Nov 8, 2010

England would prefer to win the World Cup rather than host it

By Jake Harrison

England’s hopes to host the 2018 World Cup took a turn for the worse recently as it was revealed that the media have “significantly damaged” their bid to host the coveted tournament. But do England really want to stage the World Cup in eight years time?

The World Cup in South Africa cost nearly $1.5 billion. While England won’t require the building of brand new stadiums and infrastructure, it is estimated that the cost of showcasing the 2018 competition would not be too different to that of the 2010 event. The World Cup may have brought South Africa great buildings and some sort of financial aid but the actual football that was seen at the tournament was, on the whole, pretty poor. England, especially, played below what is expected of such a hopeful nation.

The last time England won a major tournament was in 1966, and the closest they’ve come since is Euro ’96, where a semi-final defeat extended the years of hurt evermore. England hosted both of these tournaments, and the fact that the country did so well in both tournaments that they have hosted can hardly be a coincidence.

The fact that the FA seem so desperate to host the World Cup is quite shameful. The Football Association spent £35,000 on a Caribbean football gala earlier this year and, this time last year, vice-President of FIFA and the head of England’s 2018 bid, Geoff Thompson, presented the wives of all twenty-four men on FIFA’s executive committee with handbags, worth £230 each. All of these dubious frivolities are hardly surprising considering that the host of the 2018 World Cup will be decided by an organisation ridden with allegations of scandals and fraud.

The FA have gone to great lengths to persuade FIFA that England is the perfect host. They’ve created a website which receives support from football fans all over the world, they’ve recruited ambassadors from around the globe, ranging from former England goalkeeper Peter Shilton, to former Manchester City forward and Brazilian international Robinho to England’s latest star, James Milner. They’ve even wheeled in superstar David Beckham to help enhance the bid. Beckham visited FIFA vice-President Jack Warner recently to help “boost the bid”. Warner is seen as one of the most corrupt men in football and, although most allegations have yet to be proved correct, the fact that England’s prized asset is forced to cosy up with Warner to help the bid is simply sickening.

The FA, though, should be focusing their efforts on improving the football, rather than throwing money at anything left, right and centre. Hosting a World Cup would, of course, bring many benefits. Local businesses and hotels will gain massively from new revenue, the spirit of the nation would be high, if only during the tournament, and hopefully, the quality of football will improve with the amount of support the team will have behind them. However, staging the tournament is not going to change the fact that England are not good enough to win the World Cup. Compared to other top nations (Spain, Brazil, Germany, Argentina), England have little depth and are slightly one-dimensional.

The amount of money that is going to be spent on this tournament would be much better spent on improving the current youth system and therefore aiding the future of English football. The FA are still paying for Wembley, with ticket prices increasing at obscene rates in the last five years. This money (estimated at over £750 million) could have gone into recuperating the football of England, instead of building a stadium which England didn’t really need.

The FA will of course continue to bribe, however discretely, FIFA into giving England the privilege of hosting the World Cup and they will continue to blame the media for ruining the bid. But the media are not ruining the bid. They are simply voicing the concerns of a nation who, deep down, know that there are bigger problems afoot.

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