Some elements tend to confirm that the 2018 World Cup will take place in Europe. Back in January 2010, Sepp Blatter revealed a consensus of opinion among the governing body’s members. Qatar is strongly focusing on hosting the World Cup in 2022. Harold Mayne-Nicholls, the president of the Chilean Football Federation, said that “the country had come a long way since hosting the World Youth Championship in 1995 and noted that football plays a key role in the national masterplan.”
However, Mayne-Nicholls, the leader of the FIFA delegation believes that Qatar, which has a land area of just 11,000 square kilometres and a population of only 1.6 million, could face difficulties in hosting the World Cup. “From an organisational point of view, Qatar has the potential to host an international sporting event such as the Fifa World Cup. But it would pose a number of logistical challenges.”
Mayne-Nicholls pointed out that the only time the sport’s showpiece event has been held in such a small country was for the first edition in Uruguay in 1930, when there were only 13 teams and only three venues were required.
He added: “Nowadays we have 32 teams and the last edition in South Africa [earlier this year] had more than 80,000 accredited people, including 15,000 media and hundreds of thousands of football fans travelling to the host country. Currently, there is not enough accommodation and transportation but you assured us you are prepared to change this and lots of development plans are under way.”
Qatar has committed to spend $42.9 billion on infrastructure improvements between now and 2022 on projects including a high speed rail network and a new international airport and the bid team insisted yesterday that it would be capable of delivering a successful World Cup by the appointed year.
Bid chairman Mohammed bin Hamad bin Khalifa Al Thani said: “We truly believe now is the time. We invite 12 years of preparation, we want to take that on. We want to prove to the world that the Middle East, just like Africa, can be successful at hosting the world’s greatest tournament. Choosing Qatar is not a risky decision, it is a bold decision, it is one you will not, absolutely not, regret.”
On Thursday 16, the Qatar bid presented models of the 12 state-of-the-art stadia which would host matches if the World Cup is awarded to the country.
The country will be spending $4 billion building nine new venues and renovating three others and these would be fitted with carbon-neutral, solar-powered cooling technology to reduce the temperature from about 40 degrees Celsius to 27 degrees Celsius.
On top of that, former superstar Zinedine Zidane is backing up the Qatar bid. He said: “I do support this bid and I am happy to be part of this project to support Qatar and the Middle East in general. This region has the right to host the World Cup, just as it has been in other regions of the world. The World Cup has been to Africa, now it is time for the Middle East.”
The inspection team has now completed its tour of the countries bidding to host the World Cup in 2018 or 2022 and will begin work on compiling a report on its findings for the benefit of the Fifa executive committee, which will decide the hosts in voting in Zurich on December 2.
England, Russia, Netherlands-Belgium, Spain-Portugal and USA are bidding for the 2018 World Cup, which is widely expected to be held in Europe. These countries plus Australia, Japan, Qatar and South Korea are also in the running for the 2022 event.