Soccer News & Notes – December 3, 2010

Russian PM Putin begins charm offensive
Friday, December 3, 2010

Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin believes that Russia’s hosting of the 2018 World Cup will help to dispel stereotypes about the country left over from the Cold War.

Putin, who flew to Zurich soon after FIFA voted Russia as World Cup hosts, said; "A lot of stereotypes rooted from the previous times, from the Cold War era, fly all over Europe . and they frighten people. It’s not the time now to describe today’s Russia.It’s developing and by 2018 it will be stronger."

Putin also promised Russia would meet its new stadiums and infrastructure commitments. "You can take my word for it, it will be up to the highest standard," Putin said. "New modern facilities will be built on time and to perfection."

The former KGB chief was expected to lead Russia’s final presentation to FIFA voters, but was represented instead by Deputy Prime Minister Igor Shuvalov.

Source: SoccerExBusiness Daily

Blatter happy to "develop football" with World Cup in Russia and Qatar
Friday, December 3, 2010

FIFA president Sepp Blatter has welcomed the decision of the governing body’s executive committee to award the 2018 and 2022 World Cups to Russia and Qatar respectively.

"Never has the World Cup been in Russia and eastern Europe, and the Middle East and Arabic world have been waiting for a long time, so I’m a happy president when we talk about the development of football," he said.

Russia prime minister Vladimir Putin promised a World Cup of the "highest standards" and claimed he had always been confident despite deciding not to attend his country’s final presentation to the executive committee.

"This decision shows that Russia is trusted," he told reporters before departing to Zurich to meet up with FIFA officials and discuss plans for the tournament.

The Qatari bid chairman, Sheik Mohammed bin Hamad Al-Thani, thanked FIFA and said he hopes the World Cup can change the "wrong perception" that women are oppressed in the Middle East.

"Thank you for believing in change, thank you for believing in expanding the game, thank you for giving Qatar a chance," he said. "We will not let you down. You will be proud of us, you will be proud of the Middle East and I promise you this."

Source: SoccerExBusiness Daily

The FIFA President’s final word on UK media

Friday, December 3, 2010

FIFA President Sepp Blatter has received fresh criticism from the British press for reportedly reminding FIFA Executive Committee members of the "difficulties" FIFA experienced with the UK media just minutes before they voted on the 2018 and 2022 World Cup hosts.

According to the Daily Mail, the FIFA President, who is known to have supported the winning Russian bid, made a passing reference to the British media. ‘We have had difficulties with them,’ he reportedly said. Chuck Blazer, one of the key FIFA voters lobbied by the England bid, was quoted in the newspaper: ‘It didn’t create a positive environment for the England bid," Blazer said.

The UK media investigations into FIFA were also highlighted by leaders of the Portugal/Spain and Russian bids.

Russian Prime minister Valdimir Putin attacked the BBC’s ‘Panorama’ programme, which made serious allegations against Executive Committee members. "What good can you see here when they blame corruption when there is no ground or justification," said Putin. "It was a pressure exercise for the FIFA executive. They put it out around the world. I thought it was unacceptable."

Meanwhile, Spain’s Angel Maria Villar said in the Bid presentation, "I love FIFA dearly but those I love the most are my colleagues in the ExCo. Recently we have been criticised by many media outlets. Unfortunately for them FIFA is a clean institution."

Source: SoccerExBusiness Daily

England and U.S. bids blame politics for defeat
Friday, December 3, 2010

Andy Anson, chief executive of the England bid for the 2018 FIFA World Cup, has admitted he was "let down" by executive committee members who promised to vote for the country.

England, however, had only two votes, one from bid chairman Geoff Thompson.

"I cannot believe what has happened, and I am naturally very, very disappointed. The votes that were promised clearly didn’t materialise. I never imagined we would go out in the first round," said Thompson.

US 2022 bid chief Sunil Gulati claimed the election was decided by "politics, friendships, alliances and tactics" and not on the merits of each candidacy.

On the selection process, he said that it is "obviously not the way certain things are done in the U.S. or in other parts of the world, and it is the way things are done in different parts of the world frankly, and I had some discussions with some of our competitors about that."

With FIFA again deciding to award the World Cup hosting rights to emerging economies after South Africa organising this year’s tournament and Brazil set to stage the event in 2014, Gulati added: "If that’s what’s going to resonate, it would be good if everyone would let us know."

Source: SoccerExBusiness Daily

The U.S. and England are left to pick up the pieces of their shattered World Cup bids after FIFA spurns perhaps the two most highly regarded candidates in favor of new frontiers. USSF President Sunil Gulati can’t hide his disappointment, calling it a "setback for our fans and everyone involved in U.S. Soccer." Where the U.S. went wrong — or if it did at all — is unclear, but FIFA makes a strong statement that there is a "big world out there." After a bidding process shrouded in controversy, the selection of Russia and Qatar is being called FIFA’s "greatest folly." The reaction carries more vitriol in England, with bid leader Andy Anson saying bluntly, "Clearly something is wrong." Looking forward, questions abound for the World Cup’s future. Will Russia be ready? What will Qatar look like in ’22? One thing seems certain: TV rights in the U.S. will be a whole lot lower than if the Cup was landing in England and the States.

FIFA’s Choice Of Russia, Qatar Could Drop U.S. TV Rights Fees

Time Zone Differences Between Qatar, Russia And U.S. Could Impact TV Rights Fee

Whichever U.S. TV network "ends up with the 2022 Qatar World Cup, whose rights will be packaged with the 2018 Russia Cup, saved itself some money Thursday — and lost some future ratings," according to Michael Hiestand of USA TODAY. World Cup games air live, as opposed to some Olympic events, meaning the "time zone differences with Qatar and Russia will presumably offer U.S. viewers a crazy quilt of game times." ESPN/ABC paid $100M for the ’10 South Africa and ’14 Brazil Cups, plus the ’07 and ’11 Women’s World Cups. Fox Soccer Channel GM David Nathanson still believes that the U.S. TV rights for ’18 and ’22 "will increase" from what ESPN paid. But he said they would have been "exponentially" higher had FIFA chosen the U.S., and not Qatar, as host of the ’22 event. Still, ESPN Exec VP/Content John Skipper said, "The World Cup is an ascendant TV property in the U.S. that will become sequentially more valuable, even if it were held in Mars or Pluto" (USA TODAY, 12/3). MULTICHANNEL NEWS’ Mike Reynolds noted USSF President Sunil Gulati during the U.S. Bid Committee’s final presentation to FIFA on Wednesday suggested that U.S. TV rights for the ’18 and ’22 tournaments "could approach an Olympic-like $1 billion." But that projection "was with the U.S. hosting advantage, not from the land of central air-conditioned stadiums." Reynolds: "Even if there is interest from multiple parties, just can’t see the rights escalating to anywhere near that level for FIFA with its new striker tandem of Russia … and Qatar" (MULTICHANNEL.com, 12/2).

EYES OF THE WORLD: Fox Soccer Channel’s Bobby McMahon said FIFA "knows that they’re going to make tons of money through TV rights wherever they go and they pretty much know that somebody is going to pull it off because they’re going to pump money into it" ("Fox Soccer Report," Fox Soccer Channel, 12/2).THE HOLLYWOOD REPORTER’s Scott Roxborough noted Russia and Qatar are "rapidly expanding media markets and close enough to Europe — soccer’s largest market in terms of television audience figures — to ensure strong viewing figures" for the two World Cups (HOLLYWOODREPORTER.com, 12/2).

THREE’S COMPANY: The HOLLYWOOD REPORTER’s Carolyn Giardina reports Sony is "very interested in continuing the efforts it began with 3D production" at the ’10 World Cup in South Africa for the ’18 and ’22 tournaments. Sony, whose World Cup sponsorship runs through ’14, teamed with FIFA and "World Cup production company Host Broadcast Services to produce 25 of the 2010 matches from South Africa in 3D" (HOLLYWOOD REPORTER, 12/3).

Source: www.sportsbusinessdaily.com

U.S. Bid Committee Disappointed, Surprised By FIFA Choosing Qatar

USSF’s Gulati Says FIFA Decision To Award ’22 World Cup To Qatar Is A "Disappointment"

USSF President Sunil Gulati said FIFA’s decision Thursday to award the ’22 World Cup to Qatar and not the U.S. is "a disappointment for me, personally," and "a setback for our fans and everyone involved in U.S. Soccer." Gulati in a conference call Thursday said, "What we had tried to tell (FIFA) was that getting to host the World Cup 12 years from now was the equivalent of putting our foot on the accelerator for soccer in America. It’s an opportunity lost." Gulati said that for the past six months he had predicted a showdown between the two countries for the ’22 spot. Numerous media outlets have hinted that oil money and politics played into the vote, but Gulati abstained from criticizing FIFA. He admitted he wished the bid presentation had included a question and answer period, instead of a straight 30-minute presentation. "It’s politics, it’s friendships, it’s alliances, it’s relationships and it’s tactics," Gulati said. "It’s clear that in the first and second and third rounds there was some tactical voting." As for whether the U.S. would start organizing a bid for the ’26 World Cup, Gulati said he and his fellow committee members — which include former President Bill Clinton and soccer stars Mia Hamm and Landon Donovan — had not had time to discuss plans. "We lost, congratulations to Qatar," Gulati said. "Before we move on toward 2026 we want to sit back, at least until the end of the night until we can think of what to do in the future" (Fred Dreier, SportsBusiness Journal).

A DISAPPOINTING DAY: Gulati after Thursday’s vote said, "Can I sit here today and say these are the seven things we would do different? No. I think we did everything we could." MLS Commissioner Don Garber added, "I’m surprised and most of America is surprised. I’m disappointed. It’s not just soccer fans who took a little shot in the head today. I think it’s our entire country that could have shown the world how passionate we are about the global game. We’ll take a deep breath and go back to . what we do every day, which is building the game. It just might be a little harder now" (ESPN.com, 12/2). Gulati Thursday said that he and the bid committee were "always realistic about the process, and that merit alone wouldn’t necessarily determine a winner." Gulati: "We said all along this isn’t only about the technical report. It’s an election and there are a lot of things that go into that, in this case a new part of the world and a proposal that was pitched as a pan-Middle East proposal and (the World Cup) had never been there. Australia had pitched we’d never been to that continent. … All of those sorts of things come into it" (GOAL.com, 12/2). The AP’s Armour & Blum noted FIFA’s decision "brought an angry response" from Fox Sports Media Group Chair & CEO David Hill, a member of the U.S. bid committee. Hill: "FIFA scored an own goal by not awarding the World Cup to the U.S. Soccer’s growth over the next decade would have been exponential had the 2022 World Cup been awarded to America." (AP, 12/2).

Is Gulati, Pictured Here With Bid Chair Bill Clinton, To Blame For The U.S. Not Winning?

WHO TO BLAME? FOXSPORTS.com’s Ives Galarcep wrote Thursday’s loss for the U.S. bid was "made even tougher to take when considering the day’s big winner, Qatar, was widely-regarded as the shakiest and riskiest of all the bidding nations." Qatar defeated the U.S. by a 14-8 margin in the final round of voting, and "that blowout makes you wonder just how the riskiest of all the bids became such a runaway choice." Galarcep: "Was it a case of Qatar officials beating the Americans at the game of FIFA politics? If so, then U.S. Soccer president Sunil Gulati will have to shoulder his share of the blame for the American bid falling short" (FOXSPORTS.com, 12/2). ESPN.com’s Jeff Carlisle wrote under the header, "Defeat Will Be Gulati’s Legacy." For the U.S., this was "largely a failure of politics and, more specifically, the Americans’ inability to convince a majority of the executive committee that the U.S. bid deserved more consideration than a country with an average July temperature of 95 degrees." It also was a "failure of Gulati himself" (ESPN.com 12/2). The WALL STREET JOURNAL’s Futterman & Clegg note Thursday’s result was a "brutal loss for the U.S. bid leaders, who never realistically thought that FIFA would deliver the tournament to Qatar, a country that presents logistical and health hazards, requires so much investment, and could have trouble attracting foreign travelers" (WALL STREET JOURNAL, 12/3). ESPN’s Josh Elliott said, "In an absolutely gutting move for the United States, thought to be one of the favorites, it will be Qatar hosting in 2022." ESPN’s John Buccigross added, "Shocking upset to many" ("SportsCenter," ESPN, 12/2).

WIDE WORLD OF SPORTS: In N.Y., George Vecsey notes hosting the World Cup is "not a birthright, not a prize for having a lot of hotels near a lot of stadiums." It is a "big world out there." Vecsey: "What the United States needs to do right now, rather than sulk and mutter about being cheated, is continue developing soccer the way it has in the last generation" (N.Y. TIMES, 12/3). ESPN.com’s Cyphers & McIntyre wrote the U.S. "didn’t lose the 2022 World Cup bid because of shenanigans," at least not entirely. FIFA simply "didn’t need the Americans." The U.S. is a "market for the game, growing steadily with each passing quadrennium," so there is "no need to give it another World Cup." Cyphers & McIntyre added, "All those filled stadiums, all those increasing TV ratings, all that corporate money, all that steady growth of MLS? … For FIFA, they were reasons to give 2018 and 2022 to someone else" (ESPNSOCCERNET.com, 12/2). CBSSPORTS.com’s Ray Ratto wrote, "In short, America isn’t a new market for soccer. It has room to grow, but its growth seems more and more to be a function of putting the best games on available TV rather than having the games in house." That is the "message FIFA sent that we should acknowledge." It is "not their job to make MLS more attractive; it’s their job to make America receptive to soccer, and that bit of heavy lifting has been accomplished without much discernible input from its domestic league" (CBSSPORTS.com, 12/2). ESPN.com’s Ravi Ubha: "FIFA made it as clear as the glass walls that comprise its headquarters. It’s out with established soccer nations and bidders that can make the most money and in with developing nations in far corners of the globe" (ESPN.com, 12/2).

Many Feel FIFA Tarnished Its Reputation By Awarding World Cups To Russia, Qatar

A QUESTIONABLE MOVE BY FIFA: YAHOO SPORTS’ Martin Rogers wrote, "In reality, it is perhaps the greatest folly of an organization that is so messed up that it can’t help but tarnish its reputation further with boneheaded decisions made for all the wrong reasons" (SPORTS.YAHOO.com, 12/2). ESPN.com’s Ubha wrote, "In the most bizarre World Cup bidding process ever, it was only fitting that Russia and Qatar landed the rights to host the 2018 and 2022 World Cups, respectively. Indeed, many suggest that FIFA’s decisions lack much logic" (ESPN.com, 12/2). In Boston, Charles Pierce: "It says something about the corrupt old buffet-grazers at FIFA that this particular flea-bitten gas station was chosen to host the 2022 World Cup over the United States" (BOSTON.com, 12/2). A WALL STREET JOURNAL editorial states FIFA "makes the United Nations seem like a model — well, almost — of transparency and good governance." Even the IOC, "no stranger to corruption and foul play, benefits by comparison" (WALL STREET JOURNAL, 12/3). SI.com’s Grant Wahl wrote, "Choosing Qatar and Russia is the biggest indictment possible that FIFA is not a clean organization" (SI.com, 12/2).

TRYING TO MAKE SENSE OF IT ALL: In N.Y., Jere Longman writes FIFA is an "insular body, frequently criticized for its lack of transparency," and Thursday it was "impossible to discern fully the motives" of FIFA President Sepp Blatter and his colleagues. Some soccer officials believe that Blatter is "angling for a Nobel Peace Prize, having now orchestrated the awarding of the World Cup to South Africa in 2010, and soon to Russia and the Middle East, even if his chances of winning such an award might seem remote" (N.Y. TIMES, 12/3). In London, Paul Kelso notes by "choosing two bids with huge infrastructure challenges," FIFA’s Exec Committee has "guaranteed that its next three World Cups, starting in 2014 in Brazil, will be fraught with risk." A senior FIFA official described it as a "Doomsday scenario" for the organization (London TELEGRAPH, 12/3). SI’s Chris Mannix said if Qatar does not "build those facilities in 12 years, this is a PR nightmare for FIFA" ("Jim Rome Is Burning," ESPN, 12/2). In N.Y., Nate Silver wrote FIFA’s selection of Qatar "was astonishing" because of all countries bidding for the ’18 and ’22 World Cups, Qatar was the "only one designated as high-risk by FIFA, which expressed concern about its weather and its logistics." Qatar’s case "would seem to be relatively weak," but "whatever the reasons for it, FIFA’s decision is hard to understand" (NYTIMES.com, 12/2). In London, Jeremy Wilson writes under the header, "Qatar’s Hosting Of The 2022 World Cup Finals Is FIFA’s Most Dangerous Move Yet" (London TELEGRAPH, 12/3).

MONEY TALKS: In London, Duncan White wrote under the header, "Qatar’s World Cup Victory Shows Full Extent Of FIFA’s Greed" (TELEGRAPH.co.uk, 12/2). In Philadelphia, Frank Bertucci writes, "In the end, it was only about the money" (PHILADELPHIA DAILY NEWS, 12/3). In N.Y., Filip Bondy writes this vote, "more than any before, followed the money." Bondy: "This is what Qatar really has to offer: Infinite government funding, plus a friendly TV time zone for the nine Europe-based voting members of the FIFA executive committee" (N.Y. DAILY NEWS, 12/3). In London, Henry Winter writes the "real scandal in FIFA-ville was the decision to award the 2022 tournament to Qatar, a soulless, featureless, air-conditioned, cramped place with so little connection to football it required hired hands like Pep Guardiola" (London TELEGRAPH, 12/3). YAHOO SPORTS’ Rogers wrote, "Qatar’s victory in the race to be awarded the 2022 World Cup was a triumph for spin over substance and leaves a black mark on FIFA’s already-besmirched name" (SPORTS.YAHOO.com, 12/2).

Source: www.sportsbusinessdaily.com

FIFA Venturing Into A New World By Choosing Qatar Over The U.S.

Qatar’s Bid Included Plans For Air-Conditioned Stadiums To Combat High Summer Temperatures

To those close to the World Cup bidding process who "understand FIFA’s complexities and recent mission to forge history," the organization’s decision to award the ’22 tournament to Qatar over the U.S. was "not unforeseen," according to Steven Goff of the WASHINGTON POST. FIFA was "charmed by Qatar’s innovative stadium plans, massive financial resources and the promise of promoting harmony in a region fractured by conflict." To counter the "average summer temperatures of 115 degrees, Qatar has proposed air-conditioning outdoor stadiums and other public areas." The country also would "spend more than $50 billion on infrastructure projects and new stadiums" (WASHINGTON POST, 12/3). In N.Y., Jere Longman notes Qatar’s bid officials promised to "build air-conditioned stadiums, spending $4 billion to upgrade three arenas and build nine new ones in a compact area connected by a subway system." After the ’22 World Cup, Qatar plans to "dismantle its stadiums and give them to poorer countries." The head of Qatar’s bid, Sheik Mohammed bin Hamad al-Thani, also suggested that the World Cup could "help improve the Arab image internationally, while assuaging anti-Islamic feeling that has grown since the 9/11 terrorist attacks" in the U.S. (N.Y. TIMES, 12/3).

A WHOLE NEW WORLD: USA TODAY’s Kelly Whiteside notes FIFA has "placed an emphasis on staging the World Cup" in new lands. This past summer’s World Cup in South Africa was the first on that continent, while FIFA’s Exec Committee on Thursday awarded the ’18 event to Russia, "another first-time host" (USA TODAY, 12/3). In Boston, Frank Dell’Apa writes, "The results could confirm the beginning of the end for the European/South American power axis of FIFA, signaled by the 2012 European Championships being awarded to Poland and Ukraine" (BOSTON GLOBE, 12/3). The GLOBE & MAIL’s Tavia Grant writes the wins for Russia and Qatar "mirror the monumental shift from slow-growth, budget-choked developed economies to fast-growing, often resource-rich nations with deep global ambitions" (GLOBE & MAIL, 12/3). The WALL STREET JOURNAL’s Nando Di Fino wrote, "For all the stress that Russia and Qatar are catching from around the globe, there is something refreshingly exciting about FIFA being creative and giving bids to two unexpected countries that hadn’t hosted the event before" (WSJ.com, 12/2). Fanhouse.com’s Kevin Blackistone: "I think it’s great that it’s going to the Middle East, I think it’s great that these people get to experience the rest of the world" ("Around The Horn," ESPN, 12/2).

WHAT WILL 2022 BE LIKE? In N.Y., George Vecsey writes, "It’s hard to judge what a Qatar World Cup will be like. Will the rich beer sponsors be able to vend and promote their product? Will female journalists and female tourists be able to visit in full equality? Will Qatar upgrade its national team, currently ranked 113th in the world, to avoid embarrassment in 2022?" (N.Y. TIMES, 12/3). In L.A., Grahame Jones notes the questions that arise from FIFA awarding the Cups to Russia and Qatar are "almost unending, but two come to mind right away." Jones: "Will Russia allow the unfettered movement of tens of thousands of foreign fans across its vast landscape? How will Qatar react to the thirsty fans seeking an alcoholic drink or to scantily clad fans seeking a sunbath on the Persian Gulf enclave, where tournament-time temperatures will soar well above 100 degrees?" (L.A. TIMES, 12/3). In London, Patrick Barclay writes, "Please give Qatar a fair chance" (LONDON TIMES, 12/3). Fox Soccer Channel’s Bobby McMahon: "Money and time can solve a ton of problems" ("Fox Soccer Report," Fox Soccer Channel, 12/2).

Source: www.sportsbusinessdaily.com

England Leader Critical Of World Cup Voting Process After Loss

Anson Believes Having Only 22 FIFA Voters Gives Each Member Too Much Influence

England 2018 CEO Andy Anson "has warned his country against bidding for the World Cup again until FIFA reforms its voting process," according to BBC SPORT. After England lost out to Russia for the right to host the ’18 event, Anson said, "I would say right now don’t bother (bidding) unless you know the process is going to change. When there are only 22 guys that gives them too much influence" (BBC SPORT, 12/3). Anson continued, "When you have got the best commercial bid, the best technical bid and the best presentation here in Zurich and you only get two votes then clearly something is wrong." In London, Frank Praverman writes, "The bid team were known to be upset by the timing of BBC’s ‘Panorama’ documentary, which aired on Monday night and accused three FIFA members of accepting bribes and a fourth of trying to profit illegally from the resale of World Cup tickets" (LONDON TIMES, 12/3). WORLD FOOTBALL Insider’s James Corbett noted England’s bid strategy "had been reliant on their support to get past the first round of the vote." But England "fell at the first hurdle after receiving just two votes" (WORLD FOOTBALL INSIDER, 12/3). The GUARDIAN’s Sachin Nakrani provides a timeline of England’s failed bid (GUARDIAN, 12/3).

IS THE SYSTEM BROKEN? A LONDON TIMES editorial states the loss "was a humiliation." The editorial: "FIFA would be making a colossal mistake if it failed to acknowledge that the system of World Cup elections is abysmally corrupt. It is too small, making it easily manipulated, and it is too secret, protecting it from scrutiny." When the "strongest technical bid comes forth, with only 2 votes out of 22, it is time to ask the central question: for whose benefit, and on what grounds, does FIFA make its decisions?" (LONDON TIMES, 12/3). London Mayor Boris Johnson Thursday described FIFA as an "oligarchy" that cannot last "in its current form" (LONDON TIMES, 12/3). In Toronto, Steve Buffery writes, "Clearly there has to be a better way of bidding" (TORONTO SUN, 12/3).

TIME FOR A CHANGE: The FINANCIAL TIMES’ Roger Blitz notes "nursing a humiliating first-round exit," Anson "offered his explanation of where the team went wrong." Anson: "If we want these competitions, we have to integrate ourselves more readily into these organisations. But it’s difficult for us: we’ve got the strongest league in the world, we’re very strong domestically and therefore we’ve not always seen the need to do it" (FINANCIAL TIMES, 12/3). But the BBC’s Alan Shearer, a former England F, said, "I really don’t think we could do any more. It just makes you wonder, if we haven’t got this World Cup then when will we get one?" (MILWAUKEE JOURNAL SENTINEL, 12/3). In London, Henry Winter writes England’s defeat showed the country’s "football lacks leadership within the Football Association." Defeat "will encourage the government to look into the governance of the game, to assess the future of the FA, whose own finances will be harmed by this loss" (London TELEGRAPH, 12/3). ESPNSOCCERNET’s John Brewin wrote, "A lack of leadership is the current leading accusation, and the internecine warfare between such a collection of self-important suits hardly helped, though they will look to blame the media before themselves" (ESPNSOCCERNET.com, 12/2).

DEVASTATING BLOW: In London, Sam Wallace writes, "English football was well and truly shafted … by an organisation that has no interest in being scurtinised by the British media" (London INDEPENDENT, 12/3). In Toronto, Cathal Kelly writes, "As much as this was a victory for Russia, who will now host both the Winter Olympics and the World Cup in a four-year span, it was a humiliating loss for England" (TORONTO STAR, 12/3). The STAR’s Kelly adds, "What FIFA delivered to England on Thursday was not a beating. It was a message sent with the back of a hand. It was meant to humiliate." The "result will drive a defining wedge between the world’s most powerful footballing nation and the Zurich-based body that controls the game" (TORONTO STAR, 12/3).

Source: www.sportsbusinessdaily.com

Russia Faces Challenges As It Prepares To Host ’18 World Cup

Russia Won The ’18 World Cup Despite Putin’s Decision Not To Attend Vote In Zurich

FIFA sent the World Cup "into uncharted territory Thursday, handing the 2018 edition to Russia," in what Prime Minister Vladimir Putin called "a day for rejoicing," according to the MOSCOW TIMES. Russia’s selection "came despite Putin’s decision to skip the final vote in Zurich, but his influence still had an impact on FIFA’s 22 voters as the bid won out over England, Spain-Portugal and Belgium-Netherlands." Often "derided as a conservative organization," the decision was a "big gamble for FIFA, which could have gone for assured sporting and commercial success by handing the event to England." Russia’s bid "includes construction of 13 stadiums and renovation of three more at a projected cost of $3.8 billion and an operating budget of $641 million for 2017-18." Russia pledged to make "major upgrades and capacity increases" at most airports serving the 13 proposed host cities. Transportation logistics, however, "will be a huge challenge with stadiums scattered from St. Petersburg to southern 2014 Olympic winter host Sochi, and from Kaliningrad to Yekaterinburg." Russia "has vowed to waive visas and provide free ground transportation for all World Cup ticket holders" (MOSCOW TIMES, 12/3).

READY FOR THE SPOTLIGHT? The WALL STREET JOURNAL’s Boudreaux & White wrote, "Russia’s selection to host the 2018 World Cup soccer championship gave Prime Minister Vladimir Putin a triumph on the international stage and a big to-do list at home." Russia is "so ill-prepared for a World Cup now that it had to base its bid on computer graphics and blueprints to give the FIFA panel an idea what stadiums and transport infrastructure might look like by 2018." Just "one of Russia’s stadiums, Luzhniki in Moscow, meets FIFA’s World Cup requirements" (WSJ.com, 12/2). The GLOBE & MAIL’s Paul Attfield writes, "Transportation will be one of Russia’s biggest hurdles." With "roughly 3,000 kilometres between Kaliningrad and Yekaterinburg, the two most extreme of the 13 host cities, travel is one of its chief concerns and one highlighted by FIFA in its initial evaluation of the bid." With the country already spending $20B a year on "upgrading its transportation infrastructure, FIFA warned that Russia had best start the overhaul now to be ready on time, along with its $4-billion construction program to build 13 new stadiums and refurbish three existing ones" (GLOBE & MAIL, 12/3).

Source: www.sportsbusinessdaily.com

Soccer United Marketing Renews Makita, NAPA, Continental Tire
By Fred Dreier, Staff Writer, SportsBusiness Journal

Soccer United Marketing, the marketing arm of MLS, has renewed corporate partnerships with power tool manufacturer Makita USA, auto parts dealer NAPA Auto Parts and Continental Tire. Makita, a SUM partner since ’03, has renewed a multiyear partnership for MLS and the Mexican national team. NAPA will continue its multiyear sponsorship of the Mexican national team. Continental, a longtime FIFA partner that entered the U.S. market last year, has agreed to a multiyear extension with MLS that includes the Canadian market.

Source: www.sportsbusinessdaily.com

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