Football

Should the 2018 and 2022 World Cups be relocated?

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It had been common knowledge for years that FIFA was a corrupt organisation.

As soon as it was revealed that Qatar, a country that reaches normal highs of 41 degrees and is smaller than Wales, was to host the 2022 World Cup our long-held suspicions seemed to be confirmed.

It wasn't even that Qatar was so unsuited to host a major tournament weather or area-wise, but the sheer lack of suitable infrastructure to accommodate the biggest contest in world football.

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Less shocking - but still confusing - was the awarding of the 2018 World Cup to Russia. In another shocking coincidence - sarcasm heavily implied - Qatar just so happened to be the richest country in the world with Russia not far behind. 

I appreciate that smaller countries should be given the chance to host such prestigious tournaments as if it only stayed between the 'big footballing countries' the system would simply transfer from corruption to elitism.

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However, to allow a country like Qatar - practically anonymous footballing wise and shocking abusers of human rights - to hold the World Cup is beyond an abomination. If FIFA had decided to allow Australia or the USA to host the cup, both still 'small' in terms of international football and with only one World Cup hosting between them (USA 1994) it still would have allowed 'smaller' countries the opportunity without opening a huge can of worms. 

But of course, FIFA is not run on logic or reasoning. It is run on cold hard cash. Swiss investigators are looking into 53 cases of money laundering within FIFA, some dating back as far as the 2002 Japanese World Cup. Of course, there is little that can be done about the hosting of previous World Cups, but there is something to be done about future ones. 

Domenico Scala, Head of FIFA's audit and compliance committee, has already admitted that a revote could occur if there is significant evidence of corruption regarding Russia's 2018 World Cup bid and Qatar's 2022 bid.

It is starting to feel like simply a matter of time before Swiss and American investigators uncover the information they need to prosecute FIFA officials and outlaw the bids of both countries. Jerome Valcke, FIFA's General Secretary, has already been forced to step down following the unearthing of a £10 million 'payment' from South Africa.

If corruption was happening as early as 2002 and as recently as 2010 - not to mention investigations into Ex-Brazilan football chief Ricardo Teixeira's link to Valcke around the 2014 World Cup - why would it suddenly stop in time for the 2018 or 2022 bidding process?

Now, almost certainly knowing that the 2022 World Cup - or both - will have to be relocated the question rises; who? 

Which countries are worthy of hosting the most prestigious tournament in World football? 

2018: 

England and Russia both applied for the hosting of the 2018 World Cup as well as joint bids from Belgium-Netherlands and Portugal-Spain. Russia must be taken out of deliberations as they are currently on course to host the 2018 World Cup so relocation would rule them out.

The area of Spain and Portugal is just shy of 225,000 square miles. Netherlands and Belgium has an area of roughly 37,000 square miles and England is roughly 50,000 square miles. This means that for transport across the area for games and training, Belgium-Netherlands is the easiest for players.

It is well documented that moving between time zone and constant flying is bad for player condition and so hosting the tournament in Belgium & the Netherlands would seriously reduce this impact. England also benefits from not having to move between a time zone and thus has this similar advantage to the Belgium-Netherlands bid.

In terms of infrastructure, Spain has two of the largest stadiums in World Football with Camp Nou (99,000) and the Santiago Bernabeu (81,000). A thriving and world famous league, Liga BBVA, also means that Spain has the footballing infrastructure necessary to accommodate the tournament. Portugal is also home to the Estadio do Dragao (home of Porto FC) and the Estadio Jose Alvalade (home to Sporting CP) which both hold just over 50,000 spectators.

Somewhat unfortunately for the Netherlands, their infrastructure cannot compete. Being a relatively small country, the largest stadium (Amsterdam Arena) holds 53,000 and the second largest (Stadion Feijenoord) holds 51,000. Both of these are bigger than Portugal's two main stadiums- granted - but the huge stadiums in Spain mostly make up for what Portugal lack.

Belgium, on the other hand, have a national stadium (King Baudouin Stadium) with a capacity of 50,000 - the size of an upper-mid table Premier League side) and no other stadium in the country that can hold more than 40,000 people. 

This is where England, I believe, wins the argument. Wembley can hold 90,000, Old Trafford can hold 75,000, the Emirates Stadium can hold 60,000, the Olympic Stadium can hold 54,000 and St James' Park can hold 52,000. Villa Park also holds an impressive 42,000. This means that England has numerous venues spread out across the country that can accommodate large numbers of fans. Therefore, and I could be biased here, England should host the 2018 World Cup. 

2022: 

Australia, Japan, South Korea and the United States all bid for the 2022 World Cup alongside eventual winners - and soon to be losers - Qatar. I believe that due to Japan and South Korea hosting the tournament as recently as 2002 they should be removed from the contest.

This is because Australia have never hosted a World Cup before, and the United States haven't since 1994, a whole 28 years before the 2022 World Cup. Still, the USA have hosted one before this the fact Australia never has will work in their favour. 

For a country that cannot even say 'football' for the right sport, the USA do have plenty of stadiums that can accommodate large numbers of fans. The Rose Bowl holds a whopping 92,000 fans with the AT&T Stadium hosting 80,000. The NRG Stadium and the Gillette Stadium both hold around 70,000.

Australia, on the other hand, has a national stadium that holds an impressive 83,000 fans and the Docklands Stadium holds 53,000. However, for the second largest stadium in the country to only hold 53,000 is not the standard that one expects from a World Cup host. Still, it is seven years until the tournament, giving the Australian government time to build, or renovate, stadiums across the country. 

Including all of its states - even Hawaii and Alaska which are not part of the central body - the USA has seven different time zones for players to travel across and to adapt to. Coincidentally, Australia also has seven different time zones, meaning for player jet lag they are all relatively similar.

However, the United States of America boasts a whopping area of 3.8 square miles, this is significantly bigger than Australia's which is 2.9 square miles. Both countries are extraordinarily huge, granted, but Australia's smaller area will mean that players will have to be on planes or on transport for a significantly less time than they would have to be if the tournament was held in Australia. 

After looking at both sides, I would have to give the tournament to Australia. The USA has held the tournament fairly recently and Australia is not without good stadiums. The seven years between 2015 and 2022 is also enough time for Australia to renovate existing stadiums or to build new ones entirely. 

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Topics:
England Football
World Cup
Football

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