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Countdown to 2018

The next World Cup is 2 1/2 years away. The following World Cup is in nearly seven years. So why are we discussing the 2018 tournament?

Because FIFA bossman Sepp Blatter said today that the number of nations interested in staging the event might have to be trimmed down before a winner is announced. Asia appears set to back an Australian bid.

Among the early candidates:


We would all like to see the United States host the Cup again in our lifetime, but given the countries interested, should FIFA look to award the tournament to a nation that has not previously hosted (or hasn't hosted in a very long time)?

Let's say FIFA decides to eliminate most bidders at various stages of the process. Who should be the three finalists?

By Steve Goff  |  November 26, 2007; 3:45 PM ET
Categories:  World  
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1. benelux (heart of the eu, amazing beer, and god knows the belgians need something to rally around before the country splits at the seams)
2. australia (they have a league, they have the ability to construct some fantastic facilities)
3. don't much care beyond those two

Posted by: hogmesh | November 26, 2007 4:00 PM | Report abuse

I know the logistics of it would be crazy, bu t a combined US + Mexico bid would be awesome, if rather hot.

Posted by: noptov52 | November 26, 2007 4:05 PM | Report abuse

The three finalists should be the US, Australia, and whichever European bid the Europeans decide is their best. Although to give us the best shot of hosting it I'd prefer the US, and two European bids which would split up the Euro voting bloc

Posted by: dwbpnm | November 26, 2007 4:05 PM | Report abuse

Australia, England, and Benelux.

A very cheap joke could be made about England and qualification here, but I'll refrain.

Posted by: B.A. | November 26, 2007 4:09 PM | Report abuse

Spain or Australia. But, lets be serious, it's going to England.

Posted by: Hacksaw | November 26, 2007 4:15 PM | Report abuse

Every money-making entity should want to hold a tournament in China.

some money FIFA earns from staging world cups should be invested into developing the soccer infrastructure of poorer countries, making their future bids more realistic and staving off the trouble South Africa and Brazil will have to "get it all ready in time".

Posted by: Adam Spangler | November 26, 2007 4:16 PM | Report abuse

3 Finalists:

Posted by: ShamelessHomer | November 26, 2007 4:29 PM | Report abuse

I would like to see Spain host. They've never hosted...and Spain is almost Africa.

Posted by: bribri | November 26, 2007 4:30 PM | Report abuse

it should be england, australia, or belgium/netherlands

however, i'd prefer the US so i can go to the games :)

Posted by: chris | November 26, 2007 4:34 PM | Report abuse

Spain hosted in '82.

Posted by: Whip | November 26, 2007 4:39 PM | Report abuse

my guesses for the finalists, ranked by the likelihood of them hosting:

1. USA
2. England
3. China

when will this final decision be made?

would FIFA every consider naming the finalists, and then have them play matches to determine which nation hosts in 2018.

imagine a WC "hosting" bracket, starting with the quarterfinals of:





have them play home and away in 2011 to see who gets to host in 2018. (although i'm not sure how a joint Belgium/Netherlands "team" would work).

Posted by: tab5g1 | November 26, 2007 4:40 PM | Report abuse

Another vote for Benelux. Australia would be great too.

Posted by: DCBird | November 26, 2007 4:43 PM | Report abuse

That idea about a joint US/Mexico venture sounds really cool. Probably an organizational nightmare though. We could have a winner take all match to determine who gets the final. :)

Spreading the WC around is great and all, but FIFA would do well to follow the Super Bowl model. Should only put on the event in locations with infrastructure to put on and host a great event.

Posted by: jasonVA | November 26, 2007 4:44 PM | Report abuse

I would like to see the USA compete against itself.

East coast vs West Coast.

One of the drawbacks of having the World Cup in the states is the crazy travel between host cities. There are enough stadiums in this country that the whole tournament could be held in just a few states.

Posted by: Wes | November 26, 2007 4:52 PM | Report abuse

While I'd love to see it in the US in '18, I just can't believe that it'd be held outside Europe 3 times in a row.

No matter how much money there is in China.

Therefore, I'd have to say that the likely candidates are

1. England
2. Russia
3. England

But I can see where they'd want to pare it down like the Olympics -- 1 from each region.

In which case, it's all totally academic and pointless (except for the media and money FIFA will get), and the pare down will be

1. England
2. Doesn't really matter (USA/Mexico)
3. Doesn't really matter (China/Australia)

Posted by: Eric | November 26, 2007 5:04 PM | Report abuse

But Belgium/Netherlands would make each of those countries automatic qualifiers. So that's potentially two less qualifying spots for the rest of Europe, right? The major European powerhouses might not mind, but some of the smaller nations might not be happy with that.

I like Australia, England, and US as the three favorites. China has potential, but I don't know that FIFA will want to get sloppy seconds to the Olympics, so to speak.

Posted by: Shatz / DCUMD | November 26, 2007 5:05 PM | Report abuse

US and Mexico? I'm sorry, but that's really dumb. Each country is more than capable of hosting its own event -- and has! They only did the Japan/Korea split because each alone were too small to host, and they wanted it in Asia. As if traveling for teams and fans around one giant country was difficult enough?

Give it to someone new.
1) Benelux
2) Australia

Posted by: RK | November 26, 2007 5:07 PM | Report abuse

If we are going to use it to expand soccer leagues in the "new worlds" I would think a Canada/US bid makes more sense then a Canada/Mexico bid. Mexico already has a pretty firm grip on a strong soccer league while the US and Canada still need that extra little bit of help to really get us going.

But for the goal of expanding soccer as a sport maybe it should look something like:

If we are talking about getting it back to Europe I would say:
3)Benelux (only because they just had Germany which was easy for them to attend the games)

So maybe England vs. China.

Posted by: Southeasterner | November 26, 2007 5:10 PM | Report abuse

Chances (Good Fair or Bad)

England - Good ... Depends on 2012 olympic success

USA - Good ... 24 years is a long enough wait imo, league is growing, great (but hidden) international soccer interest

Australia - Good ... A-League is doing well, stadiums are there and can get better, olympics were great in '00

China - Fair ... Problems keep growing in their country, but good stadiums, depends on 2008 olympics for now

Spain - Good ... 36 years is long enough wait, they have good stadiums, and their team is consistently pretty good.

Mexico - Bad ... 3 world cups out of 13 would be too much

Russia - Fair ... Good team, hosting CL final this year, could be a darkhorse pick

Belgium/Netherlands - Fair ... Good combo in euro 2000, they must convince fifa that a shared bid is good

So, my 3 finalists are:

Posted by: rkc | November 26, 2007 5:11 PM | Report abuse

I agree with Wes, an east coast bid would be amazing (east of the Appalachians)

If you go by what's actually listed I'd have to go with Australia, Benelux, and Spain. The east coast would replace Spain if it could happen.

Mexico wont happen because it hosted twice in recent memory, Russia has no chance with it's hooligans, and I just don't see China happening. England's the dark horse, there are a lot for it and a lot against it.

Posted by: Skyler | November 26, 2007 5:14 PM | Report abuse

The next World Cup is 2 1/2 years away. The following World Cup is in nearly seven years. So why are we discussing the 2018 tournament?
Because it is the greatest game on this planet and no one can't missed ths golden opportunity to bring that glory to their countries.
Final three: 3)Mexico, 2)Spain, 1)USA. I will be taking off month long to watch the games and probably max out the credit card! England already has its next door hosted in 2006 so they shouldn't get it.

Posted by: td | November 26, 2007 5:20 PM | Report abuse

England, Australia, and the USA will make the short list, prompting protests from the numerous Anglophobes around the world.

England will win the bid because UEFA will be desperate to return the Cup to Europe after two tournaments off the continent, and will promise anything to anyone to make it happen.

Posted by: SSMD | November 26, 2007 5:31 PM | Report abuse

I can't see FIFA giving the 2018 tournament to North America after a South American host in 2014.

I also can't see the tournament going back to Spain before England hosts it again.

I think it will be between England and Australia.

Posted by: Evan | November 26, 2007 5:39 PM | Report abuse

I would like to see the USA compete against itself.

East coast vs West Coast.

On what criteria would a choice be made? What about all of the cities in the middle; where would the line be drawn?

Posted by: 22201 | November 26, 2007 5:43 PM | Report abuse

Would FIFA really allow three World Cups in a row to be outside of Europe? I don't see it. Think England or Benelux. Maybe Spain. With the others really laying the groundwork to claim 2022 or 2026, by which time a China tourney might make sense or the US might have established itself as an even more obvious choice with stronger performances in the tourney.

Posted by: Steigs | November 26, 2007 6:35 PM | Report abuse

I would like to see the USA compete against itself.
East coast vs West Coast.

On what criteria would a choice be made? What about all of the cities in the middle; where would the line be drawn?

Posted by: 22201 | November 26, 2007 05:43 PM

Dude. MLS Geography 101: Dallas, Houston, Denver, and Salt Lake City are in the West. Columbus, KC, and Chicago are in the East, except when KC and Chicago were in the West. And Toronto is in the East, but it's not part of the USA, except when it is*.

Got it?

* The 2004 Wiggles United States (sic) Tour T-Shirt listed "Toronto, ON" among the venues.

Posted by: I-270, Exit 1 | November 26, 2007 7:02 PM | Report abuse

"but given the countries interested, should FIFA look to award the tournament to a nation that has not previously hosted..."

Steve, Must I remind you that if you're not with us, you're with the terrorists?

Posted by: I-270, Exit 1 | November 26, 2007 7:03 PM | Report abuse

who cares what blatter says? the guy's a moron that can't keep his trap shut.

a narrowing of candidates isn't going to officially happen, though i wouldn't be surprised if a lot of backroom dealing was going on (a la Germany 06 and Salt Lake City 02) already.

if i try to be impartial and look at who i think will wheel and deal the most to woo the "voters," i see the top 3 like this:

1. England
2. Australia
3. USA

Posted by: mike | November 26, 2007 8:16 PM | Report abuse

I'd like to see the WC played in a country with enormous stadiums so more people can witness the Adu/Altidore show.

I know Spain's got the Nou Camp, Australia's got Aussie Rules stadiums, and the U.S. will still have RFK . . . not too sure what China, Russia, and Belgium/Netherlands have. Sorry, but Germany's stadiums were waaaaay too small to meet demands.

Posted by: Glaucon | November 26, 2007 10:12 PM | Report abuse

I have to say, england makes the most sense, then spain, and then probably china, they're big money makers, and it's all about the bottom line. What I'd like to see is the US, Benelux, and Austrailia. In that order.

Posted by: Rich | November 27, 2007 12:35 AM | Report abuse

England deserves it. We hosted the World Cup 13 years ago and we don't even care about the sport. They live and breathe this stuff, have some of the best soccer infrastructure in the world (and after South Africa and, especially, Brazil, hat's going to be a HUGE concern) and haven't hosted in over four decades. I mean seriously, why is there even debate on this?

Posted by: Andy | November 27, 2007 12:48 AM | Report abuse

I suggest Trinidad and Tobago. After all, Sepp (Pig's) Blatter owes Jack Warner something for covering his #$%& all these years... ;-)

If not, how about Cuba? After all, FIFA's so interested in helping these Third World countries get their soccer programs off the ground...

BTW, did I mention that Steve Sampson would be the perfect coach for los Cubanos?

Posted by: Joseph D'Hippolito | November 27, 2007 12:57 AM | Report abuse

England, Australia and USA shoudl be the 2018 candidates allowed

Posted by: Ben | November 27, 2007 3:26 AM | Report abuse


Posted by: grukul | November 27, 2007 4:57 AM | Report abuse

Of course I would love to see the World Cup here in the US again, but considering we just hosted in 1994, I don't see us getting another one so soon when there's been others who haven't hosted at all or in a while. Based on your criteria and the list above here are my finalists:


With England winning the bid.

Posted by: Felix | November 27, 2007 7:45 AM | Report abuse

A lot of it is out of US Soccer's hands.

The U.S. has simply damaged its image too much in the eyes of the world in the past 5 years. If you travel much abroad, you know this by now. We're a borderline pariah nation--people don't know what we stand for anymore or what we're going to do next. You couldn't have the World Cup host randomly bombing or invading countries leading up to the tournament.

An England World Cup would make FIFA big $$$, too, so it's not as if that's enough by itself to get the U.S. another crack at it.

And flush all joint bids down the toilet--a World Cup spot is too precious to give two away for free.

Posted by: Shmenge | November 27, 2007 8:35 AM | Report abuse

If FIFA thinks that having England in the finals is a boost, then the only way to guarantee their participation (since qualification seems to be an issue) is to let them host the tourney.

Posted by: Soy United! | November 27, 2007 9:17 AM | Report abuse

1: England. they should get some reward for coming back from the pariah status of the hooligan years with their leagues and national team. if you are going to ban someone for behaviour, it's doubly good to reward them for good behaviour.

2: USA. big stadiums. growing game. cheap for Euros to visit, lots of loyalty to a lot of different teams.

3: Oz. would be above the US, but a: it's so freaking far away; b: federation had Japan/Korea more recently; c: no way will three straight cups be south of the equator; d: did I mention how bloody far away it is? no TV in Europe, no TV in the Americas.

Posted by: northzax | November 27, 2007 9:22 AM | Report abuse

1. England

2. USA

3. Mexico

and totally OT, but RIP Sean Taylor.

Posted by: john.liang | November 27, 2007 9:54 AM | Report abuse

Beckham scored again with his tradmark free kick in front of more than 80 thousands fans. So is he worth signing with MLS? I think so.

Posted by: td | November 27, 2007 10:00 AM | Report abuse

London is hosting the Olympics in 2012, so I would be surprised if England hosts the 2018 World Cup. But I really think that the WC will return to the European Continent. My 3 would be
1. Spain/Portugal:It was announced today that a joint bid is in the works.
2. Benelux:It would be sweet and Brussels and Amsterdam are both fairly important international airline hubs, its convenient for travelers.
3. (Tie) USA, England, Australia: One of those English speaking countries.

Posted by: ReadingfromCH | November 27, 2007 10:03 AM | Report abuse

Becks gets hurt AGAIN?!? Oh man, MLS must be loving this...

Posted by: john.liang | November 27, 2007 10:04 AM | Report abuse

Lets not forget one important thing...Which venue allows FIFA to make the most money. North and South American venues are best for TV because the games are played during prime time in Europe, so the TV revenues will be more.

However, there is no way on God's green earth that Europe does not have the World Cup for 12 years. No way that happens. so I think the finalists are:

1) England
2) Spain
3) Russia

Posted by: therealfootball | November 27, 2007 10:05 AM | Report abuse

If it isn't in the USA, then the next important factor for me is when the games will be televised. England would work. How far ahead, timewise, is Australia?

Posted by: Joe Doc | November 27, 2007 10:06 AM | Report abuse

2: USA. big stadiums. growing game. cheap for Euros to visit...

Predicting exchange rates 11 months from now, let alone 11 years from now, is a tall order. As a matter of fact, the number of fans visiting from overseas in '94 came in well under projections, because it was not cheap to visit the USA at the time. Fortunately (for everyone except the hotel operators, who had a lot of empty rooms), there was plenty of domestic demand for all the tickets that they thought they were going to sell abroad, so most of the matches were sellouts anyway.

Posted by: 22201 | November 27, 2007 10:12 AM | Report abuse

no TV in Europe, no TV in the Americas.

Did the '02 experience bear this out? For many of us, the ritual of getting up at an early hour enhanced the experience, as it did for the WWC in China two months ago. And in Europe, it would be morning, so TV ratings would be fine, although the massive absenteeism would cause the GDP of a lot of countries to plummet.

Posted by: 22201 | November 27, 2007 10:18 AM | Report abuse

England or Spain make the most sense logistically... more stadiums, easier transportation options, and its the only way England may qualify for the tournament.

China should not be allowed to host a world cup until they clean up their human rights record.

Posted by: d, dc | November 27, 2007 10:22 AM | Report abuse

In june/july east coast Australia would be 12 hours ahead of east coast US, pretty close to the time difference during Korea/Japan.

I repeat, there isn't a chance Russia would host the tournament, they have the worst hooligans in the world right now. A Portugal/Spain joint bid would be far less favorable to FIFA than a Benelux bid, Belgium, Holland, and Luxembourg are much more interconnected than Iberia. Plus this is the only way Luxembourg would ever get to host a World Cup (probably Belgium too) while both Portugal and Spain could do it alone.

Posted by: Skyler Yost | November 27, 2007 10:22 AM | Report abuse

Wouldn't a "Benelux bid" have to include Luxembourg among the hosts and therefore also among the participants?

If Luxembourg isn't part of the bid process it would be more correct to call it the "Benny bid".

In honor of DC's #14.

Posted by: garbaggio | November 27, 2007 11:08 AM | Report abuse

1. England
-Haven't had it in a long time
-The birthplace of the game
-Has many modern, large stadia, only the US has more
-Could also stage games in Cardiff and Glasgow

-Poor NT performance as of late
-FA is incompetent
-Will have just hosted the Olympics (could be a pro though)

Competition-UEFA will only support one
-Russia (not quite there yet, questions about democracy and corruption-after being in SA and Brazil you would think FIFA would want to be in a more stable country, will be a serious contender for the 2022 or 2026, depending who gets it)
-Spain/Portugal (Spain had it not too long ago, Portugal recently had the Euros, don't think FIFA is crazy about joint-bids-despite the EU regulations that make one much easier logistically than SK-Japan)
-Benelux (they have no chance with the heavyweights involved, will be hurt by the fact that Germany had it so recently)

2. Australia
-Seem to have the strongest case outside of England
-Have the growing and popular A-League
-A great sporting nation who have recently hosted the Rugby WC and the Olympics
-Their rivals in Asia don't seem to have very strong cases

-Time difference

-China, too many questions still, a lot dependent on the '08 Olympics, still a very weak footballing nation, exhibiting a very weak performance in the AC this summer
-Japan, just hosted in '02

3. USA
-Most modern, large stadia in the world, no one can compete here, would likely break attendance recors
-Soccer much more popular now than it was in '94
-Could stage a game in Toronto, maybe even Mexico City
-Would be great for the MLS

-Just had it in '94
-Negative perception of the US around the world, both politically and in footballing terms
-Will likely have a better case in 2022

-Mexico, have hosted two in a relatively short period of time, CONCACAF will only back one bid

-With all this in mind, it appears that 2022 could be just as competitive, with US, China, Russia, and Australia (assuming they lose out to England) battling it out

-On the Benelux bid, I heard that Luxemborg would probably host one or two games, though would not have its NT participate.

Posted by: Chase | November 27, 2007 11:42 AM | Report abuse

1) England -- money, history, location
2) China -- money, future growth
3) Australia -- infrastructure, growth

Posted by: David | November 27, 2007 11:52 AM | Report abuse

I doubt Belgium would have automatic qualification if Benelux won the Cup and I don't think England will be as much of a favorite as everyone thinks. FIFA really wants the WC to be THE big event of recent memory in the host country, which means the London Olympics could be a bit of an issue. The proximity of Germany may hurt Benelux a bit, but I still think UEFA wont end up supporting an English bid (remember, they went against a handshake agreement not to bid for '06)

The time difference with Australia may hurt tv ratings on this side of the globe, but doesn't most of Asia's huge population get the games via pay-per-view? That's a lot of cash

Posted by: Skyler | November 27, 2007 11:57 AM | Report abuse

If the US gets it, you'd probably see the first semi-final match played at FedEx Field (currently with the largest capacity on the East Coast), the second semi-final at the Rose Bowl, and the final at the new Texas Stadium (which supposedly could hold up to 100k).

Posted by: Juan-John | November 27, 2007 1:52 PM | Report abuse

TOP 3:
England - Maybe... Put them as finalists, though the whole hooligan thing may backfire.
USA - Highest attendance in a WC ever. Plus, I would volunteer again.
China - Keep as finalist. Maybe can get them to stop torturing and censoring as a way to give them the WC.

Spain - NO. I am a Spanish citizen, but WC in 82 was poorly attended and country lost money on the event.
Mexico - NO. Have hosted twice already.
Russia - Never hosted but not sure infrastructure is good enough (stadia + transport between cities, hotels)
Belgium/Netherlands - FIFA should never do the 2 country hosting again. It doesnt work.
Australia - NO. Too far/expensive for people to travel to.

Winner: FIFA will pick China and have the US as a backup, alla Women's World Cup

Posted by: Juanma | November 27, 2007 2:21 PM | Report abuse

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