To Russia with love…
January 1, 2000
I have to admit to being very lucky some 44 years ago, because I was around when the 1966 World Cup was played in this country.
I didn’t realise it at the time of course; a mere 22 years of age and enjoying playing my football with Swindon Supermarine. I remember watching the final on television in the then clubhouse in South Marston off the road between Swindon and Highworth, behind the then Vickers Engineering Works.
Joy at being 2-1 up, distraught as the West German equaliser went in with the full time whistle approaching, and ecstatic when England went 3-2 and then 4-2 up <span>in extra time. So they think it’s all over, it is now. Little did I know that the now legendary phrase would also ring true in another World Cup context; there not being another Finals within these shores in my lifetime; and in the lifetimes of many football followers much younger than me.
So, back to the present; 2018, 2022 and beyond; web watching on this one is bound to start with the official FIFA website. I fully expected to find something on the home page or at least something to click on but no, afraid not. News Centre on the top horizontal bar perhaps? No not a mention of World Cup venues as far as I could see. Sorry, how daft, also on the click bar FIFA World Cup; got to be but no, just news on Brazil 2014. Try Media Channel; yes, at last, in small print on the drop list dated 2nd December two down and under three main stories of no relevance or particular interest.
The FIFA Executive Committee has chosen Russia to host the 2018 FIFA World Cup. Here are the full results of the voting rounds: 22members of the FIFAExecutiveCommittee were entitled to vote. 12 votes were needed for an absolute majority and therefore to obtain the right to host the FIFA World Cup. 2018 FIFA World Cup.
Round 1: England 2 votes, Netherlands/ Belgium 4 votes, Spain/Portugal 7 votes and Russia 9 votes (as no absolute majority was reached, the candidate with least amount of votes, England, was eliminated)
Round 2: Netherlands/Belgium 2 votes, Spain/Portugal 7 votes and Russia 13 votes (Russia obtained an absolute majority)
That’s all there was. No comment, no view points, no nothing. On the day of the vote though, it was like To Russia with Love.
What struck me was, why would two members who voted for Netherlands/ Belgium in Round 1 switch their vote to Russia in Round 2? 1 could understand the two England votes being switched to Russia, but why should members change their vote; only under direction or to reinforce a foregone conclusion perhaps.
Fair play, the finals have never been played in Eastern Europe so maybe it was their turn as prominent football nations but Qatar in 2022? 1 do have serious doubts about this one. The pulling down of stadia and rebuilding elsewhere in developing football areas is very noble, but was there anything else in the bid of note or significance? I am not really sure about that one. A venue for visiting fans and teams, I don’t think. What about the FA then? Click on the Official FA web site for a view from the top. FA General Secretary Alex Horne said: “We are very disappointed that we have been unsuccessful in our bid to host the 2018 World Cup.
“Well done to Russia. They will organise a great World Cup and we will be focused on ensuring that England play a very significant role in 2018 on the pitch. “Our England 2018 bid team and our supporters in Government deserve immense credit for conducting such a strong campaign. Most importantly, thank you to every single football fan, player, coach and referee up and down the country whose passion for the game brought us so close to success.” “Today (the day of the vote) was a disappointment in Zurich but in less than 48 hours the weekend will be upon us. And like every other weekend in England, seven million children and adults will play football while hundreds of thousands will go through the turnstiles.”
Quite so, and therein lies the problem for me and the main reason for England’s bid being turned down. Football is already here, and has been for a very long time, and before anywhere else. What’s more it always will be, it’s at the very heart of our culture and so long as the policy of FIFA is to take the World Cup Finals to new frontiers we will never play host again; not for a very long time.
On a domestic note, Ben Swallow’s last minute thunderbolt for Rovers in the area quarter finals of the Johnstone’s Paint Trophy at Wycombe has won the competition’s latest Ultimate Finish award.
Hundreds of fans voted Ben’s first ever senior goal as the best of the round. Ben now joins an elite group in winning the Ultimate Finish accolade, joining Swindon Town’s Vincent Pericard and Craig Noone of Plymouth Argyle from previous rounds.
Bristol Rovers official website reported sponsorship manager Teresa Hardwick as saying
“It is lovely to see a youngster rising through the ranks, the goal was a worthy winner.”
And so it was.
Ben Swallow and Jo Kuffour
celebrate at Wycombe