FIFA have a massive decision to make in December 2010: who will host the 2018 World Cup?
There are many strong contenders to stage the tournament, from Australia to Russia, but there should really only be one country in FIFA’s minds. As well as looking at transport links and stadia, the 24-man executive committee who will choose the hosts should consider history and tradition.
They can inspect the financial stability of a nation all they like, and closely examine how easy it will be for teams to travel to and from their match destinations, but when FIFA discover that these factors are pretty much equal in the countries leading the race, the deciding vote must be given based on the answers to a few questions:
1) Which countries have hosted the World Cup before, and how recently did they do so?
2) How popular is football in each country? And so which country would put on the biggest show?
The final question that the committee should ask themselves is that of: Which country actually invented football? England is the answer of course, and the question then is: Has 52 years been too long to have not had a World Cup hosted by the country that actually came up with the idea of the damn game?
FIFA would not even be welcoming bids for the 2018 football World Cup if English citizens hadn’t thought up the idea of kicking a ball between two posts over 100 years ago. Surely, after the soccer world-tour has found itself at places from Japan to Mexico, it is time for football to return back to its home, back to its roots.
And after the greatest show on Earth has visited South Africa in 2010 and Brazil in 2014, having the World Cup hosted by a time-zone friendly nation like England would be something FIFA would welcome as well. Europe would not have to get up during the night to witness the matches, nor would a lot of Africa.
Those reasons are not the most important though. As well as the country’s footballing history and tradition, England would offer truly electric atmospheres at world-class stadiums. Wembley would be buzzing, Old Trafford bustling and St James Park vibrant. England’s own football fanatics would unite with the world’s colourful and passionate supporters to create an unforgettable backdrop to the magical football on the pitch.
Nobody is doubting the capabilities of other contenders like Australia or Russia though. Both of those nations would certainly put on a spectacle to behold, but is the passion for football really as a great as in England?
Other nations hoping to host the 2018 tournament are Spain and Portugal, who are putting together a joint bid, the USA, who surely couldn’t be considered after hosting the tournament in 1994, and Mexico, who have had the cheek to bid again after already staging two previous World Cups. They cannot be seriously considered either.
Japan and South Korea have both tabled individual bids as well, having jointly hosted the 2002 tournament, and they must surely be out of the running before the voting process has even begun for that very reason.
FIFA appear to be less keen on joint bids this time around, so it also seems unlikely that efforts from Spain and Portugal or The Netherlands and Belgium will succeed.
So there is no doubt that England, Australia and Russia have the best chance of winning the right to host the 2018 World Cup, but if they fail with their bids these countries could be helped by FIFA’s new voting strategy. It will also be decided in December 2010 who will host the 2022 World Cup, and nations that are unsuccessful with their 2018 bids are invited to bid again straight away for 2022. So there is every chance that two of these three leading contenders for 2018 will get to host a World Cup in the near future, maybe even all three.
But we must hope it doesn’t come to that for England. It will be extremely disappointing if FIFA decide a nation like Russia or Mexico is more worthy of hosting a World Cup than England, the great England that invented football.
It must be time for football to come home, for Wembley to stage another World Cup Final and for England’s passionate fans to sing their hearts out on home territory. And who knows, it might even be time for the next generation’s version of Bobby Moore to lift the famous trophy itself once more.
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