FIFA announced Thursday that Russia will host the 2018 World Cup and Qatar will host the 2022 World Cup.
The announcements weren’t complete shots in the dark, as both Russia and Qatar were amongst the favorites going in to the voting. However, both nations had serious question marks looming over their bids. Allegations of corruption within England and Spain regarding the Russian bid have made the rounds for weeks now. And Qatar will need to build many stadiums and training centers in the next 12 years.
Perhaps more shocking than the selections of Russia and Qatar, has been just how poorly favorites England and the US faired. England, the bookies’ favorites coming in, received only two votes and were knocked out of the first round. The bid from the Netherlands and Belgium received four and they were at 50/1 winners compared to England on less than even money.
The US was outvoted in the early rounds by Japan and Korea, hosts merely eight years ago. Eventually the US bid made the final round of voting, but was beaten by 6 votes of 22 available.
Clearly, there was some overconfidence within the England and US camps, but why? The FA is confident, bordering on arrogant, regarding everything. So this isn’t a major surprise. But surely it would have only taken a decent bid to win with the infrastructure already in place and such passion for the game.
And the US, really, why the overconfidence? I’ve never really understood why US Soccer Federation Sunil Gulati remains in charge. He’s failed to attract a top-level manager for the national team and it’s stagnated in the past World Cup cycle and failed to attract a World Cup. Time for a change.
What’s really sad in all of it has been the reaction of soccer media in the US. One of the most respected bloggers on the subject in the US, Ives Galarcep, said the following on Twitter after the announcement:
“I apologize in advance 4 my language since I keep it clean on here usually, but 2 quote Kanye West, this is ‘Fucking Ridiculous’#SoAppalled,” “Whether it’s Jose Mourinho, Jason Kreis or Caleb Porter, whoever coaches USA in 2022 better put up a five spot on Qatar in group play.” and “I would have said more than a five-spot but considering it’ll be two thousand degrees, may be tough to score more than five on Qatar.”
What’s worse, was the response of US star Landon Donovan on Twitter, “I have an idea..we play Qatar in a friendly(they can even host it), and the winner gets to host the 2022 WC..wait, do they even have a team?”
Sure, as a fan of the US National Team and current England resident, I was bummed to hear the news. And sure, I blasted FIFA over their decisions amid corruption (you can read those bits on twitter, @austinlindberg). But it’s time to grow up, guys. Everyone knows there’s at least a hint of corruption within FIFA, but that’s the way it is. No sense in blasting Russia and Qatar over it.
Because when it comes down to it, Russia and Qatar will put the necessary effort into making their World Cups a success. No one wants to be remembered as the host nation of an awful World Cup. And in the case of Qatar, the spectacle of the whole thing will be a lot of fun to watch.
So settle down. Even if the US was hosting in 2022, it wouldn’t make much difference. Their home matches against the world’s best are usually better-supported by away fans, anyway.