If the media rage is to be believed today, our hopes of rebuilding the economy (and possibly win a football tournament) are up in smoke thanks to FIFA’s decision to award the 2018 World Cup to Russia.
There’s no doubt that hosting the tournament would have delivered a huge economic boost to England and the South West, where Bristol and Plymouth were candidate host cities.
Regional media in both cities dutifully voiced civic leaders’ disappointment at the result, whose hopes for a share of the spoils from the world’s biggest spectator event were dashed.
The cost to Bristol (which does not yet have a stadium that is fit for purpose for such an event and faces a huge battle to deliver one) is estimated to be £150m in lost income. That doesn’t account for the £400,000 the city council spent on supporting the bid, which became the subject of regional news reports today.
Recognising the economic potential of the 2018 event, the HCA has directly supported the bid through its work in Milton Keynes, which was also a candidate host city.
Yes, it’s hugely disappointing not to have won the bid. But, as some outside the media have rightly said, it’s hardly the end of the world.
If there is a positive that can be drawn from this story, it is the demonstration that football clubs and local and national Government can work together for the common good. These partnerships could be built on, which could provide a real ‘win win’ scenario for all involved.
Local leaders recognised this, stating that the job of regenerating local communities goes on regardless. This remains the focus of their work, and would have been even if we had won the bid to host the 2018 tournament. This point was well made at the press conference by bid leaders in Plymouth after the result yesterday, a video of which is below.
That FIFA could be more transparent and open is hardly ‘news’, and would not have merited a footnote in many reports if England’s bid had triumphed. To drag the issue over the coals now reeks of sour grapes: there are more important things in life to worry about.
As a football fan, my biggest disappointment is that I will not be taking my kids to a game in Bristol in 2018. That would be a wonderful event to share, even if it may not have resulted in us watching a top team play in the city. Looking on the bright side, if England hosts the 2030 World Cup (which, amazingly, is the next possible tournament they could bid for) maybe the kids could take me.