Ruud Gullit, president of the Holland-Belgium bid to host the FIFA World Cup 2018, entertains questions from loose cannon via email.
1. What would be the highlights or strong points of your bid?
The short distances are one of our the strongest point of out bid. No endless flights but freedom for all to travel around and come close to the players and the tournament atmosphere. Furthermore, we provide easy access and situated in the heart of Europe. We want to open the doors to all football associations around the world to come and watch how we educate coaches and players and how are football structure operates. We are a safe choice, a guarantee for success. We can build on the experience of EURO 2000, the economic power and a safe environment. We serve as an example for most of the FIFA members who would never dream of hosting the World Cup if we did not give an excellent joint example.
2. What advantages does a joint-bid offer to teams, spectators and sponsors?
Once you have entered either of the countries there is no need to board a plane anymore until after the final. We offer a chance for everyone to taste the best of two countries that have always been closely related and that share the same language. We share the sense of good hospitality, rich history, great artists and above all the love for football.
3. How crucial do you think the Asian vote is with regard to your bid?
As every vote counts on 2 December. I am sure people in Asia will realize that Belgium and The Netherlands have something special to offer.
4. What will be your message to the Asian Football Confederation?
We can show how organizing and structuring the education of coaches and players offers you a real chance of reaching the top in World football. We will offer all FIFA member associations the chance to have an inside look into our system so that football worldwide can benefit from the World Cup in Belgium and The Netherlands.
5. What is your opinion or stand on countries hosting the FIFA World Cup more than once? There has been precedence in the case of Mexico, Germany and Brazil. Even amongst the 2018 World Cup bidders, England and Spain have played host before.
Every country has the right to bid for the World Cup, even it is for the second time. We want to give hope in the hearts of the smaller nations that would possibly never dream of organizing the World Cup. This might be the last chance for joint bidders to provide an example to the rest of the world.
6. How would you describe the development of football in Asia? Do you foresee an Asian country winning the FIFA World Cup any time soon?
If you look at the results of the Asian teams in recent World Cups you can see their improvement all the time. 2002 saw the great discovery of Japan and South Korea as footballing nations with a great potential. I saw Japan play The Netherlands a couple of times in recent years and the Dutch have more and more trouble winning their matches versus ‘Nippon’. It will not be long before an Asian team will play the World Cup final, and probably win it as well.
7. If your bid is successful, what is your promise to the teams, spectators and the football world as a whole with regard to FIFA World Cup 2018?
We have seven Great Goals that we want to share with the world. We firstly want to contribute to world football by focusing on the core values of football, beautiful goals and joy for the fans, just like the Belgian and Dutch team have brought joy to football fans around the world in past years. Everyone will arrive in Belgium and The Netherlands and enjoy the World Cup with the shortest distances between venues ever. Apart from that society all around the world can benefit from the greenest World Cup ever, from World Coaches that educate children who are less well off and the Open Club concept, which stresses the importance of football clubs at a social and community level.
8. The Open Football Club concept is interesting. Can you explain further on the concept and how it can be adopted in developing countries especially in Asia?
In Belgium and The Netherlands we have a club structure that is unique in the world. Everyone can join a football club at almost every street corner. These clubs have excellent facilities with artificial pitches and changing rooms and a comfortable club house. These facilities should be used 24/7. A football club should be the social and educational heart of the neighborhood where people of all ages, from all social backgrounds find something of use during day time and in the evening. The clubs play a crucial role in the social cohesion, the fighting of obesities, cultural integration and development of children. We will help Asian countries copy this concept and use the strength of football to the very full. All FIFA member associations will be invited to our World Cup in order to have a look in our kitchen of football.
9. How would your bid reflect the FIFA slogan “For the Game; For the World”?
Our slogan is Together for Great Goals, which expresses that two countries work together in order to achieve glorious moments of football and to achieve great goals off the pitch well. We will host the greenest World Cup ever and further implement the World Coaches concept as well as The Open Football Clubs.
10. The Dutch team came agonizingly close to the world title in 2010. What do you think is the missing ingredient that Netherland needs to be crowned World champions?
It is a matter of luck and composure. If you look at the chances of The Netherlands in the final we should have scored at least once. Next to this, we are already very proud that our nation reached the final of a World Cup even three times. We never won, ok, but playing the final soo many times for us already is an achievement.
11. The merger of the FIFA awards and the Ballon d'Or. Good idea?
I think there should be several prizes with several juries to decide. In that case you can see if everyone agrees on the best players and best teams.
12. The FIFA World Cup bids have been plagued by allegations of vote-buying. All the campaigning around the world and yet the final decision and vote lies with 24 executive committee members of FIFA, now reduced to 22 after two were suspended for their involvement in bribery. Against this backdrop, are you optimistic of landing the rights purely from the football perspective?
We hear and read the stories in the media. FIFA have started an investigation and they are the institution to deal with this matter. It is not a discussion we are involved in.