Following England’s announcement that it will definitely bid to host the 2018 football World Cup, rumours are flying that England’s World Cup bid could be subject to a deal with Russia.
Russia are also thought to be considering a bid for the World Cup in 2018 and, while the consensus is that England would probably put together the stronger bid, the English Football Association fear that the Russian bid could take away valuable votes from England, handing the world cup to the US or China instead.
So what better way around this problem than for the two nations to forge a gentlemans agreement? If Russia withdraws from the 2018 World Cup race, then England would support a Russian bid to host the 2016 European Championship.
From the perspective of both Russia and England, this deal seems like a great idea. England get the clear run they need at the World Cup, and Russia, which realistically would have trouble coping with the logistical demands of the World Cup at the moment, gets to host a tournament in which to showcase its rapidly improving infrastructure and which could prove a valuable stepping stone to a future World Cup bid, perhaps in 2026.
Of course, the English FA are flatly denying that they are considering a deal with Russia – an FA spokesman told the Sun:
We reject any suggestion there is a pact.
And Russia would be advised to tread with care anyway when doing deals with the English – if they look back through their history books they’ll discover that the not always honourable English FA made a gentlemans agreement to support a German World Cup bid in 2006, following German support for the English Euro 96 bid. England, of course, reneged on the deal, offering their support elsewhere at the last minute.
The Germans had the last laugh though, as they won the right to host the 2006 World Cup without English support, so perhaps the Russians should instead see the prospect of a broken gentlemens agreement with England as a good omen…