Hugh Robertson: A 'perfect' bid and a force for global good

With weeks to convince Fifa that England should host the 2018 football tournament, the Government is throwing everyone forward

Share
Related Topics

The race to host the 2018 World Cup continues apace as the 2 December decision day gets ever closer.

On Wednesday, football's world governing body Fifa will publish the technical reports following the inspection visits of bidding countries earlier this year.

These reports will show the inspection team's views on many aspects of the bids. They will demonstrate the vast amounts of work that bidding nations have put in to show Fifa why they should be selected, and the positive attributes of the respective bids.

It is these attributes that we hope Fifa executive committee (ExCo) members will focus on when they come to voting next month.

England's bid is an excellent one, and the Government is determined to do all we can to help bring the World Cup to this country. We would put on a fantastic festival of football with fans from around the world welcomed with open arms by our diverse communities. We have the stadiums in place, and our passion for football would mean an electrifying atmosphere, with capacity crowds at every match.

England is a country that is easy to get to and get around. We already have the infrastructure in place to transport hundreds of thousands of fans to matches every weekend in the season. There are also plans to make all local public transport free for ticketed supporters at a World Cup hosted in England. We also have a wealth of experience in putting on major sporting events and it is experience we are going to have more of following the 2012 Olympic Games.

These are arguments that Fifa noted when the Deputy Prime Minister, Nick Clegg, the Secretary of State for Culture, Jeremy Hunt, and I met the inspection team in August, and when Fifa's president, Sepp Blatter, met the Prime Minister, David Cameron, Jeremy and me at No 10 last month.

The inspection team said, before departing our shores, that many aspects of our bid were "perfect", and Blatter also acknowledged that a World Cup would be a success if England were selected as the host nation.

A World Cup here would be a winner economically – both for Fifa and the country. A PricewaterhouseCoopers estimate for the 2018 bid company put the economic benefits to the country of hosting a World Cup at around £3bn.

The commercial certainty for Fifa would also mean the realisation of a genuine global legacy for football. This legacy plan is at the heart of England's 2018 bid. Football United, a new global football fund, would be hugely boosted by hosting a World Cup in England.

Already, our football authorities such as the FA, Premier League and the Football Foundation run football outreach, social and health programmes, not only in this county but around the world, but Football United would help us to deliver such programmes on a worldwide scale never seen before.

It is this potential for using football as a force for good globally that is being presented to the 24 Fifa ExCo members. It may be a cliché, but it is true. Football is the international language. It binds people together across the continents. Go to any far-flung corner of the planet and they know all about David Beckham. Youngsters worldwide can reel off Premier League player names: they're all out there, kicking a ball around, emulating their heroes at Manchester United, Arsenal, Liverpool and Chelsea.

At Downing Street, Sepp Blatter got a taste of Football United when he saw a moving film that shows how this fund will directly benefit the countries and regions that the ExCo members represent. It will be used to change the lives of young people through football. That is a powerful message that we hope Fifa voters take notice of.

Much has been written about the state of the England bid in recent weeks. But the fact is we are still in the race. After all, there is still three weeks to go and a lot can happen in that time.

Speculation has been rife about who is the favourite but it is genuinely too difficult to call. The time when you want to be the favourite, though, is on voting day. Let us not forget that 2012 Olympics decision in Singapore in 2005. Many were unconvinced that London was going to win, but win it we did. Let's hope that history repeats itself on 2 December.

The Government's support is unwavering for England's 2018 bid. Within his first two days in office, the Prime Minister spoke to Sepp Blatter to underline that support, and while at the G20 in Seoul last week, he made time to meet Fifa vice-president Chung Mong-joon, to echo that message once more.

The Prime Minister, Jeremy Hunt and I will be out in Zurich for the final round of lobbying ahead of the decision, to press England's case and we will be completely focused on pushing the positive attributes of our bid.

The competition undoubtedly is going to be tough. But now is the time that we want the whole country to get behind England's bid and show Fifa what putting on the biggest football show on earth would mean not only to us, but as a benefit in the lives of people all over the world.

Hugh Robertson is Minister for Sport and the Olympics

React Now

Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

SAP Project Manager

competitive: Progressive Recruitment: SAP PROJECT MANAGER - 3 MONTHS - BERKSHI...

SAP Project Manager

competitive: Progressive Recruitment: SAP PROJECT MANAGER - 3 MONTHS - BERKSHI...

Senior Investment Accounting Change Manager

£600 - £700 per day + competitive: Orgtel: Senior Investment Accounting Change...

Microsoft Dynamics AX Functional Consultant

£65000 - £75000 per annum + benefits: Progressive Recruitment: A rare opportun...

Day In a Page

Read Next
Children of a bygone era  

Kids these days aren't what they used to be — they're a lot better. So why the fuss?

Archie Bland
A suited man eyes up the moral calibre of a burlesque troupe  

Be they burlesque dancers or arms dealers, a bank has no business judging the morality of its clients

John Walsh
Save the tiger: The day America’s love of backyard tigers led to a horrific bloodbath

The day America’s love of backyard tigers led to a horrific bloodbath

With only six per cent of the US population of these amazing big cats held in zoos, the Zanesville incident in 2011 was inevitable
Samuel Beckett's biographer reveals secrets of the writer's time as a French Resistance spy

How Samuel Beckett became a French Resistance spy

As this year's Samuel Beckett festival opens in Enniskillen, James Knowlson, recalls how the Irish writer risked his life for liberty and narrowly escaped capture by the Gestapo
We will remember them: relatives still honour those who fought in the Great War

We will remember them

Relatives still honour those who fought in the Great War
Star Wars Episode VII is being shot on film - and now Kodak is launching a last-ditch bid to keep celluloid alive

Kodak's last-ditch bid to keep celluloid alive

Director J J Abrams and a few digital refuseniks shoot movies on film. Simon Usborne wonders what the fuss is about
Once stilted and melodramatic, Hollywood is giving acting in video games a makeover

Acting in video games gets a makeover

David Crookes meets two of the genre's most popular voices
Could our smartphones soon be diagnosing diseases via Health Kit and Google Fit?

Could smartphones soon be diagnosing diseases?

Health Kit and Google Fit have been described as "the beginning of a health revolution"
Ryanair has turned on the 'charm offensive' but can we learn to love the cut-price carrier again?

Can we learn to love Ryanair again?

Four recent travellers give their verdicts on the carrier's improved customer service
Billionaire founder of Spanx launches range of jeans that offers

Spanx launches range of jeans

The jeans come in two styles, multiple cuts and three washes and will go on sale in the UK in October
10 best over-ear headphones

Aural pleasure: 10 best over-ear headphones

Listen to your favourite tracks with this selection, offering everything from lambskin earmuffs to stainless steel
Commonwealth Games 2014: David Millar ready to serve up gold for his beloved Scotland in the end

Commonwealth Games

David Millar ready to serve up gold for his beloved Scotland in the end
UCI Mountain Bike World Cup 2014: Downhill all the way to the top for the Atherton siblings

UCI Mountain Bike World Cup

Downhill all the way to the top for the Atherton siblings
Save the tiger: The animals bred for bones on China’s tiger farms

The animals bred for bones on China’s tiger farms

The big cats kept in captivity to perform for paying audiences and then, when dead, their bodies used to fortify wine
A former custard factory, a Midlands bog and a Leeds cemetery all included in top 50 hidden spots in the UK

A former custard factory, a Midlands bog and a Leeds cemetery

Introducing the top 50 hidden spots in Britain
Ebola epidemic: Plagued by fear

Ebola epidemic: Plagued by fear

How a disease that has claimed fewer than 2,000 victims in its history has earned a place in the darkest corner of the public's imagination
Chris Pratt: From 'Parks and Recreation' to 'Guardians of the Galaxy'

From 'Parks and Recreation' to 'Guardians of the Galaxy'

He was homeless in Hawaii when he got his big break. Now the comic actor Chris Pratt is Hollywood's new favourite action star