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England and the United States might be the favourites to host the 2018 and 2022 World Cups, but both countries have hosted a World Cup before: a fact Russia are counting on as crucial in their own bids. “Every tournament should be held in a country that has not previously hosted it,” said sports minister Vitaly Mutko. “Our bid is unique … and (winning) will enable our cities to take on a completely different appearance.”
I particularly like the fact that they are touting their ability to host the World Cup because they “hosted a lavish Eurovision Song Contest” this year. “Tell me, who conducts such events better than Russia?” Mutko said. Let’s hope the World Cup in 2022 has a pre-game show like this winning song from the contest in Moscow:
In all seriousness, though, Russia looks likely to put together a very competitive bid. Its biggest challenge is infrastructure, with the construction of five new stadiums and considerable refurbishment of ten others necessary, an issue not facing England or the U.S. Beyond that, the 14 host cities scattered across the vast country require a massive investment in transport links, including the building of new international airports. It would be a much riskier prospect for FIFA than even South Africa was, without the prestige of taking the World Cup to a new continent.
- For perhaps the first time (Italian football fans, please inform me), supporters of an Italian club are trying to buy their team — AS Roma fans are putting together a supporters’ trust to try to purchase the club. Best of luck to them.
- Apropos of apparently nothing, Tony Cascarino brings up the old chestnut of Rangers and Celtic joining the English Premier League, and suggests they should simply be parachuted in there without having to work their way up through the league. Which of course, would make a complete mockery of the entire pyramid structure essential to English football.
- Gambling on football in England continues to be a problem, and the Football Assocation’s chairman Lord Triesman has sensibly called for a complete ban on betting on the game by any player, manager or official — currently, there is only a ban on betting on a game one is involved in.
- I hope many of you have been following Pitch Invasion contributor Richard Whittall’s series on what MLS means to fans. It’s been a random patchwork of commentary, but well worth reading, perhaps for that reason: the direction of the league and its clubs remains a serious work-in-progress, but there is a reason why we bother. Richard will be sweeping up for you over the weekend — see you on Monday.
The Sweeper appears daily. For more rambling and links throughout the day every day, follow your editor Tom Dunmore @pitchinvasion on Twitter.