(Soccer America provides ongoing coverage of the 2018/2022 World Cup bid process.)
By Paul Kennedy, Editor in Chief
Concacaf president Jack Warner, who serves on the FIFA executive committee as one of its eight vice presidents, certainly doesn't mince his words.
Speaking at the Leaders in Football on Tuesday, Warner stole the show with his comments critical of the England World Cup 2018/2022 bid committee. "My colleagues are saying very quietly that the guys who are coming to them are lightweight," the Trinidadian said. "This is the type of thing that loses you a bid. You have to look at what others are doing and also be creative yourself - these things are not happening."
He had earlier said England was "creeping along. It's better than standing still but I would have thought they would be galloping by now. I am not being unkind. I have been a FIFA executive committee member for 27 years, I have seen many other bids, and while England has all the attributes to be a worthy host country, I am not convinced they are making the most of those attributes."
He went so far as to say that the joint Spain/Portugal bid was the favorite to win the 2018 World Cup, expected to go to a European country.
"Spain is doing quite well and some people have even expressed the belief to me that if the vote were taken now they would win," he said. "There is, of course, a long time to go, and many things can change."
WHAT THEY'RE SAYING
"Because we faced our demons in the past, in England you can play your football without racial abuse, and that's not true everywhere. You can also do it with the assurance that when we see signs of any re-emergence of the problem we will stamp on it and take it on, head on."
-- FA and bid chairman, Lord Triesman, playing the racism card with a not-so-subtle attack on European rival Spain, where English players were racially abused by fans during a friendly at Madrid's Bernabeu Stadium in 2004.
A change in plans?
[GULATI WATCH] This week's Leaders in Football in London was a must-attend event for World Cup bidders. Among the Americans on hand were MLS commissioner Don Garber, AEG president Tim Leiweke and, of course, U.S. Soccer president and World Cup bid chairman Sunil Gulati, who drew laughs from the audience with his dig at the beleaguered England World Cup bid.
"The moderator asked me about our World Cup bid and I said, our thinking on the way over here was, we're bidding for both but thinking more about 2022," Gulati told the New York Times. "But with England in trouble, maybe we should be thinking more about '18."
The Havelange influence
[RIO 2016] Six and a half years after FIFA awarded Brazil the 2014 World Cup, the IOC named Rio de Janeiro as host of the 2016 Summer Olympics. Brazil has sure come a long way in the last two decades. Leading up to the 1988 FIFA executive committee vote, Brazilian Joao Havelange, then-FIFA president, no so subtly championed the USA's bid for the 1994 World Cup in competition with Brazil's bid. (Brazil finished third behind the USA and Morocco.)
Havelange, 93, still carries political weight in international circles. He is the longest-serving member of the IOC and worked hard to bring the Olympics to South America for the first time. "I have a dream of seeing history made in 2016 with the first Games in South America," said Havelange, who competed in the Olympics in swimming and water polo 14 years apart and was FIFA president from 1974 to 1998. "I invite you all in 2016 to my city in new Brazil for my 100th birthday." Havelange is said to have personally received the support from 20 of the 26 IOC committee members who voted for Rio in the all-important first ballot.
The solar bid
[QATAR] What lessons can be learned from the IOC vote for Rio and its rejection of the Chicago candidacy? What impact could it have on the USA's chances for 2018 or 2022? Rio's winning argument was that being awarded the Olympics would bring the international competition to South America for the first time. If that line of reasoning is applied to the 2018/2022 bids, the country with the strongest case is Qatar (though you'll get an argument from Australia). A Qatari World Cup would bring the World Cup to the Middle East for the first time.
Qatar's bid has one huge obstacle: the heat. Hassan al Thawadi, the head of the Qatari bid committee, has ruled out the possibility of constructing indoor stadiums but suggested solar energy could be used to provide energy for cooling equipment. "We would not enter anything without thinking we could win it," he told the National. "We are dedicated to this and believe we have a good chance. This is the right time to show what we can offer in uniting western and eastern cultures, but more importantly leaving legacies for the future generations, including creating a greater understanding of the Middle East for the rest of the world. One of the challenges everyone has got in their mind is the question of the weather. We believe we can change perceptions on this point."
Back to Yokohama?
[JAPAN] Tokyo's failure to secure the 2016 Summer Olympics was initially viewed as the death knell for Japan's 2018/2022 World Cup bid. The Japan Football Association had initially indicated that its bid was contingent on Tokyo winning because it was hoping plans would go forward for the construction of a 100,000-seat Olympic stadium in Tokyo that could be used for the World Cup.
One of the requirements for the 2018/2022 World Cups is that the host country have at least one stadium with a minimum capacity of 80,000 seats. Japan's largest soccer stadium is the 72,000-seat Nissan Stadium in Yokohama, site of the 2002 World Cup final. FIFA president Sepp Blatter gave Japan a reprieve last week, however, saying that Nissan Stadium could host the 2018 or 2022 final.
[RUSSIA] The USA has the support of President Barack Obama, and Russia now has the blessing of President Vladimir Putin. On the eve of the decisive Germany-Russia World Cup 2010 qualifier, Russia formally launched its World Cup 2018/2022 World Cup bid with words of support from Putin.
The Russian bid includes 15 stadium in 14 cities: Northern Cluster (St. Petersburg, Kaliningrad), Central Cluster (Moscow, Podolsk), Southern Cluster (Krasnodar, Rostov-on-Don, Sochi), Volga Cluster (Kazan, Nizhny Novgorod, Yaroslavl, Samara, Volgograd, Saransk) and East of Ural (Yekaterinburg).