With Brazil prepping to host the 2014 World Cup, today would be the big day where FIFA would announce the 2018 and 2022 hosting destinations.
And just minutes ago FIFA president Sepp Blatter announced in Zurich that Russia would be the host of the 2018 event and Qatar will host the World Cup in 2022. And the news comes as a great disappointment to us Yanks who hoped to seal the tournament yet again for the 2022 experience and of course Three Lions fans of England must also feel a bit of disappointment today as well considering they will miss out on hosting the 2018 event.
The decisions would have likely seemed to be surprising if the voting took place a year back. England’s 2018 World Cup pitch has been a popular topic in the media in the last few years considering the nation invented the game and also has the most entertaining and coveted domestic league along with the richest history regarding the sport. The same goes for us Yanks who recently constructed two state of the art facilities in the last few years that likely could have fit around 120,000 people into the final matches of the tournament, but in the last few months rumors were shifting in the two selected countries favor and both were actually considered heavy favorites heading into today.
I suppose the decision of Russia can still be considered a bit surprising considering their political leader, Prime Minister Vladimir Putin, refused to participate in the nation’s final pitch this week and was often outspoken and critical of competing nations for the honor. Add in the fact that Russia is one of the least profitable destinations in the world for domestic football and the decision could appear to be strange on the surface level.
I guess the same could go for Qatar as well. In fact if I went out on the street today and asked 100 different Americans to point to the country on a map, I seriously doubt more then 1 or 2 would be able to pinpoint it’s exact location. But regardless of the Middle Eastern nation’s lack of worldwide popularity or football history, the nation was selected anyway and I suppose deserves the bid considering Middle Eastern nations rarely are considered for such honors.
And similar to South Africa being awarded the honor last summer (the first African nation to be awarded the honor), it appears the FIFA theme is to bestow the honor on a nation that has yet to host it and in some cases on an entire area of the globe that has yet to have the chance to attend the World Cup. No Middle Eastern country has ever hosted the World Cup and Russia has never hosted the event either.
England last hosted the World Cup in 1966 and the USA in 1994.