As the countdown to the kick-off in Luzhniki Stadium in Moscow on the 14th of June 2018 commences, we have a look at how Russia secured the FIFA World Cup 2018, despite the fears of corruption and security concerns that surrounded the selection.
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The Bidding Process
In 2009, FIFA called for applications from countries interested in hosting either the 2018 World Cup or the one set to take place in 2022. Certain countries were apparently interested in hosting a joint-tournament, alongside a neighbouring country.
Bids were judged on various criteria, including:
- Was the country suitable for visits from 32 teams and attendant sets of fans?
- Were there enough large stadiums?
- Would the country assist in spreading the global gospel of The Beautiful Game?
Australia, Japan, Qatar, South Korea, and the USA were only interested in the 2022 World Cup. Belgium and the Netherlands and Portugal and Spain jointly threw their hats in the ring for either, and England and Russia were also interested in both.
And Then It Kicked Off
Lord David Triesman led England’s bid, but he was forced to step down in 2010 after he told a newspaper that Russia and Spain were bribing referees. Undeterred by the fallout, he repeated these claims to a parliamentary select committee, too.
The FIFA Executive Committee of 24 took a vote, with the exception of Amos Adamu from Nigeria and Tahiti’s Reynald Temarii, who were both suspended after being caught out by a newspaper sting.
The English got only two votes, and got knocked out in the first round. Russia garnered nine votes in the initial round, Holland and Belgium four, and Spain and Portugal got seven.
Russia took 13 votes in the second round of voting, and that did the trick.
Reactions to Russia Winning
Uli Hoeneß, President of Bayern Munich, said that the only way to bid successfully nowadays is to pay a little extra under the table, and Lord Treisman firmly stood his ground, repeating his claims of corruption at the House of Commons.
Many felt that England had been rather hard done by, and there were rumours that the investigations into corruption at FIFA by the British media had caused some ill feeling and affected the final choice of host.
Was the Process Corrupt?
Officially, no evidence of wrongdoing was found, and it has to be said that Russia had a lot of things going for it. There is a huge football culture in the country, it has multiple stadiums, and the government support is clear as day. Once the World Cup begins, it will take on a life of its own, like it has every time it’s been played in the past, and these kinds of pre-tournament politics will no doubt be forgotten.
The Russian government hopes that visitors will be able to look beyond the controversies, and, to a degree, even the football games themselves, and take a peek at the rich culture behind it all.