The muckety-mucks at FIFA will announce tomorrow which countries will host the 2018 and 2022 World Cups. FIFA.com will probably be carrying the announcements live on stream and Fox Soccer Channel will have a special airing at 10 am Eastern with the announcements at 11:00 am.
The U.S. was initially competing for the hosting of the 2018 World Cup but withdrew to focus on the 2022 World Cup. In the end, that is a smart move since the U.S. 2018 World Cup bid was at best a long shot with the competition likely to held in Europe. Since 1998, the World Cup was held in Europe (France 1998) Asia (South Korea-Japan-2002), Germany (2006), Africa (South Africa-2010) and to be held in South America (Brazil 2014). So it probably really is Europe's turn again. England, Spain-Portugal, Russia, and Belgium-Netherlands are the four bids for 2018. This one is hard to call and there have been allegations from Russia of dirty-dealing by the English Bid Committee (I know--backroom deals in FIFA--Perish the thought. These FIFA guys make the Mafia looks respectable sometimes). In reality, I would think the bid is between Spain-Portugal and England. If the World Cup 2018 is in either country--my family had better get used to the fact that vacation will be there. I have never attended a World Cup game outside the U.S. and I so very want to do so.
The 2022 bidders are a weaker lot with the strongest being Australia. The others are Qatar and South Korea. Given the events of the past week between North and South Korea, you can pretty much bet that the South Korean bid is done for (plus the fact that they hosted the event just 8 years ago). Qatar has almost zeor infrastructure to host a World Cup. Even if their claim of building air conditioned stadiums can be done, there is also the need for 32 world class training facilities, much more transportation infrastructure, nowhere near the number of hotel rooms and then there is the problem of the heat. It is in the freaking desert, a place where 120 degree (F) heat is the norm in the summer. That creates a small problem for FIFA, who in recent World Cups has been pressing organizers for the creation of "fan zones," gathering spaces for fans of the coutnries to gather in the event they can't get tickets to the match. Even if the stadiums are air conditioned, I am pretty sure that fan zones won't be.
I worry most about the Australia bid. The Australians hosted a brilliant Olympic games in 2000 and they certainly know how to host a world event. The World Cup has never been held in Oceania (and Australia is probably the only nation there that could host a World Cup. The Aussies are a charming lot, it is a wonderful country and to be frank, I wouldn't mind going to Australia for a World Cup. They would need some stadium upgrades, but they have built some nice new stadiums recently. It is a big country to get around in and might need to transportation upgrades, but not on the scale of Qatar even though Qatar is something like a tenth the size of Australia. The weather wouldn't be too much of a concern, although it would be another Winter World Cup. (Technically, much of the Brazil 2014 competition will be technically in winter, but it is pretty close to the Equator).
The fact is, there is probably only three nations--maybe four--that could host a World Cup on short notice and that is the United States, Germany, and England. South Africa, having just hosted the event could probably do it as well. Add to the fact that the U.S. can boast 20 World Cup Class stadiums right now without having to lay another brick. Movement around the U.S. is easy, swift and relatively cheap. Each city which could host a World Cup match can also host twice as many fans in hotel rooms in each site. You want fan zones, we can put fan zones all over the place and it is safe, reasonably secure.
I am excited and I think the U.S. has to be in the driver's seat for 2022.