As it’s a quiet Arsenal week with the international break and I’m currently in transit from Asia to Africa in Dubai, I thought I might blog today on the prospects for England’s World Cup bid for either 2018 or 2022.  
The bid was recently launched at Wembley. It being Blighty, things could
n’t go smoothly of course. Controversy ensued with the presence of a British National Party member of the London Assembly. 

I for one think the bid should have been a British bid including Scotland and Wales. Football politics we’re told ruled this out which is stupid. The bid would have been stronger and more cost-effective with large grounds already up and running in Cardiff, Edinburgh (Murrayfield) and Glasgow (perm two from Hamden, Parkhead and Ibrox). Still that’s water under the bridge now. The bid is what it is. I personally back it one hundred percent.  
But will we get the World Cup? Eeeeemmm. The honest truth is England is in the fight of its life to get either the 2018 or 2022 World Cups. FIFA’s 24 member executive committee will make the decision by exhaustive ballot just over a year from now in December 2010. In the event of a 12-12 tie on the final ballot FIFA president Sepp Blatter gets the casting vote.  
Here’s the competition:  

  • Australia
  • Belgium & the Netherlands
  • Indonesia
  • Japan
  • Mexico
  • Portugal & Spain
  • Qatar (2022 only)
  • Russia
  • South Korea (2022 only)
  • USA  

FIFA will decide on the hosts for both tournaments at the same meeting but almost certainly in separate votes. As the tournament will not have been held in Europe for twelve years by the time 2018 rolls around one of the two is almost certain to go to Europe, most likely 2018.  
Of the other European bids England (1966) and Spain (1982) have already hosted the tournament. Belgium & the Netherlands haven’t had a World Cup but they co-hosted the 2000 European Championships. Portugal hosted Euro 2004 and is co-bidding with Spain this time. Russia is the only major tournament virgin in the bidding from Europe.  
Strangely enough it’s actually Russia I see as the biggest danger to England’s bid, despite the fact that it lacks the grounds, transport and hotel infrastructure that can be offered by the other European bidders. It all depends how
determined the Russian government is to get behind the bid. If it pulls out all the diplomatic stops the pressure could be unbearable. A Russian World Cup would be interesting, to say the least, but a logistical nightmare for supporters with huge distances and a poorly developed transport infrastructure. There’s also the question of Russia’s notoriously bureaucratic and slow visa system. They got round this for the 2008 Champions League Final by waiving the visa requirement for a couple of days for match ticket holders. Will they be prepared to do this for an entire month? Who knows?
Of the other European bidders I think it’s pretty much even Stephen between England, Belgium/Netherlands and Portugal/Spain. All have proven track records with recent big tournaments and have most of the stadium, transport, hotel and security structures already in place. England needs to play the same blinder that the London 2012 Olympic Bid Team did to land the tournament.  
I really hope it happens. I was ten years old the last time the party came to town. It being the summer however I was back in my native Wales where I spent all my summer holidays as a child. I do remember the excitement of watching the games on television however. If we don’t get 2018 or 2022 I’m unlikely to see a World Cup in Blighty again before I pop my clogs.  
There could even be an Arsenal connection if the bid is successful. The Grove is one of five grounds in London under consideration for use, along with Wembley, the Olympic Stadium, Twickenham and the new Spurs ground (don’t all laugh at once). Current FIFA rules restrict any city to two stadia. I can’t see that rule changing although London Mayor Boris Johnson wants it to. I think it will end up being Wembley and the Grove for London.  
If you want to back the bid text and London text “ London” to 62018.  
That’s all for today. My flight’s being called!  
Keep the faith!