World Cup 2018 and 2022: Why I Think Spain/Portugal and Qatar Win

01 December 2010

On Thursday, Sepp Blatter will announce whose bids will win the FIFA World Cup for 2018 and 2022. (Credit Image: © Imago/ZUMApress.com)
Thursday is D-Day. For seven bids, their hopes of hosting either the 2018 or 2022 World Cup will be gone. However, for two select bids, years of hard work will have paid off. As I've said in the title, my feeling is that the Spain/Portugal bid will win the 2018 FIFA World Cup, with Qatar winning the 2022 World Cup. On 10 am Thursday, we'll see if I'm right.

Why I think the Spain/Portugal bid will win the 2018 FIFA World Cup
When it comes to the 2018 World Cup, it could honestly be the tightest of three horse races this process has ever seen. There is only one bid that I think is dead on arrival: the joint bid from Belgium and Holland. While it would be nice to see Holland one day host a World Cup, trying to negotiate lesser demands from FIFA has finished off this bid. I think when the voting comes, Belgium and Holland are the first to go.
The Spain/Portugal bid has one thing going for them- momentum. It certainly helps to have Spain be the current World Cup champions. It also helps they have done nothing to create massive waves in the manner the media has in almost hijacked the England bid, and the Russian Prime Minister has taken away from Russia's bid.
This joint bid has flown under the radar, mainly because the majority of the people didn't think joint bids had a snowballs chance in hell. However, since Sepp Blatter has done nothing to quell joint bids this go around (as he did during the 2010 bidding process), the other nations made a serious error in judgment.
The kicker for me with regards to Spain and Portugal's bid is they have the right mix of old and new. They have the classic stadiums in the Camp Nou and the Santiago Bernabeu. They also have the stadiums built in Portugal for Euro 2004. With new stadiums to be built in Bilbao, Malaga, and Santander, it will help further the infrastructure for the game in Spain.
It also would unite the entire Iberian Peninsula. It's not often you will ever see anyone say that.

Why I think the Qatar bid will win the 2022 FIFA World Cup
This one is all about one thing: Sepp Blatter's legacy. Sepp Blatter was immensely proud to see the World Cup hosted on the African continent this year. He would also love to see another first time host before he leaves as the head of FIFA. That would leave two choices- Qatar and Australia.
Make no mistake about it, the United States is a serious player in this bid. For sheer stadium size and profit from those stadiums alone, they will make it to the last round of bidding. However, I just don't think the United States will win the 2022 World Cup. I think though the United States will end up with the 2026 World Cup.
Qatar presents many unique challenges for FIFA. It would be the first time the World Cup would be hosted in the Middle East, something that Sepp would love to say he was the first to do. In Qatar's presentation Wednesday, they were quick to present a front to help unite the Middle East. While history would be quick to say that's nigh impossible, I think Qatar's the safest nation in that region to help unite everyone.
It would also be the first time a World Cup would be staged in such a centralized region. With five of the seven host cities within a twenty-five kilometer radius of Doha, and all seven within 100 kilometers, it would present a challenge for the current logistics. However, with the amount of money the government has promised for both stadiums and upgrades to current infrastructure, I don't think this will cause a problem come 2022.
The coolest thing about this World Cup bid is the technology involved in keeping the fan zones and stadiums at a reasonable temperature. With the temperatures in Qatar hovering around the triple digits for most summer days and not getting below 85 degrees Fahrenheit in the evening, this technology is key for providing safety for players, officials, and fan alike in official FIFA areas. Qatar is convinced the technology will work, and by using solar power to keep these areas cool, they promise a carbon neutral World Cup. The promise of that carbon neutral World Cup also helps the bid.
I do feel for South Korea and Japan's bid. South Korea's bid pretty much died with the present uncertainty surrounding the nation politically. During Japan's bid presentation, I couldn't help but feel it was nothing more than an advertisement for Sony. Make no mistake about it, FIFA will find use for the 3D technology promised by Sony in Japan's bid. It's just a pity Japan won't be the host when that technology comes into play.
As for Australia, I think the infighting between the various football codes in the nation is the thing that ultimately ends their hopes. While they came to an agreement now, there's no guarantee they are able to keep that agreement come 2022.

I want to make one thing perfectly clear: as an American, I would love to see the FIFA World Cup come back to the United States. I will be among the first to celebrate should they win the right to host. As I said above, I think the USA is all but a lock for the 2026 World Cup. The only thing that would stop that is if China says they want the World Cup. If that's the case, it could be 2034 before the United States has a shot at the World Cup.

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BBC Panorama: My Thoughts on World Cup Vote Corruption Show As It Happened

FIFA President Sepp Blatter. (Credit Image: © Imago/ZUMApress.com)
On Monday, much to the chagrin of most on the England World Cup bid committee, the BBC aired a Panorama special over allegations that certain members voting on the hosts of the 2018 and 2022 World Cup had taken bribes for their services. With the voting on this set to take place on Thursday, the BBC thought it hit a home run. However, after listening at work to the program on Five Live, I started to think most of this program was a bunch of bull. So I've decided to have a look at this program as it aired.

While the program was only a half an hour in length, I've decided the only way I could give my true feelings on this show was to just hit play, watch what I could, hit pause, and just write. I honestly have no clue how this is going to look when I hit publish, so I apologize in advance. So, what are my thoughts on this Panorama 'special'? Let's take a look.

* First off, let's take a look at the man narrating this programming, Andrew Jennings. Sure, the man has written a book, with alot of allegations and very little concrete evidence, but people everywhere take the man's every word as gospel truth. The first thing I don't want to hear about is how proud you are at the fact you are banned from FIFA House in Zurich. From the way Jennings says this, it makes me think he's boasting like an 8 year old son who think he is doing something right. When he asked those worthless question to security, it made me wonder if he ever was going to ask himself the question 'maybe if I had legit concrete evidence from start to finish they might actually take me seriously.'

* Yes, I could understand why Sepp Blatter was not happy at the press conference aired. While the allegations were proven in video, one is never happy having to make changes to already made plans ahead of time. Now I will grant that Sepp should have treated the situation in a much different way. The answer should have been 'while I am not happy with the manner in which the investigation was done, it did lead to results. I hope we can be more careful in the future with regards to these allegations'. It would have smoothed over the wrinkles for the moment and people would have moved on in a quicker manner. Hell, it may have even prevented this program from being aired. Then again, with Jennings doing anything he can to try and nail these people dead to rights on circumstantial evidence at best, I doubt that would have happened.

* So Andrew Jennings gets a hold of a 'secret document'. He never says what this document is nor where it is from. So it makes me ask the question; how on earth can the BBC do a program that is centered around a document we only know as 'secret'? Oh that's right, it takes an additional 90 second to two minutes before we find out this is from ISL. Wouldn't that information been better off told from the start? Yet the next time the document is named, it's back to 'secret'. Maybe if Jennings told us what this document was in full from the start, it would look a little more credible.

* ISL.. how many times does Andrew Jennings have to go to this? Sure, ISL went to trial in Zug, it's old news. In fact, of the four named on this program, only one was ever mentioned in court.

* Let's start with Senor Leoz, the man who was alleged to have taken 2 payments totally 130,000 dollars. This document shows another 3 totaling another 600,000 dollars. So all we know is money, and it was from this 'secret document'. Nothing more. So basically, you have a 'secret document' that says this man was paid three times totally 600k, and no proof they were a bribe. At this point, it's getting harder for me to take this show seriously. And Jennings, if someone was screaming at me like a mad man from a distance, I'd probably ignore him as well.

* Next we move on to CAF head Issa Hayatou, who has one 'cash payment' on the list for 100,000 French Francs. So this time he gets face to face with no proof, just an allegation. Again, from my vantage point, Jennings looks like a mad man when confronting him. Did you ever think Jennings to attempt to follow a money trail from start to finish with more than just a document? Maybe call around and find out and get further proof before confronting? Yea, that's just not up your ally is it.

* Next we find out about companies on the list based in Lichtenstein. One of those companies, Sicuretta, had 36 payments made to it totally almost 50 million dollars. Another of those companies, Sanud, had 21 payments totaling over 9.5 million dollars. What Jennings has is a 2001 Brazilian Senate investigation on Ricardo Texiera. So instead of Jennings trying to find someone inside Sanud to help him trace the money from Sanud to Texiera, he tries the tact he did with Leoz, failing miserably. 

* We then find out about the Zug ruling, and how Sepp tried to twist it. This was one thing Jennings did get right, mentioning that 'some FIFA officials were investigated and that the issue was settled out of court'. However, that's where my compliments stop. At no point does Jennings attempt to find out who these people are, how much money was paid back, and for what reason that money was paid back. If Andrew Jennings claims to be the man he is, he would have attempted to follow the trail. Instead, this just seems like shoddy reporting from a desperate man.

* Now we meet David Mellor. Just from the reaction I saw from those in the UK on Twitter, they found this hilarious. I only wish I personally had the time to figure out why.

* We finally end with Jack Warner. We get the rehash of his ticket touting escapades in 2006, and then his failed attempt at 2010. However, we already knew this. Thanks again Jennings for rehashing old news. One thing I wish the press would have continued to do was press Blatter for what he meant by 'official channels', instead of asking someone else. At least then, that would have been a story.

* It takes 22 minutes before we finally get something the general public had no prior knowledge of: some of FIFA's government demands for hosting a World Cup.  There are eight of them, ranging from Visa issues, to tax protections, and guarantees that protect their commercial interests. However, we never get a list of what those eight guarantees are. All eight should have been made known.

* We end up with one final rehashing of old news, a payment of 1.5 million Swiss Francs that ended up in FIFA's accounts for Joao Havelange. The money has never been proven to be a bribe, and Jennings just goes off half cocked trying to get the answers he wants. Again, this tact is laughable at best.

* The show closes with an open and honest question: is it time for people to start demanding FIFA to investigate everything? Look, everyone wants a clean FIFA. However, as much as we would like to believe everything is perfect, it's not. Hell, let's look at what England did in hopes of getting Jack Warner's vote. Does anyone forget that friendly England had in Trinidad in 2008?

The reality is everyone makes deals in major business. The issue is if these deals are not made on the up and up. All everyone is asking for is full disclosure. That's not a difficult request. However, going about it in the manner in which Andrew Jennings did in this program only makes one question how serious he is about actually uncovering the truth.

When this show was over, I was angry that I wasted a half hour to only get about 3 minutes of material we didn't know before. The one document this show centered around was not vetted in the manner I expect an investigative reporter to do. If Jennings wanted a story, he would have followed the money trail to it's conclusion, instead of screaming at men from a distance acting like a fool who looked past his prime.

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Johnathan Starling, the self proclaimed 'most brutally honest man on the net, dishes out his own unique brand of opinions, and analysis on the Premier League, Bundesliga, and all things US Soccer.

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