What London Has To Offer (Arsenal)
From Vital England:
London is one of 16 cities currently vying to be one of the final 12 selected as host cities for England's world cup bid, but what does it have to offer?
We find out, as we ask Tim Stillman what they think it can bring to the table for the world cup bid...
1) London has applied to be a host city, what are the pros of this?
Obviously, from a purely footballing point of view, hosting a World Cup would be excellent. We all saw the knock on effects of Euro 96, which put the game on another stratosphere in England and bought a lot of new people to the game. Euro 96 also did a lot to drown out some of the undesirable stigmas of being an England fan due to the sort of people that were following them in the 1980s. Football has a wonderful way of being a cultural adhesive that brings us all together regardless of political implications. I've never been to an international tournament before (international football doesn't really get my juices going) but I've been to cities to see European finals and there is little better than seeing a whole city turned into a cultural carnival of football. There would of course be economic benefits to the country with the tourism it would bring- both before, during and after the event- but I am sceptical as to how a Tory or a Labour government would handle those benefits.
2) And the cons?
A massive con (pun only half intended) would be the expenditure required to host such an event. Living in London, most people around here are scathing of the Olympics as they see it as a political backscratcher funded out of our tax money- particularly as we were not asked if we would like the Olympics here. There are of course issues for people that live in the hosting cities due to the extra noise and pollution and likelihood of escalating costs of living in their respective areas when something as prestigious as a World Cup comes to town. I am also highly dubious as to the competence of the F.A. to provide the correct organisation for such a massive administrative task. I think the Football Association is one of the most lazy, self serving political structures on earth. And that is really saying something. I'm not sure they have the appropriate work ethic to get it right. I visited Athens shortly after they held the 2004 Olympics and the Olympic site had already become run down and the area effected adversely. I have a friend who visits Montreal regularly who says the city was economically devastated by hosting the event. So it is crucial that if England gets the World Cup, that it is run and planned precisely, as it was in Germany in 2006. I rather doubt that capability of a Tory or Labour Government, or indeed the F.A. to do that.
3) Is Ashburton Grove up to the task of staging a world cup game at the moment - if not will it come 2018/2022?
Ashburton Grove is a venue that is befitting of a World Cup or a game of any stature. I would imagine that, with grounds as they currently are in England, Ashburton and Old Trafford would be the Semi Final venues. Of course, by 2018, the stadium will not hold the same super modern allure it does now, but the ground, its facilities, its aesthetics and its capacity are more than capable. There are plenty of corporate facilities, which we all know is the most important thing in FIFA's eyes. The only reason UEFA will not allow it to host a Champions League Final is that there is insufficient parking for their sodding limos! From a purely fan driven perspective, I can't imagine parking would be much of an issue for fans coming in from Portugal and Australia!
4) What is London most famous for?
Crap public transport! You know, that's actually a very difficult question. I was born in London and have lived here for all but three years of my life, and it's easy to become insular and not recognise how we are viewed by the rest of the world. I perceive London's people to be quite cold and rude nowadays, but when you speak to non natives, we are viewed as unfalteringly polite. I think London to be a very vibrant and cosmopolitan city, accepting of all people, wonderfully diverse. (Though if Boris is reading, please, please, please can we have a 24 hour tube service Friday and Saturday nights, it's the 21st Century now, this is embarrassing!) To borrow an old Arsenal strap line, London is probably famous for "Tradition With Vision." A city that recognises its culture and heritage, but still very forward thinking. (Apart from the fact that the tubes stop at midnight on Friday nights Boris!)
5) What would it mean to you to see the world cup converge on London if successful?
To me personally? Not a great deal if I'm honest. It would be nice to see the city get football fever for a month and I might even stand a snowball in hell's chance of getting along to see a Group game of some kind. But international football is something of an irrelevance to me, it's methadone as far as I'm concerned. I'm a committed football fan, I think seeing a World Cup in your own city would be more captivating for the casual fan- though I could be wrong. If I was confident that it could be run and organised effectively and efficiently I would be more enthused. But then again, I'm British, I was born cynical.
6) Come on, hand on heart, tinted specs off, totally unbiased view will London be successful with the host city bid?
No, I don't think so. If it were down to football reasons, London and England would win hands down. We have the stadia, the support and the ambassadorial acumen. But these things are 100% political, it'll take more than a few Gucci handbags to win the authorities over. I'm no Little Englander- not by a long shot. But I genuinely believe FIFA and UEFA are uncomfortable with the power of the Premiership at the moment and I think they would try to neutralise any move to make it even more popular. Plus, there are tax implications of holding it in England, competitors have to pay a greater tax levy whilst they are over here than in other countries and I see that being a preventative issue.
7) Most importantly, do you think that England will be successful with the 2018/2022 world cup bid anyway?
See above, question 6.
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