Russian World Cup 2018 bid inspires FIFA
Russia has won the right to host the prestigious event for the first time in the country’s history, in what the end was a remarkable landslide victory, leading to jubilant scenes amongst the delegation.
The Russian Prime Minister touched down in Zurich within just a few hours of the announcement to give his congratulations to his country’s delegation.
“Ladies and gentlemen, each bid is very special and significant. Each bid is a challenge. And we are honored to win in this tough and fair fight. You can take my word for it that 2018 World Cup in Russia will be up to the highest standards. New modern stadiums and facilities will be built in time and to perfection. We are eager to do our best to secure the comfort and safety of our guests,” Vladimir Putin said in English.
After being favorites with the bookmakers to win the right to hold the world cup for months, Russia came into the day of the vote trailing a rejuvenated England bid.
However, with the advantage of going last, and a bid focusing on leaving not just a footballing, but a social legacy, Russia produced a slick final presentation, with the likes of Andrey Arshavin and multiple pole-vault word-record-holder Elena Isinbaeva with both producing moving speeches in English.
”I am calm now ’cause we won. Now we have to fulfill our commitments and hope everything will be built in the shortest time possible; and that the children will now have a place where they can do sports in a place where we will find new stars and motivate development of youth programs. This is a huge event,” Elena Isinbaeva told RT.
It was an anxious wait for the four bid teams hoping to host the 2018 championship, as they arrived at FIFA’s headquarters for the moment of truth.
But for the Russian bid team it was one worth waiting for. They managed to secure nine votes in the first round, leaving them needing just three more for an outright victory, which they managed to attain in the very next round.
”First of all, it’s an overwhelming feeling, because you did it not only for yourself. When you’re a football player, you do it for the team of course, but most of all you do it for yourself, for your performance. But now you realize that you do it for your country. It’s an amazing feeling,” Aleksey Smertin, football commentator and former Chelsea player, said.
Disappointment for England in particular, who had high hopes coming into the bid after some strong last-minute campaigning from Prime Minister David Cameron, Prince William and David Beckham. But for all that hard work, they could only muster two votes, and went out in the first round.
”We can be proud of ourselves, but obviously, we’re disappointed. But we said congratulations to the two countries that got 2018 and 2022. So congratulations to them,” David Beckham commented.
But now is when the hard work starts in earnest for the Russians. They will have to spend billions of dollars over the next eight years, getting the country up to scratch to host one of the world’s biggest events.
Around $6 billion has been allocated to get the country’s stadiums up to scratch, but much more money will have to ploughed in to get the country’s transport system ready to handle the hundreds of thousands of fans who will travel to Russia.
Leaving a legacy and the fact that Russia had never hosted a World Cup before, proved crucial in swaying the FIFA delegates to vote for them – a fact emphasized by Qatar surprisingly winning the right to host the 2022 competition.
But now it is up to Russia’s bid team to deliver on their promises which, if fulfilled, will not only turn Russia into a footballing powerhouse, but also leave a lasting legacy for the country as a whole.