13 countries submitted 11 bids to host the 2018 and the 2022 World Cups this week. I believe it is safe to assume that the 2018 world cup will be headed to Europe, with England lining up as the most likely candidate to land footie’s biggest prize. Their competitors: 2 joint bids – Spain/Portugal and Benelux (without the lux), and Russia. That leaves Indonesia, Australia, Japan, Qatar, Korea, the US and Mexico to duke it out as the hosts of the 2022.
I have nothing against staging a world cup in Asia, but they don’t work for me because it’s hard to get up at 2 am to watch games, much less drink beer and smoke a pack of cigarettes. Yes, back in my smoking days, I would knock out a whole pack of smokes when I watched a Mexico fixture. That’s 20 cigs in 90 minutes. I only needed one match. I do think that Australia will eventually host a world cup, but not until 2026 at the earliest. I selfishly leave Asia out of the equation for 2022.
That leaves the US and Mexico as very viable options. Both countries have a very strong case, and both countries have some pitfalls that will have to be addressed as well. Please understand that I do not favor one bid over another. I would be very happy either way.
Stadiums – The mammoth NFL stadiums will more than likely be sold out, shattering the attendance records that were set in 1994. Very few of the stadia used in 94 will serve as venues in 2022 due to the new stadium revolution that scourged the US over the past two decades.
Mexico has not built many stadiums since the '86 world cup, but by 2022, but there will be new stadiums online in Guadalajara, Monterrey, Torreon, which can go along with the recently built or remodeled stadiums in Aguascalientes, and Pachuca. It will be interesting to see what would be done with the stadiums in Mexico City. The Azteca has been renovated, but it could use another face lift.
I have long been an advocate for a quaint stadium to be built in Cancun now that the Primera has a team down there, and Mexico would do well to build a venue on the Costa Alegre as well. But that lot of concrete that has yet to be poured. Big advantage USA
Logistics – It was hard for foreigners get their visas in 1994. And after 9/11, the process became much more difficult. Even though the world cup was very well attended, we can’t negate the fact that the majority of the fans who supported their national sides already lived in the US. Foreigners would have an easier time getting visas before heading for Mexico, but they do not have the base of fans already built into the population. Once in the country, moving around will be difficult in both countries.
They both have plenty of hotel space. It would make sense for the US to split the country in two halves: 4 groups play east and 4 groups play west to minimize travel expenses for fans. Mexico used home bases for groups for their world cups, but FIFA has gone away from that format. Slight Advantage USA .
Minimizing FIFA headaches – The FMF has control over all the venues and can easily make available 31 training facilities for the visiting sides. If the newer stadia have sold naming rights, those names will be removed like they were for Germany 2006. The USSF will only be able to use their muscle on a handful of venues, and most of the new stadiums in consideration have sold naming rights. It will be difficult for those sponsors to pull their names off the stadiums, but I am sure $omething would be worked out. FIFA has to protect its corporate partners afterall. Advantage Mexico
Intangibles – As successful as USA 94 was, it was played in a vacuum. I went to the Brazil Holland quarterfinals at the Cotton Bowl. I went to the West End the night before so that I could party with the world’s premier partiers: the Dutch and Brazilians. There was a ton to be sure, but not many metroplexers. The late news after the game didn’t mention anything about the game, the atmosphere, nothing. And Dallas was the center of the world for 2 hours. It was as if the US tolerated the world, not hosted it. I know that the folks here on bigsoccer are huge supporters of the sport and I love that y’all are so passionate. But for every one of you, there are 9 Jim Rome’s who only talk soccer when they can diss it. Let’s face it, the ratings on Univision are better than ESPN.
Mexico is a country whose populace gets little soccer ball-shaped corpuscles flowing through their vessels during a world cup. The hype is inescapable during the lead up. The newspapers have their countdown, every television commercial is mundial-themed, and even the novelas thread in a world cup storyline. Mexico City turns into a ghost town when Mexico plays. The country gets a scorching case of world cup fever.
Both countries will have excellent arguments. If it comes down to these two for 2022, FIFA will have to decide what they can live with, and what they can’t live without. As a fan living in Texas, it’s a win-win for me. So, of course, it’ll be Australia. Pinche Sepp.