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Sports in the Spotlight

30th November 2010

The World Cup 2018 bid team are heading out to Switzerland today and speakers including Lord Coe, Gary Linker, Alan Shearer, Sir Bobby Charlton, David Beckham and Prince William will be keeping everything crossed in the hope that England wins through on Thursday – when the results of the final vote will be announced in Zurich. 

England Chief Executive Andy Anson has spoken of the team’s ongoing commitment, "We will be campaigning and working right up to the very last minute and the strength and support we have within this travelling party gives us the best possible chance to deliver our message, strongly and passionately for one final time."  Spain and Portugal, Belgium and the Netherlands, and current favourite Russia are also in the running on a day after the BBC Panorama documentary detailing the alleged corruption of FIFA executives was aired... Opinions abound as to whether this was the right or wrong time for the documentary to go out and no doubt the final conclusions will rest on the outcome of the vote.  If England win the bid everything will surely be forgotten, but if Russia wins, several commentators will blame – at least in part – the Panorama documentary.

It will be interesting to see which way the final vote goes on Thursday.  Part of FIFA’s decision is based on choosing a nation which will significantly benefit from hosting the tournament and it has been argued that other nations need a boost more than the UK.  Professor Szymanski of Cass Business School has argued that Britain’s bid has been based on the notion that the UK already has everything in place due to the number of stadia and facilities we already have, “The way we have sold a World Cup to FIFA is to say that it is a safe bet…We have the facilities already but that’s not actually what FIFA wants.”  Despite estimates from the Department of Culture, Media and Sport that a tournament would provide a £3bn boost, Professor Szymanski – who specializes in the impact of sport on the economy – believes that the actual effect would be “negligible”, certainly in comparison to the impact on a country such as Russia.  Certain new stadia would need to be built – for example in Bristol and potential redevelopments at Anfield if this were even deemed necessary – resulting in inward investment, but most other stadia are already set up and ready to go.

On the one hand the UK has some incredible stadia and on the other hand facilities for sports such as the bob skeleton are desperately in need of extra funding.  Gold-medal winning champion Amy Williams has just been named as one of the contenders for Sports Personality of the Year 2010 and she managed to succeed without even having a full track to practice on in her home country! 

A BBC programme will air on Monday 13th December revealing the list of contenders for the award including Amy, Tom Daley, David Haye, Lee Westwood and Jessica Ennis ‘Team of the Year’ and ‘Coach of the Year’ will also be selected.  The live vote for the final prize will take place on Sunday 19th December so keep your phones at the ready!


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