World Cup 2018 how the bids compare

 

RUSSIA: Pros:Strong political support from both public and private sectors for a bid that promises a spend of up to €8 billion on sporting and transport infrastructure.

A number of the 16 venues are already well on the way to being delivered with five due to open by 2013 and there is a commitment to build several others from scratch while upgrading existing facilities: the Luzhniky would most likely be expanded from 78,000 seats to 89,000.

Can, and does, point to the fact that the tournament has never been staged there and that there is still huge potential for growing the game: Russia has just 5.8 million registered players, barely more than a fifth of the number in the United States.

Cons:The place is vast and despite an offer of free overland travel for visitors, there is a realisation that air travel will be critically important and a concern that, despite assurances dramatic improvements will be made, it will not be good enough.

Also, they will have a bit of work today with regard to accommodation and security. The Champions League final in Moscow a couple of years ago might have been handled very well but violence at domestic games remains a problem as does the number of reported attacks on visitors. The hotel situation in the likes of Yaroslavl, Saransk or Yekaterinburg may not inspire much confidence.

Prospects:The bookies’ favourites thanks to the fact that the boys in Fifa, particularly Sepp Blatter himself, do like to be seen to break new ground and Russia would certainly be seen as the adventurous choice. And having nicked the 2014 Winter Olympics for Sochi, from under the nose of Salzburg, there’s clearly a bit of political know how here.

Betting:8/11.

SPAIN/PORTUGAL

Pros:What’s not to like? The peninsula has a great tradition in the game, some venues already in place or well on the way and seven times as many hotel rooms as the English. The weather’s better too unless you are actually being asked to play a competitive game of football for an early afternoon TV audience and, like the English, the fans would be expected to turn out in numbers, albeit at slightly lower ticket prices.

The presence of the Portuguese enables the Spanish, who are driving the entire thing, to claim the tournament will be going somewhere new while the fact that the latter are both European and World champions just now lends a certain wow factor to the campaign’s photo ops.

Cons:Both countries are being mentioned in the money markets as the next Ireland and so the timing of the selection procedure might not be exactly ideal. Spanish prime minister Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero is said to be very supportive but, as of yesterday, he was not travelling to Zurich, which might be viewed as not quite supportive enough.

In any case, the ability of either government to justify the spending required if their economies really come under pressure over the next year or two might be stretched. Also, there is a lack of medium-sized stadiums.

Prospects:Not to be scoffed at. The backing of the South American confederation plus the one their bid chief will wield means four guaranteed votes while the alleged deal with Qatar is reckoned to bring them up to at least seven. That guarantees them entry to round two where anything can happen but where, most of the time, the voters usually want to clamber aboard a winner. If they lead early on they might end up with unstoppable momentum.

Betting: 7/2.

NETHERLANDS/BELGIUM

Pros:These two have a strong tradition in the game and the ability to point at the financial success of Euro 2000 which was the first European championships to turn a profit. Harry Been, who headed up that organising committee, is now leading this bid.

The bid team have some history, geography, star power and development plans to work with but not enough to stage a major upset. Their document is the most inventive, though, with, amongst other things, the provision of two million bikes for fans to get to and from games among the quirkier ideas put forward.

Cons:While Euro 2000 was indeed a financial success average attendances at the tournament as a whole were just 36,220 and stadiums in Belgium would again be generally small.

More importantly, though, there are serious doubts about the levels of political commitment to the bid with the technical evaluation highlighting contradictions in the bid documents and leading to a higher risk assessment than its rivals. There are other shortcomings but, barring a dramatic show of support, the governmental stuff should prove fatal.

Prospects:Poor. The bid has won friends but, it seems, few firm commitments and while there is a chance that they will get enough support to knock one of the big boys out they are likely to bite the dust soon after.

Betting:33/1.

ENGLAND

Pros:After World Cups in South Africa and Brazil, England would be an easy option for Fifa with much of the infrastructure already in place and a strong political will evident in regard to delivering the rest.

The English would deliver large stadiums, which they would expect to sell out, going a long way to ensuring a profitable tournament. The Premier League’s success means that there are also strong links between the game and broadcasters/sponsors. .

Cons:Politically the bid has been a bit of a mess with several shifts in emphasis and personnel resulting in a disjointed campaign that has repeatedly become embroiled in battles with its own media. Few lessons appear to have been learned from the botched bid for 2006. Unlike some of their rivals, they have staged the tournament before and there is little that can be put on the table in terms of Fifa’s beloved “legacy” as the game enjoys near saturation levels of popularity already.

Prospects:Not great but it will take heart from the successful Olympic bid. If it secures enough votes to get past the first round then the hope is that it will pick up support from each losing candidate but its best hope is that Russia goes out early and it benefits from a reluctance to go with Spain and Portugal because it is a joint bid.

Betting:2/1.