FOX Soccer Exclusive
The World Cup seeks a new home
Below, we examine the 2022 World Cup bid, ranked in the order we feel they will fall, choosing as our favorite the USA to host in 12 years time.
WHY: American soccer clout has grown exponentially since the country hosted the 1994 World Cup, and two successive Women’s World Cups. America is now the world’s largest consumer of soccer on television, and its corporate sponsors and broadcasters pay the lion’s share of the revenues that global soccer receives.
Locally, while MLS is not yet a world-class league in terms of talent or attention, it is a steady gainer, and is the lone successful major sports league start-up since the merger of the AFL and NFL. In the incredibly competitive and money-rich world of American sport, that’s darn impressive. A Cup would surely help this league climb over the top.
Last, but most important: A USA World Cup will make everyone very rich. No country can charge the ticket prices the USA can, nor is there any country on earth with the immigrant base to ensure that every team — no matter how obscure — will get rousing "home" support. The bid committee expects a repeat of 1994 in terms of enthusiasm and financial windfall — and most neutrals would likely agree with them.
PROS: World-class facilities, guaranteed sellouts, top-tier ticket pricing, and bales of money to be made. Arguably the Americans are the world leaders in terms of experience when it comes to hosting world sporting events. In fact, the USA is often the “Plan B” for major sporting events as the number of high-quality stadiums across the nation available on a moment’s notice are the envy of the sporting world.
CONS: Lots of folks just don’t like Americans, and some with good reason. The latest elections probably didn’t help this bid as they fuel concerns about possible economic cuts. Some stadiums have public transport problems, and the hot summer weather has been raised as a concern.
ODDS: 80%. The USA is considered the bookies’ favorite.
WHY: Australia is the new soccer heavyweight in the Asian region (the Aussies used to be part of the far weaker Oceania) and is looking to cement its already glittering worldwide reputation as a sporting power. Australia has extensive experience in hosting major sporting events: In fact, the World Cup is the only tournament the Aussies have never staged.
FIFA CORRUPTION SCANDAL
- Havelange resigns over bribe report
- Emirates airlines demands FIFA reforms
- FIFA starts Bin Hammam probe
- Bin Hammam made personal loan
- Asian officials react to payments
- Audit: Bin Hammam enriched himself
- FIFA chief blasts British lawmakers
- Blatter wants time to clean up FIFA
- Bin Hammam: Blatter acted like dictator
- Trecker: FIFA bodies to remain buried
- Trecker: The crumbling cult of FIFA
- Trecker: Soccer deserves a better FIFA
- Warner, Bin Hammam damned in report
- FIFA opens case against Austin
- Warner quits FIFA; charges dropped
- Bin Hammam wins appeal against ban
Australians argue that given the success of the A-League and the Socceroos, that it is time for them to stage the Cup on the only continent yet to stage the event. They point to their proximity to the emerging Asian middle class thanks to the tech boom and the growing clout of China, and feel they can sell out every game. Finally, their government is fully behind their bid, and prepared to back it with massive financial guarantees.
PROS: World-class facilities, immense passion and sporting knowledge; an emerging soccer league and an unquestioned ability to stage big events.
CONS: Australia is far away from many places, and transport is an issue. World broadcasters will have a say on where the Cup is staged. That’s small stuff; this is a very solid bid.
ODDS: 75% The Aussies are considered a close second.
WHY: Qatar, immensely wealthy from enormous natural gas reserves, is attempting to become the first Middle Eastern state to host a World Cup. Some might think it would be best if Qatar actually qualified for one first, but that’s beside the point as far as the bidders are concerned. They are presenting their nation as an historic opportunity for FIFA to embrace the Arab and Muslim world, and in turn, are expected to open their society up to the West.
In theory, it is nothing short of audacious, and could have the same sociological impact on their country and region that the co-hosting of the 2002 Cup had on South Korea.
PROS: Bales and bales of cash, and a willingness to shovel it where they feel it needs to go. One of their most striking proposals is to air-condition every stadium, shielding it from the brutal summer heat. It’s never been done, but most feel that if Qatar says it can do it, it can.
CONS: Where to begin? There are serious security risks due in part to the close proximity of the stadiums and games. Also, you cannot air-condition an entire country. FIFA has serious concerns over the summer heat and the health and welfare of not only the teams and the VIPs (heaven forbid!) but the lumpen fans as well. Nonetheless, given Qatar’s willingness to ladle out the money, this is anything but a dark-horse bid.
ODDS: 50% The heat has hurt Qatar’s bid. Were the climate a bit different, this might be a compromise shoo-in.
WHY: South Korea is bidding to host the World Cup in an effort to cement its place as the leader in Asian football. They co-hosted the tournament with Japan in 2002 in an uneasy compromise that resulted in a memorable spectacle, and lots off off-field tensions between the historically antagonistic nations. That experience soured many in FIFA on the wisdom of having two countries co-host a tournament again.
PROS: Cash is not a problem as South Korea is willing to spend whatever it takes to get a Cup. Great facilities, superb transportation and an excellent infrastructure. The population is ardent about soccer, and one of the great moments at the modern World Cup was seeing the entire nation erupt as its team reached the semifinals.
CONS: Lodging is a concern: When South Korea co-hosted the 2002 World Cup, the euphemistically named “love hotels” (exactly what you think they are) were turned over for the fans. Some of you might enjoy this little bit of sleaze, but many didn’t. A bigger question is the increasingly violent and erratic neighbor to the north, making security a major concern. Finally: Weren’t we just here? Twenty years is too soon.
ODDS: 10%. No chance.
WHY: Japan is third-best in soccer in Asia, and would like to be No. 1. The J-League is arguably the best in the region, and a World Cup would help deliver a massive kick in terms of attention and sponsorship. Also, many in Japan feel they were cheated out of the 2002 World Cup. In their view, they were forced to co-host the tournament with Korea, a nation they historically have had poor relations with. Japan’s hyper-modernity is a selling point.
PROS: Gorgeous facilities, great transport, unswerving dedication to detail. Japan is a hyper-modern nation with a passionate soccer fan base and the unquestioned ability to pull off a major event.
CONS: Japan isn’t cheap, and while FIFA doesn’t often think of the fans, that’s going to be a factor. Also: Weren’t we just here? Again, twenty years is too soon.
ODDS: 5% Even less chance.
Jamie Trecker is a senior writer for FoxSoccer.com covering the UEFA Champions League, European and world football.