Belfast Telegraph

World Cup 2018: England bid had no global value, say US

FIFA's American member Chuck Blazer has said he voted for Russia over England for the 2018 World Cup because it will open up new markets for football.

Blazer said England would have staged a “great World Cup” but that it would have contributed little to the game's development globally. He also insisted that he believes the 2018 decision had been a fair vote.

He said: “I went to visit Russia and England and Holland/Belgium to look at their bids and they all behaved perfectly correctly. Nothing has changed since then.”

His final decision came down to the legacy of the World Cup — and he was influenced by the tournament's success in South Africa earlier this year.

“I voted for Russia,” Blazer said. “England clearly had a great bid. But in the end, I look at England and say, ‘What more would we have when we're finished other than what I am certain would have been a great World Cup?’

“I believe that when we're finished in Russia, we'll have accomplished a lot of different things.

“We can open up a market that is important from a world perspective. Everyone came away saying, ‘Wow, what a great World Cup in South Africa.’ It was a hard process to get there, but nonetheless the event was very, very successful from a TV, marketing, worldwide perspective.

“And having done it there, it gave reason for everyone in the world to say, ‘We can do it here.’ No longer was it reserved for only for the big countries in Europe and the Americas.”

He added: “If you look you at the votes — one for Australia, two for England, three for the USA in the first round, a total of six votes out of a potential of 44 votes — there didn't seem much of a taste for these places.”

The irony for Blazer was the same argument that did for England may have lost the USA's bid for 2022 to Qatar — but he continues to insist the Middle Eastern state will struggle to deal with the problem of 50 degree C temperatures in June and July.

“I still feel heat is an obstacle that they won't overcome in the time frame in which we hope it will,” he added. “Who knows? By then, we may be going around with air-conditioned suits.”

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