MON, 4PM ET
QPR
AST
TUES, 3:45PM ET
SHR
CHE
TUES, 4PM ET
LIV
SWA
WED, 3:45PM ET
MCFC
NUFC
WED, 4PM ET
TOT
BRI
THURS, 3:45PM ET
VER
LAZ

Why Russia Could Beat England to Host 2018 World Cup

  Why Russia Could Beat England to Host 2018 World Cup

This week The FIFA inspection committee responsible for producing the report on all the possible host countries for the 2018 and 2022 World Cups visits England.  The committee will be touring London, Manchester, Sunderland and Newcastle, inspecting stadia, looking at infrastructure, and getting charmed by David Beckham, Fabio Capello and Bobby Charlton.

Many English fans consider themselves a lock for hosting 2018 World Cup.  In their view, there is no European nation that can match their stadia, infrastructure, or passion for the game.  England is the birth place for soccer, and has not hosted its greatest tournament, since 1966.  For English fans, it is time for the cup to return home.

However, all history and nostalgia aside, there are some very practical forces that are endangering England’s bid.  England’s main competition for 2018 hosting responsibilities is Russia, and there are several critical reasons for FIFA to find a Russian World Cup more attractive.

England has stadia, but they are old and small

England brags that it already has all the infrastructure it needs and would not have to build a single new stadium for World Cup 2018.  However, what England sees as an asset, FIFA may look at as a detriment.  England does have plenty of venues for the World Cup, but only three of them, Wembley, Old Trafford and Emirates, seat more than 60,000.  In fact, for the top 10 stadia in England, six of them seat fewer than 50,000.  For the 2010 World Cup in South Africa, the host country used 10 stadia that had a total seating capacity of 548,000.  The top 10 stadia in England would have a capacity of 25,000 fewer seats.

Apart from the seating capacity, almost as critical to FIFA is the nature of those stadia.  Included in that list are some grand dames like Anfield, Goodison Park, Villa Park and Stamford Bridge.  While these structures may overflow with memories and lore, what they are not packed with is luxury boxes, corporate entertainment facilities and the amenities that FIFA needs to wine and dine their critical commercial sponsors.  FIFA has three sources of income during a World Cup – ticket sales, corporate sponsorship, and licensing fees (both for merchandise and broadcast rights).  The facilities in England will limit their potential ticket sales and make the care and feeding of their sponsors (who have, after all, forked over billions of dollars for the privilege) far more challenging. 

Russia, on the other hand, would have to build most of its stadia from scratch.  While this may look like a detriment to some, to FIFA that is actually a positive.  Having just come from South Africa, where the majority of its venues were newly constructed and built with all the modern sporting amenities in place, the entire situation was close to ideal.  If lowly South Africa can pull off that trick, there is little doubt that Russia can too.  In the last decade, Russia has been on an airport and hotel building spree, and if there is any skill the Russians have, it is in the building of large (and occasionally ponderous) urban infrastructure.  If Russia can convince FIFA that they have the commitment to build the venues necessary for World Cup 2018, England’s existing stadia could actually hinder their bid.

FIFA prioritizes emerging soccer markets over existing ones

England will undoubtedly tout its unreserved fanaticism for the game while Russia is still a country that cares more about hockey and gymnastics.  However, like the stadia issue, this may be a positive for FIFA.  FIFA has an evangelical streak about them, and likes to proselytize about the beautiful game to the uninitiated.  They like to use every other World Cup to break into new markets, expand the passion for game, and convert more followers into the church of football.  USA 1994, Korea/Japan 2002, and South Africa 2010 represent their latest efforts in this crusade.  With the 2014 Cup being held in Brazil, FIFA may look at 2018 as another missionary opportunity.

And Russia is a real growth opportunity.  This emerging market with millions of potential soccer aficionados is exactly the kind of growth opportunity that makes FIFA salivate.  Russia has money and population, and FIFA feels like they are not getting their fair share of either.  Putting a World Cup in Russia may be exactly battering ram that breaks down the door for a significant new revenue stream for FIFA.

Conversely, from a business perspective, FIFA may look at England as a saturated market place with little opportunity for growth.  For the green eye-shades at FIFA, bringing the World Cup to Newcastle would be like bringing coal to, well, Newcastle.

Those passionate English fans are a tad bit scary

During the 2006 World Cup in Germany, the security precautions put into place to control the English fans were extraordinary.  Many English fans have a very unsavory reputation, and long list were drawn up of supporters who were prohibited from travelling to Germany for the games.   For the first time (at least since 1945 or so), English security forces were allowed into Germany to help maintain order.  And yet, there were plenty of incidents and acts of violence as a few bad apples reflected poorly on a nation of civil football supporters.

For a World Cup stationed in England, no bad apples will be prohibited or controlled.  You cannot keep an Englishman , no matter his reputation, from getting on train to an English stadium or from approaching a pub where a French or Italian or German fans have gathered or from doing anything violent until they have actually done it and broken the law.  While England thug culture has certainly dissipated from its Thatcherite heyday, nobody would argue that it has gone away.  If the authorities had such a difficult time controlling the English fans in Berlin, how are they going to control them in London, Manchester or Liverpool?  This is an issue that weighs heavily on FIFA’s mind.

Comparatively, for better or worse, Russia does have some history and some skill in the arts of maintaining civil order. 

How all of these issues resonate with FIFA will not be known until December 2, when FIFA announces who will host the 2018 and 2022 World Cups.  However, shorting England’s overinflated odds of being declared a host might be a good bet. 

This entry was posted in General, Leagues: EPL. Bookmark the permalink.

38 Responses to Why Russia Could Beat England to Host 2018 World Cup

  1. efrain says:

    Umm, what about USA! Obviously I am biased, but it would rock if we won the bid.

  2. patrick says:

    Russian hooligans are the worst… and most of their stadiums are old as well. I doubt they have the real capital to build 8 new stadiums.

    I personally see it USA 2018, England 2022.

  3. Tom Hingley says:

    Not well researched at all.

    At their current capacities, the stadia may house 25,000 less than SA. But most the stadia included in the bid have extensive expansion plans.

    Also, with regards to them being old, Anfield for example. It would be a NEW Liverpool stadium included. In fact, NONE of the stadiums included in the bid would be anything like old. (I don’t know where you have got the idea that Goodison is included in a bid).

    I see no evidence that FIFA ‘prioritises’ emerging markets. Yes they are looking to expand the game, but that hasn’t been to the detriment of existing markets.

    Lastly, not since Euro 2004 have England fans been apart of widespread trouble. The policing methods that have stopped this will be applied to an England 2018 WC. And actually, there WILL be powers to stop certain people being within the vicinity of a WC match. I know this site has talked up hooliganism in recent articles, but it really isn’t an issue anymore. Russian hooliganism on the other hand…

    It is a travesty that England hasn’t hosted a World Cup since 66, and would be disgraceful should we not win this bid – ON MERIT.

    • Eric Altshule says:

      Tom-

      I don’t think this is correct. There may be new stadia that come on-line between now and 2018, but they are all theoretical and not part of England’s bid package. In fact, I think the reason why the English bid committee is specifically NOT taking the inspectors to Liverpool is that there is nothing there they want to show them. Moreover, the central thesis of the English bid is that they already have the infrastructure to host the cup in place and do not need to build anything.

      As for the thugs, my sense is that both the authorities and FIFA are less concerned about security in and around the venues, all of which has been greatly improved in the past 20 years. Going to a game in England is not at all dangerous. In fact, I would guess that the people FIFA fears are the people who would never buy a ticket. FIFA and the British authorities are far more concerned about violence around pubs, the public viewing areas and the streets. This was the chief concern of the German authorities four years ago, and would be much tougher to control if the Cup was in England.

      • Tom Hingley says:

        Thanks for replying Eric, firstly, regarding the stadiums, have a look at this list of cities/stadiums included in the bid:

        Birmingham – Villa Park; Bristol – New Ashton Vale Stadium; Leeds – Elland Road; Liverpool – Anfield or New Anfield; London – Wembley, Emirates Stadium, New White Hart Lane or Olympic Stadium; Manchester – City of Manchester Stadium, Old Trafford; Milton Keynes – Stadium MK; Newcastle – St James’ Park; Nottingham – New stadium; Plymouth – New Home Park; Sheffield – Hillsborough; Sunderland – Stadium of Light

        New/rebuilt stadiums outnumber existing ones, and all the existing stadiums in that list have planned massive extension & modernisation work. But also don’t underestimate the influence of tradition and sentiment. The vast corporate spaces at the new stadiums more than make up for any shortfall there may be at fine traditional football venues such as Hillsbrough’. Furthermore, if the SA World Cup proved anything, it was that masses of corporate spaces are not needed for many of the lower profile games. Thus I really don’t see FIFA having an issue with lack of corporate facilities in English stadiums.

        Re the hooligan issue. I agree that it is impossible to predict 100% what may happen. But during the mid-nineties, when the hooligan problem was far worse than now, England hosted a fantastic Euro96, with no hooligan issues at all. Thugs are in a massive minority, and when a whole country pulls together to host an event, they are put into a complete minority (unlike when they travel en masse abroad), and watered down. Furthermore, Germany had the problem of some nasty characters from Netherlands, Poland etc, all travelling across the border, and still there wasn’t much trouble. I don’t envisage foreign fans being mobbed by English thugs in English town centres TBH.

  4. [OPTI]Madschester United says:

    I think your points are well-thought out and deserve attention, especially about the market potential available in Russia. But you seem to act like England would accept the status quo and let millions of fans sit in old small stadia.

    Don’t you think England would renovate their stadia in the next 8 / 12 years if they were elected to host a World Cup?

    What about the fact that Russia’s mass transportation services stink compared to England — actually, I just made it up. I have only been to London twice and never Russia. I just cannot imagine that Russia’s network be better than England… anyone?

    • AtlantaPompey says:

      Having been there, I can tell you that Moscow’s subway system is every bit as good as the tube, the roads/airports/rail are all top notch and getting around the country would not be an issue at all.

  5. tony says:

    It’s all politics my friends. 2018 can’t be the US in 2018 cause it’s Europes turn. China is almost guaranteed 22 or 26 so that means US, politically has to get the other one, 22 or 26. Since this US and China gets 2022 & 2026 then Russia wants to get 2018 for the Super Power Trifecta.

    • Tom Hingley says:

      China haven’t applied for 2022. And 2018 isn’t technically anyone’s turn since the rotation policy is long gone.

      The 2018 and 2022 bids are being analysed together, however certain bids are directed towards certain years.

      If England is to get it, it will be 2018.

  6. Simon Burke says:

    Well said Tony, Americans that still think they are getting 2018 clearly don’t read. England deserve it on merit but it is all politics. Russia pose a very serious threat as Sepp loves to bring football to new places and Russia will have limitless resources. Russia’s problem is converting stadia and picking locations , basically all the games will end up around Moscow so will they have the ability to house all the fans? Also Russia is notorious for slow visa processing and that will have to change in their culture if they awarded it.
    I hope England get it but I wouldn’t put my house on it.

    • Alex says:

      Russia stated that they will waive all visa requirements. They already did a similar thing for all-English European final, which was much better organized than the one in UK (although it was rain in Moscow). It is absolutely clear that Russia will not stage all events near Moscow. They already named the cities, including Kazan (remember how Rubin Kazan bit Barcelona last year). There is a new (great trend) in Russia now of staging international events in cities different from Moscow or St. Petersburg. So do not worry.

      • Simon Burke says:

        Hopefully but its one thing to promise a comparatively few visas for one match as opposed to opening its borders to countries all over for an entire month.
        I cant say I know where Kazan is and I am too lazy to google it but they’ll need 8 cities (maybe 6) to host it that are reachable.

  7. SpursInTheUSA says:

    I don’t get this whole England deserves it on merit thing. Merit of what, being good football fans? If we’re talking merit on simple ability, the USA wins pretty hands down, in terms of infrastructure and stadia. The USA has state of the art, massive stadiums, with everything FIFA needs already constructed. No white elephants here. And any World Cup in the USA is always going to make ridiculous amounts of money. 94 still holds the financial records.

    • Tom Hingley says:

      I don’t see how the US wins hands down?

      Yes, you have fantastic stadiums and infrastructure. But you can’t really say the stadiums are superior to England’s (which are 100% football specific) and your infrastructure is certainly no better. (Remember, public transport is key to any bid).

      Minus points for the US include the vast distances between host cities, the fact that the US is further away geographically for the majority of travelling fans, and (despite great improvements) a still largely football apathetic public. Chances are an England World Cup in the modern age would equal the financial records of 1994.

      The US and England both have great bids, with positives outweighing the negatives, but I can’t see how you can say the US wins hands-down. When people say England deserves it, it is referring to the fact we haven’t been given it in so long. Wouldn’t it strike you as unfair if the US got 2018 so soon after 1994, when England has been waiting since 1966?

      • SpursInTheUSA says:

        Not really, as it should go on merit, rather than this little league everyone should get to share business going on here.

        As to financial potential, I’m sorry but the UK would not beat the USA, at all. As mentioned in the article one of the main sources of income for FIFA is ticket sales. How many stadiums does the England bid have with capacity above 65,000? 5 in a best case scenario. How many does the United States have? Every single stadium, or 21 in this case. The US potential is far greater than England. I’ll even do a mock up of ten probably venues for each one, with England’s being the best case scenario. Keep in mind I’m also keeping with FIFA’s habit to not have more than 2 stadiums be used in a single city, and to only have 1 city pull double duty:

        England:
        Wembley, London – 90,000
        Olympic Stadium, London – 80,000
        Old Trafford, Manchester – 76,000
        Stanley Park, Liverpool – 72,000
        Stadium of Light, Sunderland – 64,000
        St. James Park, Newcastle – 60,000
        Elland Road, Leeds – 51,000
        Nottingham Forest Stadium, Nottingham – 50,000
        Villa Park, Birmingham – 50,000
        Home Park, Plymouth – 50,000

        Total Capacity: 643,000

        USA:
        Rose Bowl, Los Angeles – 94,500
        LA Coliseum, Los Angeles – 93,500
        FedEx Field, Washington DC – 91,500
        Cowboys Stadium, Dallas – 91,500
        Meadowlands Stadium, NYC – 82,500
        Sun Life Stadium, Miami – 80,000
        Gilette Stadium, Boston – 73,000
        Husky Stadium, Seattle – 72,500
        Phoenix Stadium, Phoenix – 71,000
        Lincoln Financial, Philadelphia – 69,000

        Total Capacity: 819,000

        As to the whole public transport question, transport is fine and really not anything detrimental to the bid, you act as if the United States treats trains and public transport like the plague. As to the whole apathetic fans thing, the USA has a much larger population, and Americans will buy tickets and go to games just because they can and it’s a huge event they can say they went to. It’s not like South Africa where the majority of home fans are out priced by the event, people here can and will pay.

        • School u 2 the game says:

          i despise your nonsense…..whats with the english grounds and the capacities? its almost make belief…..and making me wonder about how legit and accurate your knowledge on the american stadiums is. the last thing the world cup needs is ppl going to the games for the hell of it …real football fans hate this and it wasnt just home fans priced out the ticket allocations were ridiculous,it also creates a boring atmosphere …half of americans dont know the rules…dont like the sport and we invented it so get over it. England 2018

          • Brandon says:

            Calm down. There is enough Soccer fans in the US to fill stadiums trust me. England can get ’18 for all I care because they are crying like little babies.

          • SpursInTheUSA says:

            Whether you like it or not non football fans are always going to go to games. It’s just not a guarantee they’ll afford it. Also who cares if you invented it, it doesn’t make it your birthright, and no, those capacities are correct, I was even generous with the English capacities and added on more than was projected. And the American capacities are spot on, if a little smaller than claimed in the bid. It isn’t that hard to screw up capacities.

          • Pakapala says:

            ::::: the last thing the world cup needs is ppl going to the games for the hell of it …real football fans hate this and it wasnt just home fans priced out the ticket allocations were ridiculous,it also creates a boring atmosphere :::::

            Funny you should say that, when time and time again, the whole mission of the EPL has been to keep “real football fans” and their trouble away from the stadia. Not so different from FIFA, no?
            The idea that England should host the game just because they invented it is ridiculous just like the idea that because the game was invented by them, they thought they should win every world cup!

        • Tom says:

          They won’t use those two stadiums in LA, they are both substandard bowls with no weather protection for the fans. As for 2018, I agree that it is too soon after the US just hosted the cup in 94. These things are suppose to move around. I’m American, but it just seems wrong for the cup not to go to Europe in 2018, they are so fun in Europe because the cites are close together. I favor Belgium/Netherlands, but England would also be great.

          One question: Why do so few NFL stadiums have roofs for the fans? I was thinking about this while being baked in the sun at the new Broncos stadium this weekend (watching college football).

  8. You make a point that South Africa have 25,000 more seats in total than the English stadiums, yet how many games were sold out for that? Albeit that with FIFA’s fault for not selling tickets to locals as much, but in England you’d be gauranteed to sellout every game.

    Also as mentioned above, many of the stadiums will be renovated and there are quite a few new ones like Britsol City’s. Places like Stamford Bridge, Anfield and St. James have seen massive improvements to make them more modern and have great facilities.

    The point about the hooligans is also a bit unfounded, Euro 96 was great and it’s not like every football fan in England is a hooligan, the majority would love the chance to see World Cup football and aren’t interested in starting riots. Russia have a lot of hooligan problems as well, it’s a problem that happens in most European countries.

    I do agree that FIFA favour the more developing football countries and truth although I’d like to see World Cup football on my doorstep, they should give it to different countries that haven’t had a chance to host a World Cup before, it’s only fair really.

  9. Brian says:

    With regards to who would have a higher attendance record, it would really boil down to if the USA or England had a higher stadium capacity, I feel both countries would be able to get close to sellouts for every single game, so capacity would really determine who had a higher attendance. I think the biggest point that FIFA cares about is the luxury boxes/ wining and dining corporate sponsors, and on that point I think the US has the upperhand with the large number of luxury suites that are available in NFL and college stadiums, now England will certainly be upping the number of these suites in renovations and new stadiums, but I doubt they will be able match up due to the nature of the EPL compared to the NFL in this regard

  10. lee says:

    america has no football heritage or culture they had it in 94 so they can fu%k off

    • SpursInTheUSA says:

      Intelligent response. We had no heritage or culture yet manage to fill up stadiums better than those who do. Makes sense.

      • School u 2 the game says:

        Americans fill up football.. (real Football) stadiums better than others? u name me a few mls teams who do this …we are talking about football ..show me proof of the great attendances

        • This One Guy in Detroit says:

          Americans fill up football.. (real Football) stadiums better than others?

          Uh, who needs to be “schooled” on the game here? It’s common knowledge that the 1994 World Cup stands as the most attended in history. Anybody with a rudimentary knowledge of football history knows that.

          http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/1994_FIFA_World_Cup

          And that’s despite the fact that there were 12 fewer games in the ’94 World Cup than today.

  11. jleau says:

    Well written article.

    Russia should worry the English. There are a lot of things to like about a Russian bid and Blatter doesn’t help England’s cause.

    I don’t really see England’s football culture or being the “bithplace” of the game really makes a difference. It means somthing to the English but that’s about it. I doubt that is even a top priority for FIFA. Not saying that’s right just the way it is.

    • churchills debut says:

      yes it means nothing to the millions of ppl who play and watch the game we invented ….?? obviously it does or u wouldnt even be on this site. The fact we invented this game contributed more than anything any other country has done or there wouldnt be football,not saying we deserve a world cup for it but ultimatley u are all talking about a game which without us wouldnt exsist

      • jleau says:

        Not sure I follow any of that. However, wasn’t saying that it meant nothing in the scope of football history. Just don’t think it means anything in terms of bid selection. That’s my take on where FIFA is coming from.

        Either way you’re over doing it a bit.

  12. IanCransonsKnees says:

    Blatter, currently on a visit to Singapore, said: “The easiest way to organise the World Cup is to go to England. Everything is there – fans, stadiums, infrastructure – it’s easy.”

    It’ll come down to politics, nothing else. The quote above is irrelevant.

  13. icebreaker says:

    Yep, it’ll come down to politics and economic potential.

    However a short list of the positives and negatives:

    England:
    - good infrastructure, very passionate fans. Easy and relatively cheap to reach for international fans, something I think might be important for FIFA after they saw the lack of international fans in SA. Hoolganism is not a problem I would say.
    - Negatives: reputation for arrogance and expecting the WC because you invented the game (see comments by Nick Clegg, or even on this blog!), bit of modesty would sometimes go a long way…

    Russia:
    - needs to built a lot of infrastructure, but that is actually a bonus as many big companies and countries have great interest in such projects (for example Germany, which has been building close economic ties to Russia, might be swayed by this argument).
    - without visas the traveling has become easier, still Russias a huge country and venues would probably be far apart, at least compared to England, so this might be a negative.
    - FIFA does like to give WC to what it sees as emerging markets.
    - don’t see a problem with hooliganism here either, pretty sure that the authorities would really crack down on anything, similar to SA.

    All in all, its very close I’d say and probably depends on how serious the Russians are about the bid, and how much money they are willing to throw at it. Still, the chances for England are very good.

  14. MPLSGuy says:

    I understand that the sentiment that the US does not have football tradition like its European counterparts, thus it would not suppoprt a world cup. What gives the US an advantage is it’s size. With a current population of 310 million, even if 10 percent of the country is into football, that is 31 million people, that is half the population of UK.

    My hope is that both US and England get the world cup, as I think they are both deserving of it.

  15. John Gregory says:

    My hope is as well that the US and England both get the World Cup, either in 2018 or 2022.

    The US seems completely natural to get either one of them (don’t bother discussing the possible politics, because we truly have no idea what they are). No other country comes close to the number of stadiums with 60,000+ capacity (78 total by my count)-so every game could have massive attendance, and there are no shortage of options for backups or flexibility for scheduling events. On top of that, nearly every NFL stadium has been built or renovated in the last 20 years, all due to the want of more luxury boxes-AND the World Cup would end a good month before even the NFL preseason kicks off.

    Anyone’s point about an “apathetic” fanbase in the US needs to get their head on straight and leave their hatred and resentment at the door. A US World Cup would completely shatter their own attendance records, give the MLS another shot in the arm, and further build up the fanbase for the game. If the latest rises in World Cup, EPL, and Champions League ratings on US TV is any indication, it’s that us Americans will definitely tune in to watch the game-when it’s the best playing and when it’s readily available.

    I hope I’m in a financial position to travel to England when they get the Cup, be it 2018 or 2022.

  16. Mitchum says:

    If anything, the smaller stadium capacities in most English football grounds are a bonus. You only have to look at how most of the time the stadiums in SA were only about 70-80% full to realise that a tighter capacity venue would almost guarantee a lot more full houses in England. Russia has a similarly high proportion of low income earning people who can’t afford expensive WC ticket prices as SA, so we could very possibly expect to see another World Cup of quarter or more empty stadiums if it were to be awarded to them. So with this in mind, I think the atmosphere in the closer-to-the-action compact stadia of England could be one of the best ever seen.

  17. Magnus says:

    Maybe SA would’ve filled up all their stadia were it not for all the negative doom & gloom perpetrated by the media. Even at that they still did a good job organizing the cup and getting a decent amount of international visitors.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>