Soccer News & Notes, December 2, 2010

FIFA SET TO VOTE ON, ANNOUNCE HOST COUNTRIES FOR ’18 AND ’22 WORLD CUPS

FIFA’s Sepp Blatter Slated To Announce ’18 and ’22 World Cup Hosts This Morning

FIFA today will announce the host nations for the ’18 and ’22 World Cups. Procedures in Zurich began with presentations by the ’18 bid countries: Belgium/Netherlands, Spain/Portugal, England and then Russia. FIFA’s Exec Committee then goes "behind closed doors to commence secret balloting"
(WASHINGTONPOST.com, 12/2). The announcement, scheduled for 10:00am ET, will air live in the U.S. on Fox Soccer Channel, ESPN, ESPN Deportes, CNN Int’l and Univision (Mult., 12/2).

WSJ.com has been offering continuing updates on this morning’s presentations. Belgium/Netherlands led off "with a message that small is beautiful." The Iberian bid "directly confronted the allegations that they had illegally colluded with Qatar in the months leading up to today’s vote." England’s bid group "chose to focus on the transformational power of the beautiful game." Russia’s bid urged FIFA to "bring the World Cup to eastern Europe for the first time."

Prince William today led the England presentation by telling FIFA members, " I love football, we English love football and it would be an honour for us to host" (UKPA, 12/2). Senior members of England’s group "expressed hopes that a successful bid would also provide the impetus to correct some of the game’s perennial problems" (GUARDIAN, 12/2). Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin appeared on CNN’s "Larry King Live" via satellite last night and said through an interpreter, "We are a very natural contender. Our problem is, however, about the fact that as of late during this competition race, I’m sure the FIFA members have been slandered absolutely groundlessly" (CNN, 12/1).

The U.S. gave its bid presentation yesterday along with the other bidders for ’22. The WALL STREET JOURNAL’s Matthew Futterman writes if the U.S. loses, that means "the rest of the world no longer considers the U.S. to be an attractive destination for prestigious global sporting events." It would also be a "rebuke to the U.S. bid committee’s message," which stresses "huge media, sponsorship and ticket revenue" (WALL STREET JOURNAL, 12/2). Meanwhile, USSF President Sunil Gulati has "done more to spearhead the U.S.’s drive for World Cup ’22 than anyone else" (SI.com, 12/1).

One of the most talked-about aspects of yesterday’s presentations was Japan’s emphasis on new technology, with Sony Chair, CEO & President Sir Howard Stringer saying, "We promised to transform 400 stadiums into a live virtual game. It would be a live virtual feed with holograms on the field. . It’s quite a high-tech approach with a lot of interlocking technologies" (WSJ.com, 12/2).

Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin refuses to attend World Cup election
Submitted by bernardopd on Thu, 02/12/2010

Russia prime minister Vladimir Putin has decided not to travel to Zurich for today’s election of the 2018 and 2022 FIFA World Cup host nations, casting uncertainty over his country’s chances.

Putin blamed "unscrupulous" behaviour by rival 2018 bidders in an apparent reference to corruption allegations made by the BBC’s Panorama documentary against some of the voters.
"They are being smeared. There is an attempt to discredit them. This seems to constitute unfair competition," he said, regardless of the efforts made by the England bid to distance itself from the programme.

The prime minister added he decided not to attend the ceremony because he wants FIFA executive committee members "to be able to make the decision objectively without any pressure from the outside. Incidentally, I am calling on my foreign counterparts to do the same."

Putin was also the centre of yesterday’s revelations by the diplomatic cables released by the website WikiLeaks, which depict Russia as a "virtual mafia state" and claim the prime minister was likely to have known about the murder of Russian dissident Alexander Litvinenko in London.

England and Qatar are odds-on favourites
Thursday, December 2, 2010
England and Qatar are the bookmaker’s favourites to win the right to host the 2018 and 2022 World Cups respectively.

According to established UK bookmaker William Hill, England have moved from third favourites for the 2018 tournament 48 hours ago to odds-on favourite this morning at 8/11 ahead of Russia (15/8), Spain/Portugal (9/2) and Belgium/Holland (40/1).

The biggest mover overnight for the 2022 edition was the United States, which moved up to joint-second position with Australia at 5/2 thanks to a persuasive speech to the FIFA Executive Committee by former US president Bill Clinton.

Qatar, however, remains favourite at the unmoved price of 4/6, with Japan (33/1) and Korea (40/1) bringing up the rear.

Qatar shares rise on World Cup optimism
Thursday, December 2, 2010

Shares in Qatar Stock Market listed companies have risen this week based on optimism that the Gulf country will be awarded the right to host the 2022 World Cup.

As reported by Bloomberg,com, a number of major companies stand to gain from Qatar hosting the tournament, which will be part of a $50 billion infrastructure allocation made by the state of Qatar in the coming years, the Qatar bid team has said.

"If Qatar wins, it would have a massive impact on the country’s infrastructure and economy as it would improve liquidity and affect companies in the real estate, communications and logistics sectors," a Doha-based equity brokerage manager told Bloomberg. "Investors have eagerly been waiting for the moment the winners of the bid are announced."

The bid has also claimed that a Qatar-hosted World Cup would add around $14 billion to the region’s football market.

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