There is some breathless commentary to the news that FIFA seems set to restrict the 2018 World Cup bidding to European countries, leaving 2022 open for the rest of the world.
“From what I’ve discussed with the president of Uefa, Michel Platini, in the last few days in Moscow is that only a European candidate will be evaluated for the 2018 World Cup,” Blatter said. “It’s still not decided, but it’s an idea to help facilitate the work of Fifa and its executive committee.”
While it might be news that FIFA would announce this formally, it’s hardly a secret that the 2018 World Cup was set to go to Europe. The World Cup and FIFA has certainly been too Eurocentric for too long given the World Cup has never been away from Europe for more than one cycle until now, with 2010 and 2014 consecutively outside Europe. For 2018 to have also been outside Europe as well might not have been a bad thing, but it certainly would have been shocking, especially given the success of Germany 2006.
2018 is essentially a three-horse between England, Spain/Portugal and Russia, the latter a slight outsider at this stage. Spain/Portugal is a very serious contender, especially with Blatter’s more interesting comment today that joint hosting was not a major impediment (thought to be the case after the various issues FIFA had with Korea/Japan in 2002): “History has shown that at the European Championships of 2000 [Belgium-Netherlands] and 2008 [Austria-Switzerland] that joint organisation can be a great success,” Blatter said. England, of course, have a very strong case, though seem to be attempting to sabotage their own efforts with the disputes between the Premier League and Football Association over the bid. Russia has the problem of proving it can overcome many infrastructure obstacles to hosting the tournament across their vast territory. It will be a tight race.
That leaves Japan, Australia, South Korea, Qatar, Indonesia and the United States bidding for 2022. It’s probably too soon for either Japan or South Korea. Qatar have a strong, well-backed bid in financial terms and given the influence of AFC boss Mohammed Bin Hammam should not be underestimated in terms of backroom influence, but there are fairly obvious issues to a country with a population of 1.4m hosting a World Cup. Australia would provide a large chunk of fresh meat for FIFA to develop the sport further in though they do have some internal problems with their bid to overcome, while the United States has the best bid in financial terms, with unparalleled modern, large stadia.
What’s not surprising is that it’ll be Europe in 2018, and somewhere else in 2022.
- Such is football’s hegemony in English sport that it’s taken over a week for the British press to remember that the Olympic Stadium did have a legacy use planned for it: that running track West Ham would have to work around if they did move into the stadium wasn’t just there for decoration, but for athletes to, uh, run on. The timing of West Ham’s sudden renewed interest in a move there (a couple of years after ruling it out) could not be worse for UK Athletics, about to submit a bid to the IAAF for the World Championships in 2015. UK Athletic’s chairman Ed Warner said “West Ham made a clear decision two or three years ago that the stadium wasn’t going to work for Premier League football and for them to come back to the table and to put a spanner in the works regarding the timetable is just very frustrating for us because we’re trying very hard to plan the legacy future of this stadium.”
- Poor Peterborough: things obviously aren’t good when your club chairman says “The team spirit from the last two years has nearly been destroyed by greed, skulduggery, tapping up and disloyalty from within and this has all occurred over the last 120 days or so, non stop and is eating away at our inner core.”
- And things are even worse if rumours of Colonel Gaddafi’s son buying your club doesn’t seem relatively that bad anymore, in the latest installment of Portsmouth’s woeful tale.
- Egypt’s upcoming clash against Algeria in the Africa Cup of Nations just got a little more intense with news the latter’s government plans to airlift in hundreds of fans.
- EPL Talk looks at the abysmal state of Premier League websites, and I have to say I agree entirely with the analysis: the cookie-cutter approach, and in particular the choice of the hideously cluttered cookie cutter used, has been a dismal failure.
The Sweeper appears every weekday, and once at the weekend. For more rambling and links throughout the day every day, follow your editor Tom Dunmore @pitchinvasion on Twitter.