With the public anger still raging over the ludicrous decision to appoint Russia as FIFA World Cup hosts in 2018, will the tournament be as awful as people imagine it to be?
The showpiece of the competition will be the Luzhniki Stadium in Moscow. The stadium, a 5 star UEFA rated venue has recently hosted a major final, the 2008 Champions League Final. Handling English fans (the final was Chelsea against Manchester United) in a place like Moscow was not an easy job but a spokeswoman from the British Embassy praised the Russian authorities for their security and logistical arrangements.
A magnificent centrepiece nonetheless
Fourteen cities will combine into five clusters; the Northern, the Central, the Vulga, the Southern and the East of Ural. By 2013, Russia hope to have five stadiums fit to host the tournament, clearly a huge financial job greater than completing Wembley Stadium was. Of those stadia, three will be over the 50,000 capacity mark, showing that FIFA do not always go for the most commercially viable. Nine venues need to be structured in seven and a half years and with harsh winters fiercer than we are experiencing currently, it will be a close call!
Under the anger, can you not at least agree that in Russia there are some spectacular sights, with each city capable of producing many images worthy of desktop background standards? The average temperature in June in Russia reaches only 14 degrees Celsius, similar to South Africa and perfect footballing conditions, albeit not if you want to combine touring the country and watching football.
Football in the new host country will skyrocket. They hope to return to heavyweights of world football, like they were when formerly known as CIS or the USSR. And the new popularity of football in Russia can only mean extra participation, as it would anywhere. Home to 180 nationalities and spanning across Asia and into Europe, the amount of people football can reach is vastly greater than that of any other bid. Dedicated towards their bid, the Russian Government has waved any FIFA legal processes to prevent conflict. The Government has also seen the money put into the game be generated to good effect as thousands of people are now involved in the game and the national side are ranked 6th in the world, even having not qualified for the tournament in 2010.
The legacy would be huge. However, the size of the country could be a hindrance as 9 time zones are represented across Russia with football being played in 2. Travel is a major issue with links to each sector less than impressive and hotels and infrastructure predicted less than perfect. The security measures in a previously but still in places communist country will be a massive risk but does it pose the same risks as South Africa had? Racism for sure as one interviewed player from the Russian Premier League was still subject to racist chanting. But a lot can happen in 8 years and we will have to see if Russia can live up to the hype.
Of the Panorama show this Monday, you cannot help but feel cheated as criminals such as Jack Warner continue to get their way. The only nation to have received 100% backing in each category, England, must feel aggrieved and slightly suspicious with a rich nation such as Russia winning, and then Qatar also winning minutes after. You just hope that the programme has the chutzpah to produce another programme if any fresh allegations of the England bid are uncovered, but we just have to go on and wait another few decades before football truly does return home.
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