Europe set for 2018 World Cup, Australia eyes 2022
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Has FIFA President Sepp Blatter confirmed what we all should have expected? In a press conference in Madrid, Blatter has given his strongest hint yet that the World Cup is destined for a return to Europe in 2018, which would leave Australia with only 2022 as a possibility.
“From what I’ve discussed with the president of UEFA, Michel Platini, in the last few days in Moscow is that only a European candidate will be evaluated for the 2018 World Cup,” Blatter said to the press in the Spanish capital.
“There is a movement at the moment among the various candidates that in the end it would be a good solution … if the candidates for 2018 would only be those from Europe.
”It’s not been finally decided but it’s the idea, also to make the work of FIFA easier and especially that of the executive committee.”
Blatter’s comments sent shockwaves across cyberspace on Australia Day. Fox Sports ran the headline: “Australia’s World Cup bid doomed”, seemingly forgetting the bidding process involves the 2022 tournament as well.
The proposal would need the majority of votes of the FIFA Executive, and it’s hard to gauge what the response will be from the other confederations to this free-kick for UEFA.
While many expected European nations, namely England, Russia, Belgium-Netherlands and Portugal-Spain, to be favourites for 2018 considering the tournament would have bypassed Europe for the previous two events – South Africa 2010, Brazil 2014 – the audacity of FIFA to try and change the rules so late in the bidding process to guarantee European success doesn’t do much for the credibility of football’s governing body.
It adds another sorry chapter to the messy World Cup bidding process with the plan to rotate between confederations eventually scrapped and the dual bidding process for two World Cups seemingly causing much consternation – unnecessarily confusing an already heavily political process.
Although many Aussies considered 2022 as the countries best bet in the bidding process, FIFA’s political maneuverings will do little to endear them or the tournament to the many Australians who are skeptical of the World Cup on our shores, be it as a result of the controversy regarding accommodating the AFL and NRL seasons into the World Cup schedule, the ongoing question marks surrounding suitable stadiums and who would foot the bill for much needed developments in infrastructure.
The Australian bid couldn’t afford too much bad publicity, with the war of words with the other codes overshadowing the bidding process itself of late, and FIFA’s latest move will only do more damage on the publicity front.
It is a bitter blow to the FFA and Frank Lowy, the latter maintaining his stance that Australia was a contender for 2018, not to mention the fact he’ll be 92-years-old in 2022 and could be cruelly denied the chance to witness the World Cup in Australia.
If we assume 2018 is booked for Europe then, and European countries are ruled out from the 2022 running, it sets up Australia and the USA as the main combatants with Japan, South Korea, Qatar and Indonesia as the outsiders for 2022.
We’ll wait and see what FIFA does next.
But we can be even more confident now in saying the 2018 tournament is destined for Europe, and our eyes will be on 2022.
Adrian Musolino is editor of V8X Magazine, and has written as an expert on The Roar since 2008, cementing himself as a key writer who can see the big picture in sport. He freelances on other forms of motorsport, football, cycling and more.
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