Wednesday, April 22, 2009

World Cup 2018: England's to Lose

The English media love to trumpet the success of the national side at the slightest hint of good fortune. A solid start in World Cup qualifying? All of the sudden the Three Lions are a contender for the 2010 World Cup title. Never mind the fact that their only appearance in a major final was 43 years ago and they failed to qualify for Euro 08. England are in it to win it!

I figured England's bid for the 2018 World Cup would be met with similar overconfidence. By process of elimination, I see no way England can lose. The '18 World Cup is almost certainly headed to Europe. Until 2010 and 2014, at least one of every two World Cups was held in Europe, so the likelihood that Europe would be left out of hosting three straight tournaments is slim. England's continental competition includes Russia, and joint bids from Spain/Portugal and Holland/Belgium. Given that FIFA is less enthusiastic about joint bids, that leaves England and Russia. I'd say England is a lock.

So why isn't The Times of London counting down the days until kick-off? Apparently Barack Obama has them scared. Perhaps the English media are trying to remain humble, but I doubt even Obama's support can help wrestle this tournament away from England.

I do think the 2022 World Cup, scheduled to be awarded along with the 2018 event next December, is headed to the States. Australia is the only legitimate competition, and given the financial success of the '94 World Cup, FIFA would love to return. The U.S. has already produced a somewhat absurd list of 70 potential venues. ("Live from Fayetteville, Arkansas, it's Angola versus South Korea!") But what the list does show is that the U.S. venues are ready to go. They'll need to wait their turn, however. 2018 is England bound.

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