Who will be awarded the 2018 and 2022 World Cups?

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Even though the 2010 World Cup hasn’t even kicked off yet, speculation into the 2018 and 2022 World Cups continues to build. The Goldman Sachs World Cup and economics report had some great thoughts and analysis into the minds of FIFA, the powerful players behind the scenes, and the game itself.

Here are my predictions and rationale for who will be awarded the future tournaments:

2018: Russia

  • It’s widely believed that European country will win the 2018 bid. This narrows the competition to England, Russia, Spain/Portugal, and Belgium/Netherlands
  • I believe FIFA will favor individual bids versus joint bids (eliminates Spain/Portugal and Belgium/Netherlands)
  • It could go either way between England and Russia. However, FIFA has a lot more to gain by putting the tournament in Russia versus England. England is already 100% saturated as far as soccer goes. Soccer has plenty of room to grow in Russia. While FIFA has already taken some major risks by putting the tournament in South America and Brazil, Russia is less risky than those choices, and FIFA can put the tournament in a very stable country in 2022… which leads to:

2022: USA

  • Since 2018 is in Europe, 2022 will be outside of Europe, which limits the competition to Japan, Korea, Australia, and Qatar
  • Japan and Korea hosted just 8 years ago (20 years ago by the time the tournament rolls around). Plus, soccer remains a secondary sport despite the 2002 tournament in Japan, and Korea remains an unstable region. There’s no way FIFA will put the tournament back there. Strike them both.
  • I think the Dubai crisis signals a giant red flag for Qatar. Will the government there get the financing to build the necessary stadia and infrastructure in time for 2022? Will the country experience a similar fate to Dubai in the meantime? Not to mention other Mid-East unrest. Qatar is out.
  • I think Australia could be a solid option for FIFA. Australia was one of the last large countries to have a major soccer league, and soccer is beginning to flourish there. Hosting the World Cup would only reinforce this. And, Australia has already proved that it can host major events, like the 2000 Olympics. However, FIFA has other motives. I believe they will put the 2026 tournament in China or India. So, they’ll want to spread out the tournament in 2022 and not have it so close. That makes the US the target.
  • Ignoring my process of elimination method, the US makes a great choice on its own merits. Soccer continues to grow in America and could be a boon for world soccer. The infrastructure is already built, and although the US hosted the tournament in 1994 (which seems like not that long ago), it will mark 28 years since last hosting the World Cup. Mexico previously hosted tournaments 16 years apart (1970 & 1986) and Germany hosted 32 years apart (1974 and 2006), so it’s not a big stretch for the US. Not to mention money. FIFA will need a small army of dump trucks to carry away the fortunes that a US World Cup could produce from ticket sales and TV deals alone.

So it’s Russia/USA in 2018/2022. If I’m wrong, my second guess is England/Australia. We’ll see in December.

Follow all my World Cup statistical analysis here.

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