Russia World Cup Hosts!

Russia 2018 World Cup Bid LogoFIFA have announced that Russia will host the 2018 World Cup!

The decision to award the first Russian World Cup Tournament, coming just a couple of years after Russia won the right to host the 2014 Olympics in Sochi demonstrates that Russia has been able to convince the world that it is ready to host major sporting events – there are no bigger world sporting events than the Olympics and the Football World Cup. The test now, for Russia, will be to prove the doubters wrong, and host two spectacular tournaments that make the rest of the world green with envy!

The World Cup voting

FIFA’s decision, announced this afternoon in Zurich, comes as a bit of a surprise to many. The voting was actually pretty decisive, though – Russia won in the second round of voting, by a pretty hefty margin.

Although Russia’s bid was fairly strong overall, it was technically rated the weakest of the three main Word Cup bids by FIFA examiners, behind the England bid and the joint Spain / Portugal bid – the biggest problem being thought to be the massive distances that fans would need to travel and Russia’s weak and vulnerable air transport infrastructure. In many pundits’ eyes, it was the weakest of the three main bids, overall.

However, the examiners did note that Russia had promised to invest massive amounts in new football stadiums, which would leave the country with a tremendous legacy from hosting the World Cup. It seems that this must have swayed the FIFA delegates, and been a more important consideration that travel and other infrastructure problems when it came time to vote. The same considerations seem to have been key in their decision to award the following 2022 World Cup to Qatar, another developing country that would see a massive boost from hosting a World Cup.

England, many pundits favourite before the vote, received very few votes (to be precise – England received 2 votes!) and were knocked out in the first round of voting. Although you can make a good argument that England wouldn’t have been the ideal host, the number of votes that England actually received is dramatically lower than you would expect, given the evident quality of their bid. It looks like the accusations of corruption among FIFA executives by the British media may well have done irretrievable damage to the English campaign. This is sad, not just for the English bid, but for Russia too – given Russia’s reputation as a generally corrupt country, this will do nothing but fuel the flames for those critics who will claim that Russia won the right to host this World Cup by bribing FIFA officials.

Russia World Cup Format

Spanning a massive area, hosting a World Cup in Russia was never going to be an easy challenge. The Russian Football Federation have solved it with a plan that will see matches hosted in 16 stadiums spread across 13 Russian cities. The cities have been divided into four clusters, to keep group stage matches in the same geographical area, and the Russian World Cup Final will be held in the Moscow Luzhniki Stadium.

Here’s a pretty infographic from RIA Novosti to give you a graphical idea of how the World Cup will be organised:

RIA NovostiRussia's bid for the 2018 FIFA World CupRussia’s bid for the 2018 FIFA World Cup

12:17 02/12/2010 The national concept stipulates World Cup matches at 16 stadiums in 13 cities comprising four clusters>>

Reaction

Russian President Vladimir Putin decided not to speak in favour of Russia’s bid in Zurich – lets face it, because he didn’t want to be associated with a losing bid. So he’s now in the embarrassing position of having to rush over to Zurich. He explained his about face, unconvincingly:

“I am going to Zurich. I promised members of the Executive Committee that if the decision was made in Russia’s favor, I would certainly come to thank them personally and speak about our preparation plans.”

Putin went on to say:

“I would like to thank the members of the FIFA executive committee for their decision, that they trusted us with staging the football World Cup. I would like to assure the FIFA leadership that we will do everything possible to ensure that the 2018 World Cup is staged at a deserving level.”

Your views

What do you think? Was Russia’s success deserved? Will the Russian World Cup be a success, or will Russia struggle to host such a major tournament?

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9 Responses

  1. As I wrote in my Tweet on the matter, my opinion is that the UK shot itself in the foot with its corruption allegations. Regardless of whether money was exchanged or not, raising this issue is certain to torpedo your your chances. If they really are corrupt, then they wouldn’t want the issue raised anyway; if they’re not, they’d be plain offended. In short, the UK put itself in an untenable situation, and in contrast Putin’s aloof attitude was IMO the correct one.

    I think the really bizarre choice – and the one that raises genuine questions about the partiality of the FIFA process – was the selection of Qatar for 2022. That country has a population of 1.5mn people! After the World Cup is done with, the 9 extra stadiums it will have to build will become desiccated shells, because of the simple fact that it would then have about one world class stadium for every 100,000 citizens. Had it been part of a joint bid with Saudi Arabia and the UAE, this would have been an understandable decision to promote football in the Middle East. But favoring it over the US, which unlike Qatar is an emerging football power, is what raises the real questions about FIFA’s judgment.

    I think it will be a “success” as far as these things go. If countries like South Africa or Greece can adequately hold major international sports events, then certainly so can Russia. The main advantage of the win, I think, is that by necessity it will spur Russia to accelerate public infrastructure spending, and thus contribute to renewing the increasingly decrepit Soviet-era infrastructure that is increasingly inhibiting growth and efficiency.

  2. Knowing the prime minister and seen how Russia won by large amount of votes, he probably planned the whole thing .
    He would have never gone there begging like Cameron and prince William .

  3. Tim Newman says:

    As I wrote in my Tweet on the matter, my opinion is that the UK shot itself in the foot with its corruption allegations.

    Right, but the UK is not a homogenous entity whereby the media is in hock-step to the government and those trying to win the right to host the world cup. Fortunately, the British media is free enough to do its job in reporting corruption – either proven or alleged – when it is in the public interest to do so. National pride comes second.

    I think the really bizarre choice – and the one that raises genuine questions about the partiality of the FIFA process – was the selection of Qatar for 2022.

    Yes, whatever could have caused 22 human beings to award such an event to a fabulously wealthy and corrupt desert kingdom?!! Of course, to admit such would then raise the question whether Russia had opted for similar methods to secure their own success, which is why it’s best to pretend it is a mystery.

    Personally, I think Russia is a great choice in some ways: they have strong football culture, a new host is good, it’s a big important country, and the locals like a big event. The downside is what I talked about before on SL: silly rules for visitors (which if they could have dispensed with them, then they would have already), and terrible infrastructure which I don’t think they have the means to improve to the standard required for a world cup (the stadia will be okay, but the hotels and supporting infrastructure I think will be a huge issue). I have a feeling this might end up a competition which only millionnaires can afford to attend. Sochi will be a good test case, look for the average hotel price during the games.

  4. Andy says:

    Yeah, I’m disappointed as an English football fan that England didn’t win the right to host the World Cup. I think Russia would probably have edged out England’s bid regardless of the allegations of FIFA corruption in the British media, but they certainly damaged the campaign. It’s good news that this issue has been exposed – its a success for the British media, and will hopefully (are there some pigs flying over there?) force FIFA to put its own house in order.

    Generally, I think Russia will host a great world cup. The transport and hotel infrastructure is a bit weak, and will cause hassles, but I’m sure great strides will be made over the next eight years in the host cities. It’ll definitely be a great boost for Russia, both in terms of the lasting developments, and to national pride.

    Qatar was absolutely bonkers. Awarding the World Cup to a country with a population of 1.6 million people will do nothing to develop Qatari football, nor football in the wider Middle East. They’ve developed an ambitious plan, but it’s one that’s very dependent on the continuing economic good fortune of a small state and will be a real challenge to pull off. I wouldn’t be surprised if the right to host the World Cup is withdrawn closer to the time, and a country (perhaps the USA?) steps in at the last minute to save the event.

    If ever a decision was going to raise questions about the integrity of the FIFA leadership, Qatar is it.

  5. Right, but the UK is not a homogenous entity whereby the media is in hock-step to the government and those trying to win the right to host the world cup.

    Yeah, indeed – and I’ve got a bridge to sell to you in Nunavut.

    Yes, whatever could have caused 22 human beings to award such an event to a fabulously wealthy and corrupt desert kingdom?!!

    No, the real issue is the population. Even Greece, with 10mn people, has seen many of its Olympics structures starting to rapidly depreciate as they are no longer needed after the event. With its 1.5mn population, this effect will be fivefold stronger in Qatar. In contrast, Russia’s 142mn population is a more than adequate base for sustaining the Winter Olympics and World Cup facilities long after the foreign tourists live.

    I have a feeling this might end up a competition which only millionaires can afford to attend.

    I don’t know what world you live in, but even when I was in traveling around in central Russia back in 2003 – and on a relatively tight budget too – there were plenty of affordable (as in much cheaper than in the UK) and modestly good hotels and eateries.

  6. Tim Newman says:

    Yeah, indeed – and I’ve got a bridge to sell to you in Nunavut.

    Yes, I can understand that a Russian would be unable to differentiate between the respective positions of the government, the press, and the public interest, but the distinction is one of importance in the UK.

    No, the real issue is the population. Even Greece, with 10mn people, has seen many of its Olympics structures starting to rapidly depreciate as they are no longer needed after the event. With its 1.5mn population, this effect will be fivefold stronger in Qatar.

    You think the real issue here is not one of bribery and corruption but a concern that Qatar’s facilities will not get used once the tournament is over? They’ll likely get bulldozed or left for the desert to reclaim. Why is this a major concern to anyone but the billionnaires who run Qatar?

    I don’t know what world you live in, but even when I was in traveling around in central Russia back in 2003 – and on a relatively tight budget too – there were plenty of affordable (as in much cheaper than in the UK) and modestly good hotels and eateries.

    When I was first in Moscow in 2004, the cheapest accommodation you’d want to stay in was the Rossiya at $100 per night. Then it got demolished, and the cheapest accommodation you’d want to stay in became the Belgrad at $200 per night. It was an utter shithole. When I went to Kazan in 2005, the cheapest hotel was about $250 per night. It was okay, and to be fair you could probably have found cheaper accommodation, but you’d not put a dog to live in it. I never needed a hotel in St. Petersburg, but those who have have come back with stories of mind-blogging expense coupled with crap service and poor facilities. Yes, I am sure it is quite possible to back-pack your way around Russia if you speak Russian and know all the little tricks (i.e. negotiating with Babushkas at the train stations) but this is hardly what is expected of those who come for a world cup.

  7. Mark says:

    “Yeah, indeed – and I’ve got a bridge to sell to you in Nunavut.”

    I thought we already settled the Arctic issue on your blog, Anatoly – and then I find you here offering to auction off more Canadian assets in which you have not the slightest vestige of ownership. You Americans are all the same, regardless your roots.

    This is an excellent opportunity for Russia to advance its sports base at a quantum leap rather than a sedate crawl. It’s going to be expensive, yes, but you get what you pay for, and Russia showed every sign of having prepared for hosting the Olympics, in both budgeting and resolve. I don’t know that anybody makes money from the Olympics any more, not since security became both the overriding concern and the biggest budget-breaker.

    And nigga, please. Anything that has politicians involved is by nature corrupt – if not immediately by virtue of the previously-existing corruption in the individual, then later on when he/she realizes you cannot exercise influence without getting in the game up to your eyeballs. That means backroom deals, influence-peddling, dispensing largess to lobbyists and doing whatever it takes to hold on to power – because no politician exercises major influence who is not in an appropriate position so to do, and the first thing every first-term politician thinks about is a second term.

    Name me a government of any major nation, and I’ll find you an example of corruption. It exists insomuch as the electorate allows it, and in most cases does not appear to be an impediment to governance so far as the people notice.

  1. December 2, 2010

    […] The votes are in, and Russia will host the 2018 World Cup – see my post Russia World Cup Hosts This entry was posted in Russian Sport and tagged Football, World Cup. Bookmark the permalink. […]

  2. December 8, 2010

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