Monday, 18 May 2009

World Cup 2018 – England’s turn?

It may be eight years from now but the bidding to host the 2018 World Cup is underway and England launched their bid on Monday, in the spectacular surroundings of Wembley Stadium.
David Beckham will front the bid, rather unsurprisingly. Well-known throughout the world Becks is the obvious choice even though he will be well into his 40s by the time the tournament starts!

Bidding is also taking place simultaneously for the 2022 competition. Given the high level of politics involved in the bidding process I suspect that deals will be made between countries in order to back each other for the respective tournaments.

Already, it is rumoured that the USA’s 2022 bid, fronted by President Barack Obama, will be supported by England in return for their support for 2018 to be held across the Atlantic.

So who are the other contenders bidding for both tournaments?

Well in Europe we have Belgium-Netherlands (joint bid) Portugal-Spain (joint bid) and Russia. Given by 2018 the previous two tournaments won’t have been held in Europe (for the first time ever) it is expected that a European country will get the nod now FIFA’s rotation policy has been scrapped.

England must then be fairly confident of heading the European vote - particularly as FIFA boss Sepp Blatter has said he prefers bids from a single country rather than joint bids, especially when both countries have the ability to host a tournament on their own (Spain and Portugal have both hosted tournaments in the recent past).

With Russia there would be questions about its infrastructure and stadia, though both have made great strides in recent years and would no doubt be improved by 2018.

Outside of Europe we have Australia, Indonesia, Japan and Mexico while Qatar and South Korea are just bidding for the 2022 competition. The main threat would probably be from Australia. The country has developed a new passion for football since the rise of the Socceroos in recent years. A sports mad country anyway, it would certainly have the facilities to host the tournament.

Given my own bias I think it should be England’s turn to host the World Cup. It will have been over 50 years since the World Cup was last here by 2018 and I think that is too long for such a football mad country. We have the facilities in place to host it straight away - we just have to play the political game and make the right noises.

The bidding team have admitted they made mistakes in their failed 2006 bid, with much of the world viewing England as arrogant. I think it will be different this time round. With the successful Olympic bid behind us and the committee having learned from their mistakes I hope by the time the 24-man FIFA committee make their decision in December 2010 we will have done enough to earn their vote.

My World Cup prediction is for England to host the 2018 World Cup and Australia to play host in 2022.

Fingers crossed!