thursday afternoon.
Holland/Belgium, the rank outsiders to claim victory, were first to present their case to FIFA on the morning of Thursday 2 December. The bid was introduced by the FIFA ExCo member for the nation, Michel D’Hooge.
The joint nations motto of ‘Together for great goals’ was perhaps the most football orientated and the bid was put forward by a number of Dutch football icons. The team was made up of Ruud Gullit, Johan Cruyff, Guus Hiddink, Jean-Marie Pfaff and Paul van Himst. Gullit was keen to highlight the key benefits of their bid including its compactness- “our limited size is our real strength”; it is a green bid due to this; it’s a bid from a strong economy; it’s a bid from the heart of Europe; it’s a showcase for joint bids; and finally, it’s a bid that intends to have a true legacy.
The presentation was littered with a total of five videos, cutting each speakers case considerably in a stop-start presentation.
Up next were Spain/Portugal whose presentation began at 9am GMT. The presentation was opened by Pedro Mourinho and was quickly into a very formal and business-like groove.
The bidding team firmly established that though it represented a joint bid, believed to be seen as unfavourable by some of the FIFA ExCo members, the bid has a “borderless geographical reality”. After much of the media have overlooked the impact of Portugal on the joint bid perhaps it was a smart ploy to start the bid through the Prime Minister of Portugal Jose Socrates.
It was then the turn of the Spanish President Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero who guaranteed that all FIFA’s requirements would be met speaking, as Socrates did, in his native tongue.
Though the presence of the political powers that be in the nations will have an impact, the presentation was lacking energy and fun installed by a short video with various clips of Spanish and Portugese culture.
Unlike the Holland/Belgium bid, Spain did look to use the FIFA ExCo member of Spain, Miguel Angel Villar Llona which they hoped would sway the vote in their favour.
England’s 30-minute presentation began at 10am GMT and was full of popular figures. Bid ambassador Eddie Afekafe offered a more personal touch, explaining how football had effected his life, initially in a voluntary role at Manchester City. The start to the bid had a good balance with Afekafe bringing a figure who can be related to, to the star-studded cast.
Prince William, President of the Football Association was next to speak, bringing a regal feel to the presentation from an individual who understands the importance of the game to the English public. Prime Minister David Cameron spoke without notes of the “passion and expertise” the nation has to host a successful games.
Possibly the most influential figure in the last few days has been soccer icon, David Beckham. Beckham spoke of his childhood growing up as a soccer fan and of the experiences and honours that have befallen him in his illustrious career. The player is a passionate and fantastic ambassador for the bid speaking emotionally about the benefits the Cup could bring to England and it’s children and grandchildren.
A polished and concise presentation was wrapped up by bid chief executive Andy Anson and a video showing the influence of English Football all around the world.
Last up were Russia, the favourites to win the bid for long periods of the process. Breaking news which shocked many yesterday was revealed confirming that President Vladimir Putin would not be attending the event. Putin stated that he felt his presence was not in the spirit of the game, seemingly condemning the appearance of political figures from the rival teams.
The bid was introduced by bid chief executive Alexey Sorokin who immediately looked to lift the mood following a lengthy and overrun presentation from Spain/Portugal.
“Being the last bid to present we have two options,” said Sorokin. “Either bore you to death with facts and figures from our bid book, or show you what is in our hearts. We chose the second option.”
The bid was very much focused around the fact that Russia believed they could make history with FIFA and open avenues to new markets and new fans.
A video was shown highlighting a little boys dream of playing for his country followed by a cultural glimpse of opera featuring football playing singers.
Russia hoped that FIFA would choose their bid to help them to develop their country and develop the game in a nation which may not be as familiar to international football on a global stage as some of their rivals.
Russia also used their FIFA ExCo member in Vitaly Mutko who joked, in a light hearted presentation “If you give us a chance, Fifa, you will never regret. I also promise that in 2018, I will speak English like my friend Geoff Thompson.”
The presentation was joined by sporting icons including pole vaulter Yelena Isinbayeva and Arsenal soccer star Andrey Arshavin in a well-balanced and competent display.