England 2018 & 2022: Let’s Not Get Ahead Of Ourselves

England’s World Cup bid for 2018/2022 certainly looks impressive on the surface – but is it impressive enough? The other countries in the running also have a good pedigree, with England’s bid, in the opinion of some experts, destined to lose out.

The bid itself probably cannot be faulted – the launch saw international superstar and former national team skipper David Beckham pledging his support, with Wayne Rooney, who is tipped as an England captain of the future, not too far behind. Whether Gordon Brown’s support helps or hinders the appearance of the bid is more of a discussion for the politically-minded among us, but David Cameron and Nick Clegg also leant their voices in favour of England holding the worldwide spectacle once more. This came in addition to royal approval, with Prince William also putting his weight behind the 2018 campaign.

David Beckham helps launch England's 2018 World Cup bid

The Beckham factor: Will the influence of Goldenballs and other notable personalities help the bid?

The infrastructure is also almost totally in place. The new Wembley is available for opening and final games, although lingering concerns about the quality of the pitch does not help. There is Old Trafford, The Emirates Stadium, Stamford Bridge, Villa Park, St James’ Park, and a few more stadiums which are capable of holding tens of thousands of fans. There are also the new stadiums which will be finished in time for the 2018 tournament – Liverpool and Everton’s new grounds for example, while Bristol City’s new stadium is hotly tipped to be the only stadium in the South West to stage games if football does indeed come home again in 2018.

Wembley Stadium

Wembley Stadium: The jewel in the bid’s crown?
Then there’s the allure of England itself. We’ve got some of the most well-attended divisions in the world in the Coca Cola Football League, and, of course, we have the Barclays Premier League, arguably the best league in the world. It received millions of television viewers from across the world during every week of each season, and the number is ever-growing. You could probably find Manchester United and Liverpool fans in Timbuktu and the South Pole if you looked.

And it’s not just the fans – the best players in the world all want to play in England. Well, except Cristiano Ronaldo who is still reportedly trying to secure a transfer to the fading giant of Real Madrid. If we forget the mercurial Portuguese winger for a second, then the talent wanting to stay and wanting to come to England is undoubtedly immense. Liverpool have Fernando Torres, arguably the best striker in the world today, Chelsea have Didier Drogba, Manchester City have Robinho. And Hull has Jimmy Bullard.

All joking aside, Bullard, as an Englishmen, helps to represent another facet of England’s footballing pedigree – homegrown talent. Despite all the recurrent concerns over our sides failing to breed the England internationals of the future, no sensible observer would suggest that the other top clubs around Europe would not try to sign John Terry, Wayne Rooney, Steven Gerrard and Rio Ferdinand if they thought they had a chance of prising them away from their Premiership sides?

This all paints a mouth-watering picture, but it is far from a given that we will get the nod when FIFA decide who will receive the 2018 World Cup and 2022 tournament.

We arguably have the best league in the world. Then again, Spain’s is not bad either with La Liga now the home of the European Champions Barcelona, who played our best side off the park in Rome just last week.

We have a wealth of large stadiums more than capable of holding a World Cup in the 21st century. Then again the USA have even bigger stadiums, with their network of college sports providing another list of stadiums which could hold the whole of a small Welsh town in them.

We have shown that we can hold a tournament in Euro 1996, and we have the Olympics in London in 2012. South Korea held a successful World Cup along with Japan in 2002, though, so could very feasibly do it again.

Perhaps one could say: “We haven’t had a World Cup since 1966, so it’s about time for it to come to our shores again, surely?” Not necessarily. Perhaps FIFA will continue in the same vein as they did with Japan and Korea and with South Africa and allow a smaller nation to hold it. Qatar’s bid could be a bit of a darkhorse in this respect, and should not be overlooked.

I do not want to put a downer on things, but the England bid’s chances do appear slimmer when considering all of that, don’t they? But England more than stands up with its competitors in all the respects listed above.

None of that will matter though, according to the Daily Star, which has suggested that the English bid may fall short of success.

The tabloid cited veteran FIFA observer Andrew Jennings, who suggested that England will struggle to get the 12 votes they need from the FIFA delegates in order to win. The paper adds that the FA’s main rival is the infamous Jack Warner, delegate for North and Central America and the Caribbean, who already has a number of votes apparently ‘sewn up.’
England’s bid has gained unofficial support from such figures as Franz Beckenbauer in past months, but none of it matters to the FIFA suits according to Jennings.

He told the Star, “Their attitude is ‘Beckham had better be there – and on time too. It doesn’t impress them.”

One hopes that this cynical outlook will not play out in real-life. But it shows that all the football fans in England wishing for World Cup football in 9 or 13 years’ time, should not pop open any champagne yet.

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