Thursday, November 25, 2010

Who Will Host The World Cup In 2018 And 2022?

I must admit, I've been putting this on the back burner for a bit too long. Way back in January I had done some research on the stadiums that had been submitted by each candidate for the 2018 and 2022 FIFA World Cups with the thought that I would put together this very article after the 2010 World Cup was over... what can I say, I am a lazy bastard sometimes. Between then and now Indonesia have withdrawn their bid, and each candidate has settled their bids down to one or the other year.

2018, The Candidates:

Belgium–Netherlands: Netherlands national team have in the past been one of the world's best teams that just has not been able win a World Cup. Belgium has never been a powerhouse, but as neither country has enough stadiums to host the event on their own they put their resources together. The catch here is that even then, to get those stadiums up to the required seating for a World Cup, just about every stadium will have to go under expansion. If they can manage it, the average seating of the stadiums with be around 49000.

England: Like them or not, England are the inventors of the modern game of Futbol, Football, or Soccer if you must. That being the case it is almost sad to say that they have only managed to win one World Cup, in 1966, as hosts. It is also a bit crazy that they have only hosted the event that one time, until you realize there have only been three countries to host the event twice: Mexico, Italy, and France (Brazil will become the fourth when they host in 2014.) Most of the stadiums are ready to go, with only four new structures to build. Average capacity is 53000.

Portugal-Spain: Spain, in theory, could host a World Cup on their own. They have, as mentioned above, already done so twice. Portugal, however, despite having a strong enough National Team, is a small nation, and with a geographical location that precludes any other joint venture... There are only three stadiums from Portugal in this bid, and all could be used as they are today. Spain matches those three in stadiums that are ready to go with out any expansions. The rest are either under construction, need expansion, or are only proposals - stadiums that are only likely to be built if this bid is accepted. Average stadium would hold around 55000.

Russia: Like many other candidates, a lot of construction and expansion of existing stadiums will have to be undertaken if they are chosen as 2018 hosts. If they succeed, and everything goes as planned they would still have to lowest average stadium capacity, just under 49000.

Strongest bid, in my opinion, is England, though I can see either of the joint bids getting the nod. Russia? I just do not see that happening.


This should, in theory, be a no brainer. Japan and South Korea, joint hosts back in 2002, have put in separate bids. Based on that fact alone, I cannot see them being taken as a serious bid. Then there is Qatar. Come on, can they seriously think they have a chance? If they were chosen teams would be faced with the prospect of playing in searing heat, average temperatures in the country at the time of year the tournament would run would be 104° during the heat of the day, lows of 86° (that is 40° Celcius, 30° Celcius.)

OK, that eliminates the obvious, which leaves the USA and Australia. Both of these bids face a prejudiced of mine... Australia has a list of stadiums that are primarily designed for cricket, and Australian Rules Football matches. Most will need some expansion. The USA stadiums are all designed as multipurpose stadiums, but their major function is that of being the home stadiums of teams that play in the NFL (National Football League... that is Football as in the Gridiron form of the game, closer to Rugby than Futbol,) or College teams, again of the American version of Football where the ball is not round, and the ball spends most of the time in the hands of one player or another. Thing is, none of the stadiums in the USA bid will require any sort of expansion. They are all existing, well maintained venues. This should give the USA bid the nod.

So why does it bother me, a native of the USA, that these the USA might, and most likely will, host the 2022 World Cup? The average stadium capacity is over 75000, far greater than any of the other candidates. Yet something about it just does not sit well with me. Certainly there must be a more deserving host. Australia do have a chance, and here is why: the USA already has hosted the event once, in 1994. They were given that event in an effort by FIFA to strengthen the popularity of the sport in a country that had barely acknowledge the sport even existed prior to that point. Before the bid for the 1994 World Cup the USA did not even have a league that got any television exposure, and MLS was born in 1993 as part of that bid. Considering that the MLS Cup Final, recently won by Colorado Rapids, set a record for the fewest television viewers in the history of the league is not a good sign.

Australia has long been more interested in Cricket, Rugby, and their own Australian Rules Football (anyone care to try and explain that sport's rules, feel free) than in Futbol. While they have had a Futbol league, the A-League, founded 2004 (OK, the first season was actually 2005/6,) they could still use the push that the USA received in 1994. That might just be enough for them to pull the rug out from under the feet of the USA.

A week from now the powers that be at FIFA will sit down and let the world know whom they have chosen to host the 2018 and 2022 World Cups.

Who would you pick?

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