Pete Jenson: Spanish even struggle to get their party started
Friday 09 October 2009
Jsck Warner's suggestion that England's World Cup bid was lagging far behind its rivals, such as Spain and Portugal, came as a surprise to many – especially the Spanish themselves.
This week Spain's FA confirmed its intention to join the race for the 2018 finals, probably as part of a joint bid with Portugal, but it was just about all it could manage to remember when its own birthday was.
The good and the great from the country's football past gathered at the federation's headquarters on Tuesday in Madrid with the current players from the European Championship winning team to celebrate the federation's centenary but it was later remembered, by various commentators, notably sports paper Marca, that the FA had in fact celebrated it's 75th anniversary... 21 years ago!
So was it founded in 1909 or 1913? The country's president Jose Luis Zapatero is none the wiser after being handed a Spain replica shirt at the event with the date 1913 above the crest. Zapatero was at the event to add his weight to a Fifa education initiative, celebrate the 100 years (or should that be 96?) and endorse Spain's bid.
He will be there again in December when Spain makes an official presentation. The country is still hurting from missing out on the Olympics and is wary that any joint bid with Portugal is likely to be frowned upon by Sepp Blatter who has already indicated that he wants a single nation.
Spain decided to go it alone when bidding for Euro 2004 only to see Fifa give Portugal, who they had rejected as running mates because they thought they didn't need them, the tournament.
Their problem is that without Porto's Estadio do Dragao, Benfica's Estadio da Luz and Sporting Lisbon's Jose Alvalade ground they might struggle to meet Fifa's demands for twelve 40,000 capacity all-seater venues. The country is hoping that Blatter's reservations about awarding the tournament to two countries will be eased by a high speed rail link joining Madrid with Lisbon.
Spain will also have few problems when it comes to finding the right personalities to front its campaign. The smiling faces of the players who won the European Championship last year, many of whom also won the treble with Barcelona, will be something England, Russia and the US will struggle to beat.
It just needs the Spanish FA to work out what day it is.
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