By Nick Harris
26 August 2010
Fifa’s inspection of England’s proposed facilities for the 2018 World Cup ended today in praise, and with reassurance that not seeing a Premier League game and not getting to meet the Prime Minister would not harm England’s chances of staging the event. David Cameron is on holiday, and his wife Samantha has just given birth to a daughter, Florence Rose Endellion.
Fifa’s 24-man Executive Committee will vote on the destination of the tournament on 2 December. Part of the run-up to that is the inspection process, to all bidding nations. The inspection team has been led by Chile’s Harold Mayne-Nicholls, but has not featured any ExCo members. The delegation will report back to Fifa on what they found.
The summing-up speeches by Andy Anson, England 2018’s bid chief executive, and Mayne-Nicholls (both reproduced in full below), tell you pretty much what’s happened these past few days.
England’s 2018 team showed off good facilities and famous names and pledged a legacy, and the Fifa chaps said: “Good, good.” As they tend to say to most bidders.
England are the bookies favourites, with Russia perceived as the main competition, to be taken extremely seriously. The joint bid from Spain-Portugal is a live contender while the Netherlands-Belgium bid would be a surprise winner, and the USA, while still technically in this race, might as well forget about 2018. It’s almost certainly going to Europe, leaving America plus Australia, Japan Qatar and South Korea in the chase for 2022, also to be decided in December.
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HAROLD MAYNE-NICHOLLS’ SPEECH
Last Monday, when we arrived in London, we have told you, that we are here mainly to learn as much as possible during the upcoming days of inspection.
Now, when the four day’s programme comes to a conclusion, we are happy to confirm to you that we were able to learn a lot about how Football is established here, the country in general, its people and the great desire and enthusiasm to host the tournament in 2018 or 2022.
Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg emphasized a few times, that the government, despite any future political change, would be truly committed to organize the World Cup and would make sure that the FIFA World Cup requirements will be met. As he put it in his own words “Football is part of the glue that keeps our country together”.
This kind of full commitment and passion we have also seen in all cities we have been visiting. They all made very clear to us, what a World Cup would mean to their cities and that they all work closely together with their clubs and the Bidding Committee. As you know – football is all about partnership.
It was great to see, that all of the clubs are running big social projects, trying to involve as many youngsters from disadvantaged backgrounds as possible. This kind of broad approach of your program “FOOTBALL UNITED” to improve living conditions, to improve social structures – this development is very important to FIFA.
The quality of the pitches in all the stadiums we have been to, was truly world class. So was the line-up of celebrities, we had the chance to meet during the past days – from coaches to former and actual world class players as well as top executive staff. But most impressive was the chance that hundreds of kids were able to play football in top class stadiums during our visit.
From our perspective it was definitely not necessary to attend a Premier League Game to experience the passion and dedication of all those famous members of the UK Football Family. This is for sure one thing, we positively comment on, in our report for the FIFA Executive Committee.
Moreover we were impressed with what kind of facilities and service the Football Academy of Middlesbrough FC offers to their community. The Academy is definitely one of the best of its kind and would be an ideal training site for a team participating at the FIFA World Cup. The concept you are coming up with, that every single participating team would be hosted by a domestic professional team, makes perfect sense to us. It would guarantee that all the teams would be able to practice in perfect conditions.
Concerning public transportation and event facilities there seems to be no problem for hosting an event of such a scope. This also counts for safety and security matters.
One thing FIFA particularly focuses on is accommodation, as we need a very high number of quality rooms. This is why we ask all bidders for a certain number of contracted hotel rooms. We trust that you will be able to fulfill the necessary requirements.
Finally some words for the people behind the bid. They have organized the visit in a perfect way, with great professionalism but also with a great sense of friendship and hospitality.
And of course one of the people behind the bid is the Prime Minister David Cameron and we would like to congratulate him, his wife Samantha and his family on the birth of their new baby girl. FIFA is a family too and we fully understand why he could not be with us.
The Prime Minister took the right decision – family is the most important thing in life, of course more important than football. And that is a lesson for ever.
We can positively sum up, that all the needs and objectives of our visit were met, and we are positive, that a World Cup in England in 2018 or 2022 would be a great experience with a long lasting legacy for the country and its people, as well as for football worldwide.
ANDY ANSON’S SPEECH
Thank you, Harold. I hope you’ve enjoyed your time with us. Everyone working and connected with the England 2018 bid has been truly honoured to host you. In particular our candidate host cities, some of which you have visited, and the football family of England, have all said what a pleasure it has been.
Amongst your hosts have been Fabio Capello, Sir Alex Ferguson, Wayne Rooney, Rio Ferdinand, Michael Owen, Roberto Mancini, Peter Beardsley, Niall Quinn, Steve Gibson and Howard Webb.
Players, managers, coaches, referees, chairmen, owners……..football people.
Everywhere you have gone you have seen football alive and thriving in England. You have seen fans wearing their shirts to work, coaching sessions with participants from our diverse communities, young people enjoying themselves.
Just this week a Premier League study showed that women fans and those from black or minority ethnic groups account for half of all new fans in the last five years English football is more welcoming than ever, a true day out for family and friends. We hope you’ve seen that the entire country would love the honour of hosting the FIFA World Cup.
It’s been a busy, but very rewarding, few days for us. In less than 72 hours, we’ve travelled several hundred kilometers – by helicopter, by tube, car, boat and golf buggy. We toured five of our proposed FIFA World Cup stadiums, and we saw another five from the air.
We hope that your trip from London to the North-East, and then here… to Manchester… demonstrated one of our key advantages. England is easy to get to… and easy to get around.
Our visits to some of England’s stadiums such as Old Trafford, St James’ Park, Stadium of Light, City of Manchester and Wembley also demonstrated something else: That many elements of our proposals are in place and with some small adaptations would be competition ready.
The same can be said for our training sites, the venues for the Preliminary and Final Draw, the Congress, the IBC, the hotels and transport infrastructure. Of course, working with FIFA, we must further improve what we have. Your questions and observations have been hugely helpful in identifying areas where we need to focus…
And rest assured, we will answer every question diligently, respectfully and in full, with a guarantee of delivery. But the one thing I really hope we managed to achieve this week is to convince you that we would be an exceptional partner for FIFA.
Our bid is all about partnership. Between the football family in England, from the Premier League to grassroots football…… with government, as you saw in Downing Street and I know we all want to congratulate the Prime Minister and his wife Samantha on the birth of their new baby girl Florence….and with business, such as our commercial partners, with the Police and transport authorities. You’ve heard how 2 million people have now officially registered to support England 2018 – supporters from 170 countries around the globe.
Throughout what we have called “Back the Bid” week, supporters have been signing up at the rate of at least one a minute What you’ve seen here this week is England United. This partnership approach will extend to FIFA. We’ll make sure that we all become one team, with a common goal: to stage the greatest possible FIFA World Cup in 2018. We believe that of all the advantages we bring to the partnership, the greatest is experience.
Football experience… Hosting experience… And commercial experience.
We hope you were moved by the final session today on England’s track record in football and social development. And how, working with FIFA, we will take those achievements to a whole new level, a new frontier.
How we will guarantee that FIFA, and global football, will see a legacy that lasts for generations and benefits millions of people worldwide – in each of FIFA’s 208 member associations. Everything we have seen this week leads to this focus on a global legacy. It explains why we believe England 2018 will truly be a FIFA World Cup for the world. Four days ago, Geoff Thompson welcomed you. I hope we delivered what he promised… The best of England… …An experience based on the warmth of our welcome, the beauty of our country and our rich football tradition. And I hope that we’ve demonstrated the enormous potential of England 2018.
In less than one hundred days, in Zurich, we will find out if ours is the vision that will be delivered. We look forward to seeing you again then.
Let me finish by thanking you for your attention, your insight, your company and your friendship. We wish you all a safe journey on your travels.