England bid to host the 2018 World Cup and had what many believe to be the best bid, but FIFA decided instead to award the tournament to oil-rich Russia, a decision it probably now regrets, with some teams, including England, planning on boycotting the tournament...
GEORGE COHEN I think it’s all over for the World Cup in Russia after spy attack — so let England host it instead
To host the World Cup is one of the greatest honours that can be bestowed upon a nation, but after launching an attack on British soil, Russia should be denied the privilege
By George Cohen, 1966 World Cup hero
15th March 2018
TO host the World Cup is one of the greatest honours that can be bestowed upon a nation – and one you have to live up to.
England did that when the Jules Rimet trophy was hoisted aloft by Bobby Moore at Wembley Stadium in 1966.
World Champions . . . George Cohen, on the far left, looks on as captain Bobby Moore kisses the Jules Rimet Trophy in 1966
Most of the country went mad for the World Cup that wonderful summer, and it showed off everything that was great about Britain.
When the world came here to play football, no one could doubt it was the beautiful game.
But there will be nothing beautiful about this summer’s tournament in Russia.
Any other country would welcome the international community in a spirit of sporting togetherness.
In the wake of the poison attack, Russia should be denied the honour of hosting the World Cup
Instead, we have this absurd situation where they seem to have launched an aggressive attack on foreign soil just a few months before this great sporting event is due to begin.
There seems to be little doubt that Russia is responsible for poisoning one of its former spies, Sergei Skripal, and his daughter.
Many people are asking whether the Football Association should pull Gareth Southgate’s side out of the tournament they have qualified for, with relations between our two countries so strained.
But I think it would be wrong to punish England fans with such a unilateral action.
Why not make the case for the tournament to be hosted in England?
Instead, we need to consider taking the World Cup off Russia. And who better to host it instead than England?
Before Russia won the right to host the tournament, in very suspicious circumstances, we made a very convincing alternative bid — so we already have the plans ready to go.
Now is the time to put them into action.
This attack in Salisbury, Wilts, with a Russian chemical weapon is a hostile escalation which we cannot ignore.
There will now be many fans who simply don’t want to risk flying to Russia.
I feel the same. The Russian FA invited me to go to the World Cup — but there is no way I would go now.
Even the Foreign Office has warned about travelling there because of anti-British sentiment or harassment.
What Russian thugs did to both English and other fans during Euro 2016 in France was terrible enough.
They were organised “ultras” whose sole aim was to start riots and cause grievous injury. It was fortunate no English fan died.
What Russian thugs did to both English and other fans during Euro 2016 in France was terrible enough
Igor Lebedev, a member of the Russian Football Union, told these hooligans to “keep it up” and President Vladimir Putin joked about it.
Those don’t sound like the words of leaders who genuinely care about fan safety.
There are many question marks about Fifa’s decision to hand the tournament to Russia in the first place.
For a long time, black players have experienced racism over there, with Russia’s *governing body doing little to counteract it.
The most recent example was England’s Under-17 World Cup-winning striker Rhian Brewster, who experienced racial abuse during a Liverpool game against Spartak Moscow last year.
Then we have the former Fifa president Sepp Blatter saying they had decided to award the tournament to Russia before there was even a vote.
Former Fifa president Sepp Blatter said they had decided to award the tournament to Russia before there was even a vote
We should have had an open and democratic process.
Would we want the World Cup to be tarnished in the same way the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi were?
It was there that Russian officials used their position as hosts to secretly swap drug-testing samples so their cheating athletes were not caught.
I appreciate Fifa would have misgivings about taking this honour from Putin, due to the financial and legal implications. But it should be considered right now.
If such a bold idea is to be attempted they would need to get on with it quickly.The country most prepared to stage an international event of this calibre is us. We are ready. We have the best stadiums in the world, incredible infrastructure, history and the can-do attitude to make something big happen.
Britain is not alone in feeling anxious about the World Cup being used as a PR exercise for Putin.
Some members of the Germany side — the reigning champions — told Bild newspaper they were in an awkward position because of Russia’s bombing of women and children in Syria.
Soviet linesman Tofiq Bahramov made the right call when he declared our third goal scored by Geoff Hurst in the 1966 World Cup Final had crossed the line
We have also heard positive words from our allies in Nato and Europe about standing alongside the British Government. It would be a real boost to Britain if the World Cup came here.
Russia is a great nation with so much going for it, and the World Cup was an opportunity for them to show a positive face.
Instead they seem to be deliberately stirring up trouble ahead of this iconic event.
Why should our fans face trouble over there, when they can feel secure here?
And I say that as an admirer of a certain Soviet linesman, Tofiq Bahramov of Azerbaijan, who made the right call when he declared our third goal scored by Geoff Hurst in 1966 had crossed the line.