This release is going out earlier than usual to avoid any conflict with the actual decisions as I am curious to see how close we come to the actual decisions from FIFA.
So here we are on the precipice of the decisions for the next two World Cups. All the parties are gathering in Zurich as we speak and practices are occurring in the lead up to the final presentations before the FIFA committee, sans (2) voting members.
Here is the schedule of events for this week at FIFA. Interesting to me is that the 2022 bids are coming first, and the 2018 bids last, also the order of the bidding countries.
My predictions for 2022 (Australia, Korea Republic, Qatar, United States, Japan):
The winner: United States ... but only by a nose. I don't think it's the star power such as Morgan Freeman and Bill Clinton that will be joining the bid team that pushes this over the edge for them. At the end of the day, I believe this is about two things, money and infrastructure. You could even say they are the same thing and it comes down to money.
At the end of the day, lets face it, FIFA is a business, and business is there to make money. There would be no greater opportunity to do so than the US. While Japan and Korea are in a similar boat in ability to make money, there are logistic and political issues in play, as well as just recently being there, that make this choice, I believe, less attractive than others to FIFA.
My runner up is Australia. I think the "Socceroos" made a significant impact in 2010 and this, along with the available infrastructure and climate, make it a runner up to the US. Additionally I believe that FIFA would do well in Australia as far as the ability to make money.
Finally I think Qatar takes 3rd in the voting as while I don't discount FIFA's desire to "share the Cup with the world", there are many things no going Qatar's way when stacked up with these others. Climate is among them as Chuck Blazer's comments about air conditioning a whole country ring true. Infrastructure and political climate is another reason that may militate away from hosting the Cup. Some would say, neither is particularly well developed for the influx of tourists that would flock to the tiny country for the event.
My predictions for 2018 (Belgium/Netherlands, Spain/Portugal, England, Russia):
The winner: Russia ... again by a nose. This time the issue, I believe, is much simpler, and has to do with ego and pride.
FIFA does not like being challenged. This much has been clear in the days just behind us. Their ethics investigation, while good, was painful for them. Even in the face of new bribery allegations, those involved have scoffed off the allegations and FIFA itself has stated it will not open an investigation. It would seem clear that FIFA just doesn't want to hear about it at this point.
For this FIFA will make England pay dearly for the actions of its independent press, and not allow England the honor of hosting the Cup in 2018 through not voting for who I believe should be the host in 2018.
FIFA has already set themselves up well for this decision trotting out excuse after excuse as to why England should not be allowed to host, paving the way for a not so stunning rejection, should it occur.
My runner up is England however, as there seems to be some level heads on the FIFA EXCOMM and those heads will point to the deserving host, England.
From there, I believe Iberia comes next with a few votes, but also with concerns about unrest in the years ahead as the economic issues of Ireland in 2010 are likely to infect the other smaller European countries in the years ahead. Again, this will impact the ability for FIFA to make money.
Lastly comes the Belgium/Netherlands bid, and the difficulties it would have with logistics and the like in the face of the more powerful bids such as Russia and England.
I am sure these last hours that set the course of international football for the next 12 years will be fascinating, and after the vote, you'll see our take here.