FIFA: Russia and Qatar win bids to host 2018 and 2022 World Cups
The 2018 FIFA World Cup will be hosted by Russia following the announcement made by FIFA president Sepp Blatter this afternoon. The 2022 tournament bid was won by the small Middle Eastern state of Qatar which had demonstrated the huge amount of wealth that they intend to invest in stadia and infrastructure as a result of winning the bid. For both tournaments it will be new territory as neither region has hosted football’s biggest competition before and it proves, with Russia’s status as an emerging power politically and Qatar’s economic muscle, that FIFA has chosen to go with the new world order.
When Russia’s former President Vladimir Putin opted out of going to the Zurich for the two days of intense politicking and bidding many saw this as a sign that he wasn’t confident in the bid. However it seems that he may well now have a change of heart and get on the first plane now that his country was ultimately successful in their quest. This afternoon saw Arsenal FC and Russia football star Andrey Arshavin make a passionate speech in favour of Russia’s bid and it helped turn the tide in their favour. Many experts predicted on Wednesday that England’s bid had been boosted by the presence of David Beckham to such an extent that they had become favourites to win it. This was such a dramatic change of fortune for the English bid following a terrible start to the week following the broadcast of an English TV documentary making allegations of corruption against certain FIFA members. Perhaps the tide turned once more last night following some disturbing scenes in an English League Cup tie between Birmingham City and Aston Villa, which saw rival fans throw a flare and numerous seats towards each other. Nonetheless the Russians were also up against joint bids from Spain/Portugal and Belgium/Holland but rumours had circulated before the announcement that FIFA officials were not happy with the idea of another jointly-held tournament. All in all it seems that Russian strengths as well as rival weaknesses combined to give them the honour of hosting their first ever tournament in eight years time.
The Qatari bid t0 host the 2022 FIFA World Cup was given the thumbs up following a tightly fought contest also involving previous hosts the United States, Japan and South Korea as well wannabe first time hosts Australia. It seemed only a few weeks ago that FIFA were concerned following the publication of a report in which views relating to security concerns were aired, suggesting that the country was “a high overall operational risk”. However the talks over the last couple of days have done much to calm fears regarding the subject as well as the Qatari team providing guarantees in other areas. The Qatari delegation, led by chairman Sheikh Mohammed bin Hamad Al-Thani, made their final presentation speech to the FIFA Executive Committee on Wednesday sandwiched in third place in the running order amongst the five candidates. The victory for Qatar means that the country can really show the world well in advance of the 2022 tournament what it can do as early as next year when the Middle Eastern nation hosts the 2011 AFC Asian Cup.