FIFA announced today that Russia and Qatar will play host to the 2018 and 2022 World Cups, respectively. Both countries will be hosting the World Cup for the first time, taking center stage on one of the biggest international spectacles in sports. The 2018 tournament came down to Russia and England, while the United States, among others, lost the 2022 bid to the Middle Eastern nation. 2022 will also mark the first time a Middle Eastern nation hosts the sporting tournament, while 2018 puts the World Cup in Eastern Europe for the first time. Sheikh Mohammed bin Hamad Al-Thani, the son of Qatar’s emir and head of the emirate’s bid team, said “Thank you for believing in change, for expanding the game and for giving Qatar a chance. You will be proud of us – and you will be proud of the Middle East. I promise you this.” FIFA is marking the way towards expansion of their market and furthering development of their reputation on the international scale.
Qatar is an Arab nation, smaller than the state of Connecticut, which has promised state of the art air conditioned stadiums to counter the 130 degree heat in the dead of summer. Presenters for the Qatar bid also promised to dismantle stadiums upon completion and give them to needy nations. The Middle Eastern nation should have no problem with funds for the stadiums, as it is one of the most wealthy countries in the world. Supporters hope to unify one of the most broken nations internationally, however, US supporters wonder what else must be done for the country be able to host another tournament on the international scale. It was the second international loss in the year for the U.S., which was led by former President Bill Clinton during its final presentation Wednesday. Last year, the International Olympic Committee chose Rio de Janeiro over Chicago and others for the 2016 Olympics despite a personal lobbying effort by President Barack Obama. The United States last hosted the tournament in 1994. Their next shot now will not be until 2026, which may pit them against leading nations in Europe where soccer is the staple sport.
The 2018 vote for Russia knocks England out, which hasn’t hosted the competition since 1966 – and they are a powerhouse. The 2014 World Cup will be played in Brazil, as previously announced by FIFA.