By Claire West
With one hundred days to go until FIFA makes its decision, the Mayor of London Boris Johnson will be showcasing why London is the jewel in the crown of England’s 2018 bid, as he joins FIFA’s inspectors at the beginning of a four day tour of candidate host cities.
London is home to some of the world’s best football stadiums and if England’s bid is successful, the capital will host not only the opening and closing games but potentially a quarter of the total games played during the tournament. With no other venue more than three hours from London by train, the capital will also be the main base for many officials, players and supporters, bringing an estimated £1bn economic benefit into the region in 2018 alone.
England’s 2018 bid commitment to produce the most commercially successful FIFA World Cup to-date is greatly enhanced by London’s world class sporting facilities, mature football market in terms of sponsorship, broadcasting, ticketing and hospitality, and proven track record in managing large scale sporting and cultural events. A highly lucrative World Cup in 2018 will allow FIFA to re-invest in the game the world over, generating a positive global legacy.
The experience of hosting the London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games and the huge financial investment entailed, plus the capital’s existing infrastructure for transport, accommodation, security and entertainment means England’s bid offers a great deal more than our competitors.
The Mayor, who chairs London United, the group coordinating the capital’s host city submission, will accompany the FIFA delegation, who will make their final decision in December. He said:
“We are competition ready with London’s commitment to football at the heart of England’s bid. Londoners love football and every community throughout the capital is passionate about it; add in the diversity of those communities, and every visiting team to the city will play to packed stadiums in front of a home crowd. And off the back of the Olympics our party will be the only party to go to.
“We have the heritage, expertise and infrastructure to put on the most commercially successful World Cup FIFA has even seen, meaning more reinvestment than ever in football home and abroad.
“The heart of this is a life time opportunity to grow the game on home soil. But we need support. We’ve made a cracking submission but with 100 days to go, it's still all to play for. I believe that nowhere in the world could host a better World Cup than England for 2018 so I’m urging everyone, up and down the country, to back the bid. If we win this, we’re on the way to 4.5 million more young players coming to the game."
This week London has turned red and white as part of the ‘Back the Bid Week’ launched by the 2018 team. Supporting the bid, and welcoming the FIFA visit, City Hall is sporting a giant two-storey red and white banner, seen from the Thames, which reads “England United: The World Invited.”
Those out and about in London will also see street banners on Whitehall, Park Lane, in and around Parliament Square and Millbank, as well as along Victoria Embankment, around Wembley, the O2 arena and the ExCel Centre.
The 2018 ‘Back the Bid Week’ will feature a range of events involving football clubs, companies and the general public, including the City Hall endorsed ‘Wear Your Shirt to Work Day’ when staff will be wearing their football shirts to work on Tuesday to celebrate 100 days until the bid result is announced. The initiative is also supported by candidate host cities and England 2018 partners including Morrisons, BT and British Airways.
If successful, each host city is committed to staging two amazing FIFA Fan Fests, which in London would happen in addition to ongoing city-wide celebrations turning the capital’s most iconic open air spaces into festivals of football during the 31 day contest