Five years ago on Wednesday, fans in the U.S. were eagerly waiting to hear confirmation that the US would host the FIFA World Cup for the second time. The 1994 FIFA World Cup was a huge success in terms of attendance and revenues and was the last time a CONCACAF country had hosted the quadrennial tournament.
The Winner to Organize the 2022 FIFA World Cup Is…
With those words FIFA President Sepp Blatter pulled the name of the host country out of an envelope which read – QATAR.
In a first for FIFA, 2 World Cup hosts were announced at the same time. Russia was awarded the 2018 FIFA World Cup moments before the Qatar announcement.
The announcement came with some degree of disbelief among the bidding nations and the world.
It is funny looking back on the announcements and how Blatter prepared the losing federations for the outcome as well as positioning himself as oblivious to the outcomes.
Blatter set up the announcements saying, “Football is more than a game…In football we learn to win and that is easy and in football we also learn to lose and this is not so easy. As we have had 4 bidders for 2018 and we can have only 1 winner than obviously 3 of the bidding associations must go home by saying ‘what a pity’ but they must now stand by saying football is not alone by winning football is also a school of life where you learn to lose. That is not easy.”
He then called for the envelope.
“I now would like to know what is the decision for 2018…I have to announce it. (Man walks on stage with envelope) This is the public notary of the city of Zurich. He gives me the envelope. Ladies and Gentlemen, I do hope that the name of the winner is on both sides because I don’t know (the winning federation). So the 2018 FIFA World Cup will be organized by Russia.”
President Barrack Obama said at the time he thought FIFA made the ‘wrong decision’ while US 2022 bid chairman and US Soccer president added that his team was ‘disappointed’ and pointed to some of the challenges ahead for the two winning bids.
“We’re disappointed, Gulati said back in 2010. “No way to get around that. We worked very hard. The country has been behind us in a way we haven’t seen. We know it came down to two. Which automatically means it was very close.”
“But there’s a lot of countries in the world that want to host these events. People have figured out a way to do it and not lose a lot of money, especially if you don’t have infrastructure issues. Certainly in the two winners today there are going to be a lot of infrastructure needs and commitments have been made by the governments.”
The surprise announcements appear to have been the event that is resulting in FIFA’s house of cards starting to crumble. Sixteen of the 24 executive members have been suspended, arrested on bribery charges, banned or connected to corruption. The bidding for the 2026 FIFA World Cup has been put on hold. The 2022 FIFA World Cup has been moved to the winter.
It’s five years tomorrow that this bunch of crooks and clowns sent the 2018 and 2022 World Cups to Russia & Qatar. pic.twitter.com/Qdwp1Pr54m
— sportingintelligence (@sportingintel) December 1, 2015
The corruption charges with the vast number players involved and transactions could take years to resolve but regardless of how they were won it will be difficult to strip either Russia or Qatar of their hosting rights.
FIFA issued a statement earlier this year saying, “Russia and Qatar were awarded the 2018 and 2022 FIFA World Cups by democratic vote of the Executive Committee. Based on expert opinions and available facts, FIFA has no legal grounds to take away the hosting of the FIFA World Cup from Russia and Qatar.”
And is there even time or willing hosts to step in for either of the current hosts?
Russia was reported to be budgeting $20 billion while Qatar was setting aside as astounding $200 billion to prepare the tournaments although both countries are rumored to be scaling back initial plans to host.
Only time will tell how the people involved in the voting (and running FIFA) will get sorted out or whether the 2018 and 2022 FIFA World Cups will be successes or a reminder of how corruption became such a critical player in the beautiful game.
Will the 2018 and 2022 World Cups be moved? And how do you think they 2018 and 2022 FIFA World Cup be remembered?