The Welsh Gull

Torquay United, the Football League and other stuff

England’s 2018/22 World Cup rivals

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So the FA have announced the stadia they are forwarding to FIFA. Instead of choosing a definitive list of grounds that will definitely host matches, they have drawn up a long list with a decision being taken later on. This has allowed them to pick a significant portion of the stadiums nominated. London have for instance been given 3 spots but there is no guarantee they’ll get all 3. Derby, Hull and Leicester have all missed out altogether, whilst Hillsborough has been preferred to Bramall Lane for Sheffield’s spot.

But what of the other countries bidding? The British media has largely ignored the alternatives, seemingly presuming England will win. If you asked 100 people on the streets, I should think only a handful would know any of the other countries bidding for the 2018 and 2022 World Cups. Including England, there are 10 bids, with 3 of those just bidding for 2022. It’s worth remembering, though, that most will only get one shot, as due to the FIFA’s policy of sharing the tournaments around to different continents, only one tournament will go to a UEFA nation and one will go to an AFC nation or the USA, the only CONCACAF nation applying. It is likely that the 2018 will go to a UEFA nation, as the countries to have only bidded for 2022 are AFC members and it’ll be 12 years since the previous European World Cup, hence the concentration of the English bid on 2018.

Mexico also initially submitted a bid, attempting to become the first country to hold the World Cup for the third time, but they withdrew in September. CAF nations were ineligible for 2018 and none have bidded for 2022, whilst CONMEBOL nations are ineligible for both.

2018 and 2022 Bids:

Australia (AFC)
The Land Down Under has recent pedigree for hosting major international events, having hosted the 2000 Olympics, 2003 Rugby World Cup and 2006 Commonwealth Games, so it has plenty of top quality stadia to host matches. The A-League, Australia’s main national club league, is also growing in popularity. Potential stadia on the FFA’s wishlist includes:

– Melbourne Cricket Ground (100,000) – Melbourne, VIC
– Stadium Australia, aka ANZ Stadium (83,500) – Sydney, VIC
– Docklands Stadium, aka Etihad Stadium (53,359) – Melbourne, VIC
– Lang Park, aka Suncorp Stadium (52,500) – Brisbane, QL
– Sydney Football Stadium (45,500) – Sydney, VIC
– Adelaide Oval (33,597 – expansion to 50,000) – Adelaide, SA
– Newcastle International Sports Centre, aka EnergyAustralia Stadium (26,164 – expansion to 40,000+) – Newcastle, NSW
– Carrara Stadium (25,000 – expansion to 40-50,000) – Gold Coast, QL
– Willows Sports Complex, aka Dairy Farmers Stadium (26,000 – expansion to 40,000+) – Townsville, QL
– Canberra Stadium (25,011 – expansion to 40,000+) – Canberra, ACT
– Parramatta Stadium (21,487 – expansion to 40,000+) – Parramatta, NSW
– WACA Ground (24,500 – expansion to 40,000+) – Perth, WA

Australia’s bid’s main strength is that the bid is focusing around stadiums that are already there and wouldn’t need a huge amount of work to make them adequate venues. This will prevent the construction of enormous white elephant stadiums that will cost millions to build and maintain but not be used after the tournament is finished, as in Japan, South Korea and, potentially, South Africa. The necessary infrastructure is in place already as well as they are used to holding big events. But is the enthusiasm there? Australia is not a traditional football country. Nonetheless, it is my preferred candidate out of the AFC countries bidding. But maybe I’m biased

Belgium/Netherlands (UEFA)
Although FIFA have stated their lack of desire for joint bids after 2002, they are open to the possibility of joint bids like this one, where both nations are geographically adjacent to each other. Belgium and the Netherlands are also quite close politically, and are too small to host the tournament on their own, so this bid makes sense. They’ve also jointly hosted a tournament before as well, namely Euro 2000, which gives them an advantage as their infrastructure is relatively up-to-date. The shortlist of locations that have been nominated by the bid and what I presume the potential stadia in those locations are:

– Antwerp – Bosuilstadion/Olympisch Stadion
– Bruges – Jan Breydel Stadium*
– Brussels – King Baudouin Stadium*/New National Stadium
– Charleroi – Stade du Pays de Charleroi*
– Genk – Fenix Stadion
– Ghent – Arteveldestadion (new built – to be completed in 2010)
– Liege – Stade Maurice Dufrasne*
– Amsterdam – Amsterdam Arena*
– Amsterdam – Olympisch Stadion/New Stadium
– Eindhoven – PSV Stadion, aka Philips Stadion*
– Enschede – Arke Stadion (De Grolsch Veste)
– Heerenveen – Abe Lenstra Stadion
– Rotterdam – De Nieuwe Kuip (new stadium – likely venue of the Final)
– Rotterdam – Sparta Stadion Het Kasteel

* – Euro 2000 venues
NB – no decision has yet been taken on whether or not to build a new stadium in Brussels. The current stadium, formerly the Heysel Stadium, was extensively upgraded in the 1990s but it needs more upgrading to reach the World Cup standard. Options on the table include building a new stadium in Schaerbeek, a completely rebuilt stadium on the KBS or an upgraded KBS

Despite the advantage of having hosted a major recent tournament, that doesn’t mean it’s all plain sailing. The vast majority of stadiums listed above, including nearly all the stadiums from Euro 2000, will need to be expanded or new stadia built (hence why I’ve not listed capacities), which will mean a far greater cost than some of the rival bids. This is because most fall under the 40,000 seater limit. Also, until De Nieuwe Kuip is built, there is no stadium big enough to host the Final. This will cost more than a fair few pennies, although this can be shared between 2 countries. Just goes to show that the World Cup is in a different league to the Euros – someone should let the Spanish team know that…

Indonesia (AFC) – 2022 only
Believe it or not, Indonesia do actually have some football heritage, having been the first Asian team to make it to the World Cup in 1938 as the Dutch East Indies. However, they haven’t qualified since, and are one of Asia’s smaller footballing powers – if you think South Africa have a poor team for a host nation, you should wait and see what Indonesia could do. But there’s a lot of money floating around there and they’ve put forward an impressive list of stadia:

– Bung Karno Stadium (88,083) – Jakarta
– Rumbai Stadium (70,000 – under construction) – Pekanbaru
– Gedebage Stadium (70,000 – under construction) – Bandung
– Palaran Stadium (60,000) – Samarinda
– Tenggarong Stadium (60,000 – under construction) – Tenggarong
– Jakarta BMW Stadium (±60,000 – under construction) – North Jakarta
– Gelora Sriwijaya, aka Jakabaring Stadium (55,000) – Palembang
– Lagaligo Stadium (55,000) – Palopo
– Bogor Stadium (±50,000 – under construction) – Bogor
– Maguwoharjo Stadium (40-50,000 – undergoing expansion) – Sleman
– Jalak Harupat Soreang Stadium (40,000) – Soreang
– Tangerang Stadium (40,000+ – proposed) – Tangerang
– Medan Stadium (40,000+ – proposed) – Medan
– Bali Wangi Stadium (40,000+ – proposed) – Gianyar

This is actually a deceptively strong bid. The list of stadia is very good, with plenty of modern venues that meet all the standards and only 3 on the shortlist that are just proposed and not under construction or already completed – even the Netherlands/Belgium bid can’t match this. Plus there is plenty of new market potential. I wouldn’t begrudge them if they took it but their lack of heritage could hinder them against the other Asian nations

Japan (AFC)
It looks as if Japan are going to go up against their partners from 2002 to bid for the sole rights for the World Cup 20 years after the first in Asia. And why not? Of all the AFC nations, it is probably at the top for football heritage, and its certainly a big enough country to go it alone – one retrospectively wonders why they didn’t bid alone last time. Certainly the likelihood of 2022 being a largely Asian clash will play into their hands a bit, and they’ve also successfully won the right to host the 2019 Rugby World Cup. But there are a few cons – although it will be 20 years by the time 2022 comes around, it will still only be 8 years by the time the decision is made, and with countries like Indonesia bidding for the first time, it may be a drawback. Plus there is also the lukewarm reception the tournament got in 2002 – the South Korean fans were generally perceived to have been much more welcoming and passionate about it than the Japanese. And there is also the self-acknowledged setback of not winning the 2016 Olympics, as the proposed new Olympic stadium would have been the venue for the Final

Japanese venues in 2002 were:

– International Stadium (70,000) – Yokohama
– Saitama Stadium (63,700) – Saitama
– Shizuoka Stadium (50,889) – Fukuroi
– Nagai Stadium (50,000) – Osaka
– Miyagi Stadium (49,000) – Rifu
– Oita Stadium (40,000) – Oita
– Niigata Stadium (42,300) – Niigata
– Kashima Stadium (42,000) – Kashima
– Kobe Wing Stadium (42,000) – Kobe
– Sapporo Dome (42,000) – Sapporo

Other Japanese stadia (not including stadiums outside Japan) included in the 2019 RWC bid are:

– Olympic Stadium (57,000) – Tokyo
– Toyota Stadium (45,000) – Toyota
– Chichibunomiya Rugby Stadium (27,188) – Tokyo
– Hakata no mori Stadium (22,563) – Fukuoka
– Sendai Stadium (19.694) – Sendai

A generally strong set of stadia, then – mostly modern and plenty over the 40,000 threshold. But, crucially, none over 80,000 to host the Final. The bid needs a standout centrepiece venue – the tournament has now outgrown the International Stadium in Yokohama, the venue for the Final 7 years ago. Other than that, you’d have to say Japan have a potentially strong bid

Portugal/Spain (UEFA)
Another joint bid, but this one looks slightly more flawed. Sepp Blatter has stated in the past that joint-bidding nations would have to be too small to host alone. Spain has already hosted the World Cup alone, and Portugal is a pretty big country too, so expect this to count against them. But putting that aside, it’s up there with the best. Portugal hosted Euro 2004 so they are pretty much sorted on the stadia front, whilst Spain have one of the biggest leagues in Europe and some pretty big clubs with their own massive stadiums. The list of 24 candidate cities (they are at the same stage that England were at until this week), with 20 from Spain and 4 from Portugal, is very strong – the 4 from Portugal are highly likely to get in, with 8 Spanish cities joining them. The potential Spanish venues are:

– Riazor (35,000 – expansion) – A Coruna
– Nuevo Rico Perez (40,000 – new stadium) – Alicante
– Nuevo Estadio (45,000 – new stadium) – Badajoz
– Camp Nou (100,000 – renovation) – Barcelona
– Nuevo San Mames (55,000 – new stadium) – Bilbao
– Estadio Manuel Martinez Valero (38,750 – exp/ren)/New Stadium – Elche
– El Molinon (26,000 – expansion) – Gijon
– New Stadium (40,000+) – Girona
– Santiago Bernabeu (80,000) – Madrid
– Le Peineta (20,000 – expansion to 70,000) – Madrid
– La Rosaled (35,000 – expansion) – Malaga
– Nueva Condomina (33,000 – expansion) – Murcia
– Nuevo Carlos Tartiere (30,000 – expansion) – Oviedo
– El Helmantico (17,341 – expansion) – Salamanca
– Estadio Anoeta (32,046 – reconstruction) – San Sebastian
– El Sardinero (22,271 – reconstruction) – Santander
– La Cartuja (60,000) – Sevilla
– Ramon Sanchez Pizjuan (60,000 – renovation) – Sevilla
– Manuel Ruiz de Lopera (50,000 – renovation) – Sevilla
– Nou Mestalla (75,000 – new stadium) – Valencia
– Estadio Jose Zorrilla (26,512 – expansion) – Valladolid
– Estadio Balaidos (31,800 – expansion to 42,381) – Vigo
– Nueva Romareda (40,000 – new stadium) – Zaragoza

Now you’d think that Spain could probably put a decent enough bid in on its own with that selection – many of these are modern build stadiums that only need an expansion of capacity. In that sense, its much like in England where many clubs have built new grounds that aren’t quite up to the 40,000 limit. A number of the proposals are planned to go ahead regardless of whether or not the bid succeeds. Spain also has 2 of the most famous stadiums in Europe, the Camp Nou/Nou Camp and the Bernabeu, home of 2 of the greatest clubs in the world. But we must not forget Portugal:

– Estadio Municipal de Braga (30,000 – expansion) – Braga
– Estadio do Algarve (30,000 – expansion) – Faro
– Estadio Jose Alvalade (50,000) – Lisbon
– Estadio da Luz (65,000) – Lisbon
– Estadio do Dragao (50,000) – Porto

All 5 hosted matches in Euro 2004, although the Algarve and Braga stadiums will need expansion due to their small capacities. Even so, they still have the necessary infrastructure, which cannot be forgotten when taking things into consideration. But the fact that it is a joint bid, when certainly Spain could do it all, is a drawback. It’s a shame, because with all the politicking going on behind the English bid, they would’ve been in a great position to win it

Qatar (AFC) – 2022 only
OK, this is where we grind to a halt. Qatar is not a footballing country. They have never qualified for the World Cup and they have no football history. They just have a lot of money to throw at some massive white elephant arenas. So they could well win it. There aren’t many details available so we can only assume that the rich sheikhs are going to spend billions creating enormous stadiums they’ll never fill. The largest stadium in Qatar right now is the 50,000-capacity Khalifa Stadium in Doha. Sorry for the cynicism and bias but if this bid wins, then the World Cup really is on the downhill…

Russia (UEFA)
The Russians are probably England’s main rival for 2018. They have never held the World Cup before but have a strong football heritage and a quality set of stadia. And you know they’ll probably get it done, no questions asked. I can see it being quite an attractive bid for FIFA, breaking new ground but in a more traditional country, but the cities do cover 9 time zones. The venues nominated are:

– New Stadium (40,000+ – proposed) – Kaliningrad
– New Zenit Stadium (62,000 – under construction) – St Petersburg
– Luzhniki Stadium (78,360 – expansion) – Moscow
– CSKA Moscow Stadium (30,000 – under construction, further expansion) – Moscow
– Spartak Stadium (42,000 – under construction) – Moscow
– New Stadium (40,000+ – proposed) – Podolsk
– 2013 University Games Stadium (45,000 – under construction) – Kazan
– New Stadium (40,000 – proposed) – Nizhny Novgorod
– New Stadium (40,000+ – proposed) – Yaroslavl
– New Stadium (40,000+ – proposed) – Samara
– New Stadium (40,000+ – proposed) – Volgograd
– New Stadium (40,000+ – proposed) – Saransk
– New Stadium (40,000+ – proposed) – Krasnodar
– New Stadium (40,000+ – proposed) – Rostov-on-Don
– Olympic Stadium (40,000 – under construction) – Sochi
– New Stadium (40,000+ – proposed) – Yekaterinburg

As you can see, there are a lot of new stadia to be built, a potential drawback in terms of cost but it will mean plenty of modern stadia. A lot of Russian football stadiums, especially those outside the big cities of Moscow and St Petersburg, are now out-of-date so new ones are needed. Most of the cities listed have leading football teams so they aren’t necessarily going to be white elephants. Some, as you can see, are under construction already – 2 of the 4 big Moscow clubs have decided to build new stadiums having spent some time ground-sharing – Spartak with Torpedo in the Luzhniki and CSKA with Dynamo in the Dynamo Stadium. The Luzhniki itself is the main centrepiece venue of this, being an Elite venue already with a planned expansion if the bid wins. It hosted the all-English 2008 Champions League Final with a grass pitch but usually it has a unique artificial surface due to the cold winter climate, so potentially it could be the first World Cup Final venue with an artificial pitch…

South Korea (AFC) – 2022 only
If Japan are to be disadvantaged by bidding again, then so too will the Koreans. But unlike them, they made a big impact in 2002, with the passionate fans (and not to mention Guus Hiddink) helping the team to a remarkable 4th place finish. Bidding alone is a different matter to the joint bid and I wonder if they have the power to pull it off. Like Japan, it doesn’t have an 80,000+ capacity stadium but no doubt one can be expanded, presumably the stadium in Seoul which hosted the opening ceremony in 2002, followed by the extraordinary game between France and Senegal. There is no definitive stadium list so here are the 10 stadiums from 2002 which would surely go some way towards any list of venues for South Korea 2022:

– Daegu Stadium (68,014) – Daegu
– Seoul World Cup Stadium (64,677) – Seoul
– Asiad Main Stadium (53,864) – Busan
– Incheon Munhak Stadium (50,256) – Incheon
– Munsu Cup Stadium (43,550) – Ulsan
– Suwon World Cup Stadium (43,288) – Suwon
– Guus Hiddink Stadium (40,245) – Gwangju
– Jeonju World Cup Stadium (42,477) – Jeonju
– Jeju World Cup Stadium (35,657 – 2002 temp capacity of 42,256) – Seogwipo
– Daejeon World Cup Stadium (40,535) – Daejeon

To round it up to 12, here are the 2 other stadia in the top 12 by capacity that would probably also be included:

– Olympic Stadium (69,950) – Seoul
– Goyang Stadium (41,311) – Goyang

Although the Olympic Stadium was built for the 1988 Games, the Goyang Stadium is a post-World Cup construction, opening in 2003. There are also a number of other reasonably-sized stadiums in South Korea which could conceivably be expanded – 2022 is a long time away and maybe stadium design will have moved on by then. But otherwise, it’s a strong bid, although I wouldn’t bet on them. The competition is strong

Yes, that old chestnut again. Was 1994 a failure or was it a success? Who can tell? It had the highest attendance of any World Cup thus far but it had some of the biggest stadiums so that is understandable. What I can tell you is that soccer is gaining in popularity in the States, with David Beckham spearheading the MLS. The cynical Europeans will no doubt question why the USA should get another World Cup given that many were sceptical that they should get one in the first place and it never really had a major impact like FIFA hoped it would. But there we are. It would be something to savour if the last one’s anything to go by – Diana Ross and all that. As for now, many of the 1994 venues are candidates once – they superficially look outdated by European standards but you know that in the US, they have their own high standards which will be more than satisfactory. Not to mention the fact that the capacities are enormous. Plus there are plenty of new stadiums going up all the time – the Giants Stadium, a 1994 venue and home to both New York NFL teams and the New York Red Bulls soccer team, will soon be demolished and replaced by the brand new Meadowlands Stadium nearby. So stadiums and infrastructure aren’t a problem.

There are currently 32 candidate stadiums in 27 cities (although some cities are close to others) – I’ve included potential non-sponsored names as that is what FIFA will use for the tournament itself:

– Cowboys Stadium (111,000) – Arlington, TX
– Michigan Stadium (108,000 – undergoing expansion) – Ann Arbor, MI
– Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum (93,607) – Los Angeles, CA
– Rose Bowl (92,542)* – Pasadena, CA
– Cotton Bowl (92,200)* – Dallas, TX
– Jack Kent Cooke Stadium, aka FedExField (91,704) – Landover, MD
– The Meadowlands (82,000 – under construction) – East Rutherford, NJ
– Arrowhead Stadium (79,451) – Kansas City, MO
– Jacksonville Municipal Stadium (77,000) – Jacksonville, FL
– Mile High Stadium, aka Invesco Field at Mile High (76,125) – Denver, CO
– Dolphin Stadium (74,916) – Miami, FL
– Carolinas Stadium, aka Bank of America Stadium (73,500) – Charlotte, NC
– Cleveland Browns Stadium (73,200) – Cleveland, OH
– Husky Stadium (72,500 – to undergo renovation) – Seattle, WA
– Foxboro Stadium, aka Gillette Stadium (71,693) – Foxborough, MA
– Reliant Stadium (71,500) – Houston, TX
– Georgia Dome (71,250) – Atlanta, GA
– Ravens Stadium, aka M&T Bank Stadium (71,008) – Baltimore, MD
– Cardinals Stadium, aka University of Phoenix Stadium (71,000) – Glendale, AR
– Jack Murphy Stadium, aka Qualcomm Stadium (70,500) – San Diego, CA
– The Coliseum, aka LP Field (69,143) – Nashville, TN
– St Louis Dome, aka Edward Jones Dome (67,268) – St Louis, MO
– South Philadelphia Sports Complex Stadium, aka Lincoln Financial Field (67,594) – Philadelphia, PA
– Lions Field, aka Ford Field (67,188) – Detroit, MI
– Seahawks Stadium, aka Qwest Field (67,000) – Seattle, WA
– Tampa Community Stadium, aka Raymond James Stadium (65,857) – Tampa, FL
– Citrus Bowl (65,616)* – Orlando, FL
– Indiana Stadium, aka Lucas Oil Stadium (64,200) – Indianapolis, IN
– Oakland-Alameda County Coliseum (63,026) – Oakland, CA
– Soldier Field (61,000)* – Chicago, IL
– Stanford Stadium (50,500)* – Stanford, CA
– RFK Stadium (45,600)* – Washington, DC

* – 1994 venues

If it was all about stadiums, the US could host 4 different World Cups for each corner of the country. But it’s not all about stadiums. The USA has still not become established as a soccer nation and it hasn’t garnered the respect of the people of the football powerhouses of Europe. If the US was to get the World Cup over England, there would probably be uproar here, especially if we have beaten them in next year’s tournament by then. However, I’d say it was more likely that a European nation would get 2018, leaving the US scrap it out with the Asian nations for 2022. And they’ve got a strong case for that year over the likes of Qatar and Indonesia. If it comes down to the US vs Australia, I wouldn’t like to pick a winner

And so to sum up:

Pros: unique modern stadiums; new market; has hosted plenty of big sporting events already
Cons: not a football nation; another southern hemisphere country; extreme time zone

Pros: football heritage; held Euro 2000; central location in Europe
Cons: joint bid; not many adequate stadiums right now; white elephant potential

Pros: football heritage; plenty of stadiums; has held/will hold plenty of big events
Cons: bid hit by political wranglings; behind-the-scenes problems; perceived arrogance (as in 2006 bidding)

Pros: new market potential; stadiums; has held/will hold some big events
Cons: poor infrastructure; little football heritage; white elephant potential

Pros: co-hosted 2002 World Cup; modern country; quality stadia
Cons: co-hosted 2002 World Cup; lukewarm reaction in ’02; missed out on 2016 Olympics so no centrepiece stadium as yet

Pros: football heritage; landmark stadia; Portugal held Euro 2004 and Spain has held big events as well
Cons: joint bid; joint bid; joint bid

Pros: loads ofmoney to throw at stadia;  would be first Arab nation to host the FWC
Cons: no heritage; major white elephant potential; extreme heat;…well, just look at the Bahrain GP, you’ll see

Pros: heritage; loads of new stadiums; never hosted before despite status so could be seen to be “deserving” of a FWC
Cons: vast size; loads of time zones; loads of new stadiums

South Korea
Pros: co-hosted 2002 World Cup; passionate fans; quality stadia
Cons: co-hosted 2002 World Cup; lack of heritage; small country

Pros: loads of enormous adequate stadiums; FIFA still want to break in to American market; it’s CONCACAF’s “turn”
Cons: lack of heritage; high temperatures; who in the US really cares?

My choices
2018: England – because we’re the logical choice, despite the behind-the-scenes arguments
2022: Australia – because it’s a new football market and they know what to do

Who FIFA will choose, I do not know. I can’t see the Bene (without ‘lux’) bid succeeding because it just seems to be too much in what will probably be a short space of time, and it’s a joint bid. The latter goes also for the Iberian bid – Spain could host it themselves and that will count against them, going by Blatter’s comments, although a U-turn wouldn’t be surprising. So that just leaves England and Russia out of the UEFA countries and probably for 2018, and I can see them going for Russia if England get too complacent. As for 2022, it could be any of them. If Warner gets his way, it’ll be the US again. If FIFA are dazzled by the cash, they could go to Qatar. If the Japanese and South Koreans do good presentations and get decent centrepiece stadiums together, they could sneak it. If they fancy somewhere new, they could go for Indonesia. If they have any common sense, they’ll go to Australia. Who knows?


Written by James Bennett

December 19, 2009 at 03:31

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