Russia and Qatar concerns in World Cup bid reports
England and Spain/Portugal's 2018 World Cup bids have been ranked equally as 'low risk' overall by FIFA's inspectors but rivals Russia are 'medium risk', it can be revealed.
The executive summaries of the evaluation reports by FIFA's inspectors have been published on Wednesday but they do not tell the whole story.
The 24 FIFA executive committee members who are voting on the 2018 and 2022 hosts have been provided with a confidential report judging 17 separate categories on risk - including overall operational risk.
It can be revealed England, Spain/Portugal and Holland/Belgium have a 'low' overall operational risk while Russia is judged as 'medium'.
In further good news for England's bid, and the Iberian campaign, Russia's air transport plan is judged high risk - the only high risk mark for any of the 2018 bidders - while Holland/Belgium has nine of the 17 categories judged as medium.
Among the 2022 bidding countries, Qatar is given a high overall operational risk rating.
In the published summary of their report, FIFA's inspectors do not provide any overall risk rating but they have raised issues with all of the four bids for 2018. The concerns about England surround training camps, the number of contracted hotel rooms and training camp hotels. Spain/Portugal is told it needs a proper safety and security strategy.
The concerns about Russia's bid, also a "low legal risk'', are regarding its transport plan, particularly in relation to air traffic, and is a much more costly and difficult issue to resolve in such a vast country. Holland/Belgium is judged a "medium legal risk'' as the necessary government guarantees have not been provided.
On England, the report states: "The bidder has not contracted the required number of venue-specific training sites or venue-specific team hotels. The fact that not many of the rooms have been contracted in full compliance with FIFA's template hotel agreement requires further analysis and potentially renegotiation. FIFA could be exposed to excessive pricing.''
On Russia, the report says: "The country's vastness and its remoteness from other countries, coupled with the fact that the high speed rail network is limited ... would put pressure on the air traffic infrastructure potentially causing transfer challenges.
"Any delay in the completion of transport projects could impact on FIFA's tournament operations and the proposed installation of temporary facilities could impose a high cost burden.''
Spain/Portugal looks to have the fewest criticisms, but the security issue is a serious one. The report states: "A clear operational concept has not been specified for safety and security.'' Like Holland/Belgium, the inspectors state co-hosting represents a challenge.
In relation to the 2022 bids, the inspectors have warned that Qatar's searing summer heat could be a "potential health risk for players, officials, the FIFA family and spectators''.
USA is a medium legal risk due to a lack of government guarantees, while inspectors say a World Cup in Australia, Japan or Korea would risk a reduction in European and American TV income.
The dual World Cup hosting vote will take place in Zurich on December 2.
ENGLAND (bidding for 2018)
Good points: Transport, stadia, IT, security, marketing, legacy.
Bad points: Too few venue-specific training sites or venue-specific team hotels, too few training base camp hotels.
Good points: Stadia, transport, hotels, legacy.
Bad points: Lack of clear security plan, co-hosting "a challenge''.
Good points: 13 planned new stadia, hotels, legacy.
Bad points: Huge transport challenge and major building programme needed.
Good points: Stadia, legacy.
Bad points: Too few hotel rooms, co-hosting "a challenge'', lack of government guarantees.
Good points: Stadia already built, hotels, transport, security.
Bad points: "Medium legal risk'', lack of government guarantees.
Good points: Novel approach to World Cup, legacy, new stadia.
Bad points: June/July heat "potential health risk'', 12 stadiums located within a 20-mile radius.
Good points: Legacy, security, stadia, transport infrastructure.
Bad points: Shortage of contracted hotel rooms, transport challenges, risk of reduction in European and American TV income.
Good points: Stadia, technology developments, hotels, transport.
Bad points: Security plan not fully ensured, risk of reduction in European and American TV income.
SOUTH KOREA (2022)
Good points: Legacy - may play some games in North Korea, stadia, technology, security.
Bad points: Risk of reduction in European and American TV income.