So with the voting scheduled to begin around 8 AM Eastern, maybe a quick review of the process is in order.
A brief note: If you've got the time and haven't seen them yet, the presentations from yesterday - Australia, Korea, Qatar, USA and Japan, in that order - are available HERE. The US presentation is remarkably good (and to ESPN, who have been replaying a brief clip of the part when Morgan Freeman discovers he's missing a page of his speech and having a good chuckle - screw you) but I warn you: you may come away with a whole new level of respect for Landon Donovan. He was superb.
This morning began with Benelux minus one, followed by Spain and Portugal, England and Russia.
For England, Prince William, as titular head of the FA and a glamorpuss of the first order, received a special round of applause requested by Sepp Blatter who see himself as royalty anyway.
Let it be noted in passing that two members of the LA Freakin Galaxy of Major League Soccer figured very prominently in the proceedings, which is two more than - well, than any other club in the world.
Let the Euro snobs suck on that one.
In the "All's Fair in Love and War" department, the Spain/Portugal presentation included this impassioned backdoor slap at England from Spains' Angel Villar Llona:
"I love FIFA dearly but those I love the most are my colleagues in the ExCo"
"Recently we have been criticized by many media outlets. Unfortunately for them FIFA is a clean institution.
"You have already heard enough slander in the media, the bidding process is clean regardless of what they say."
The Russians at least had the decency to say mean things behind Englands' back, with Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov telling reporters in Moscow "We stand for world sport developing according to its own laws, independent of the political environment; and it should especially not be subject to intrigue and blackmail."
There's no word on whether everyone was able to keep a straight face while listening to a top Russian government official complaining about "intrigue".
Then we had Vladimir Putin, Russias' Thug-in-Chief, who was so offended, so utterly appalled by the shenanigans that he couldn't gin up the strength to attend, telling the cabinet on Wednesday:
Of course, I would very much like to go to Zurich myself and personally present our bid. However, under the circumstances, I believe that I should refrain from attending out of respect for the FIFA members, out of respect for members of the FIFA Executive Committee, in order to give them an opportunity to make an unbiased decision calmly and without any outside pressure. "
(Pause for barfing and wretching)
So here's how it will go:
At around 8 AM Eastern the ExCo will assemble - picture the mob boss sitdown in The Godfather with Sepp Blatter as Don Barzini - and the voting for 2018 will commence.
The winners must receive an absolute majority (12) in order to win, with Blatter breaking ties. If no bidder receives 12 votes on the first ballot, the bidder with the lowest number is disqualified and they will re-vote.
(If two bidders are tied for last, a vote will be held between those two to determine which one will go on to the next ballot)
The interesting thing is that, per the rules which were announced just last month, the vote counts for each round will not be announced to the members. The only thing they will be told is where each bidder ranked.
(FIFA GenSec Jerome Valcke and an assistant will count the ballots in private; not even Blatter will know the numbers)
Evidently they don't want the bidders to know who has been lying to them in private all these months, and you can bet there's been a good bit of that.
If they get a tie at 11 Blatter will be privately asked to vote.
When a majority is reached for 2018 they will begin again with the 2022 bids.
Let the fun begin.