Sports and Olympics Minister Hugh Robertson reflects on the 2018 bid, and the Lee Valley White Water Centre, opened this week.
Well, a week on from FIFA’s World Cup decision in Zurich and the dust is only now starting to settle.
The result was massively disappointing for everyone that put so much into the England 2018 bid. My thanks in particular go to Andy Anson and David Dein for their sterling efforts.
What was frustrating and very difficult to understand was that our technical bid was rated by FIFA as being excellent yet that seemed to count for nothing when it came down to the vote.
I have no problem with FIFA wanting to take the World Cup to new frontiers and to spread the game globally and I wish Russia and Qatar the best of luck with the 2018 and 2022 tournaments. But if that is the key criteria there’s an argument that it should have been made clear from the outset.
The football focus now shifts on to the domestic game and its governance. I don’t see this being connected with the 2018 bid defeat but there is now a definite opportunity to look closer to home and address the state of football in this country.
On Tuesday, the Culture, Media and Sport Select Committee announced its anticipated inquiry into football governance. This is something that I welcome as it will put the spotlight on the football authorities to reform. I have been clear that it is not for Government to run football but I will continue to apply pressure for good governance in the game, as I will with all sports.
What the FA needs now is the right person in the role as chairman who can broker a strong, collaborative relationship between the FA and the Premier League and strengthen the game at the grassroots, bringing new people to the game and focusing on coaching and development so that in the long-term we can bridge the technical gap between us and the likes of Spain and Germany. This can only help the success of the national team in years to come.
A brand new venue for 2012
Away from football, it was a pleasure this week to attend the opening of the London 2012 canoeing and white water rafting venue at Broxbourne.
HRH the Princess Royal set the first race off and Seb Coe was also there to mark the completion of the first purpose built venue for the Olympic and Paralympic Games. Congratulations to the ODA, and in particular John Armit and David Higgins, for delivering Broxbourne ahead of time and below budget.
I was really impressed with the course and spectator facilities and if it hadn’t been close to zero degrees celsius outside the water I might have fancied jumping in a canoe myself and having a go.
The British Canoe Union believe this is one of the best courses in the world and will provide a great training ground for our team in the run up to 2012.
For me, the Lee Valley White Water Centre – to use its official name – epitomises the benefits that London 2012 has brought to our country. The £30 million invested in this site created business and employment opportunities in its construction and will help deliver a real sporting legacy.
Next spring the venue will be open for community use, including outreach and sports development programmes. This access I’m sure will not only help bring a wider audience to the sport at Games time but also increase participation in watersports for years to come.