2018 FIFA World Cup Bidding Nations
There are 4 groups bidding to host the WC in 2018. The English and Russian bids have come to the forefront, especially after Blatter allegedly said that joint bids would not be viewed as favourably as single nation bids. This comment is partly borne from the difficulty during the Japan/South Korea WC in 2002 where fans and football were disrupted by the logistical efforts of being in two separate countries separated by sea.
However, the whole Benelux area could fit into England on its own, so the joint nature is not necessarily just a problem due to size and logistics, as much as the automatic qualification of the hosts, which would mean 2 hosts would qualify, denying a legitimate qualifying competitor a place at the WC.
So the 4 European bids in order of increasing likelihood to win are as follows.
This is a bid on behalf of 3 countries, Belgium, Netherlands and Luxembourg! However, Luxembourg will not host any matches or automatically qualify for the finals in a successful Benelux bid , but would host a FIFA congress. Euro 2000 was jointly and successfully hosted by the Dutch and Belgians, but the size of the stadiums is one problem and currently there is no 80,000 seater stadium. Their bid proposal includes plans to increase all stadia capacity to FIFA standards, and the compact nature of the bid and wonderful public transport are a definite plus.
This bid is also being positioned as the green world cup with the lowest ecological impact and fans will even be given free bikes to travel around. Ordinarily, this bid would be an excellent proposal, but in an environment of exceptional competitors, this will probably be the first bid rejected.
Spain previously hosted the 1982 World Cup, while Portugal organized a very successful Euro 2004, where for the first time, police from all participating countries were allowed to work in tandem with their Portuguese colleagues, making it one of the safest football competitions in Europe up until that point.
This bid seems to be a dark horse, as there is very little public hype, but a lot of praise nonetheless. The proposed stadiums in Portugal are very modern and nearly all ready to go with little modification, and Spain has 2 of the largest football stadiums in Europe.
With good stadiums and infrastructure, the bid is technically sound, but their biggest concern will be the lack of buzz surrounding the bid, which will translate to this bid being knocked out in the second round of voting.
Russia has a powerful case for selection as they are not just a country, but a continent on their own, and they have never had the chance to host the world cup. However, their size could also be a drawback as the cities are spread far apart and the transport between cities is not up to standard for a WC. They are also lacking an 80,000 seater stadium, which would seem an easier requirement to fulfil than providing transport infrastructure for a country so large.
The big unknowns are political and economic stability as well as security and safety. With organised crime rampant in Russia and spreading to Europe, Russia’s 2018 WC bid leader tried to deflect attention away from themselves by mounting a smear campaign on England’s bid highlighting London’s “high crime rate” and youth alcohol problems in an interview.  Whatever Russia’s accusations, any decision to go with Russia would be risky at best. Several countries would rather Russian host the WC for the first time, than let England host it for a second time, but many more will be concerned about the risk.
England has made it clear this is an England only bid, which discounts using the Millennium Stadium (in Wales with a 75,000 capacity) Celtic Park and Hampden Park (in Scotland with 60,000 and 52,000 seats respectively). They are also excluding using the rugby stadiums of Twickenham (London with 82,000) and Murrayfield (Scotland with 68,000 seats) which just goes to show what a powerful bid it is when they can exclude some of the biggest stadia in Europe and not be handicapped.
As mentioned previously, England are ready to host the WC tomorrow if needed, and there is a feeling that after the aborted bid for 2006, this is England’s time. However, there is also a large vocal minority that believe that England do not have the “divine right” to host the world cup just because they invented the game, and that therefore other nations should be given a chance.
At the time of writing, the order above is the likelihood of each country winning the rights to host the WC, but some of those with vast experience of bidding for major events say this one is impossible to call because the normal rules simply do not apply and the intentions of the men who will decide are so hard to read. The only certainty now is that the last two months are likely to make even the previous 18 seem like a model of transparency and fair play, especially concerning the WC 2022 bidding.
- England’s World Cup Bid Hopes ‘Shattered’ (news.sky.com)