Archive for December 3rd, 2010

The success of Qatar in winning the right to host the 2022 FIFA World Cup has come at an interesting time for the oil and gas rich state.

In the voting for the 2022 competition, Qatar had stayed consistently ahead of its rivals and eventually beat The United States by 14 votes to 8 in the fourth round.

In the voting it defeated three previous host nations – USA, South Korea and Japan – as well as Australia, the host of the 2000 Olympic Games.

The selection of Qatar follows the FIFA policy of taking the World Cup to new parts of the world and this will be the first World Cup to be held in the Middle East.

In 2006 it successfully hosted the Asian Games, a major multi-sports event in the Asian sporting diary and took the gold medal in the football competition by defeating Iraq in the final.

On 7th January 2011 the match between Qatar and Uzbekistan in the Khalifa Stadium will kick off the AFC Asian Cup in Qatar bringing together the top 16 nations in Asia in three weeks of competition. This is the biggest tournament for national teams in Asia and Qatar has created five first class venues for the event.

The Final takes place in the Khalifa Stadium on 29th January 2011.

The biggest problem in 2022 will be the heat in June and July and cooling systems will be installed in all the stadia used in the Qatar 2022 World Cup but this will not be a problem in January.

Every four years the AFC Asian Cup is the major tournament for national teams in Asia. Qatar will be a highly organised host.

Next month, January 2011, the AFC Asian Cup will be the priority then it will be all eyes on the challenge of 2022.

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Russia fits FIFA’s bill

There is bitter and understandable disappointment among the unsuccessful bidders for the 2018  FIFA World Cup.

The success of the Russian bid surprised its opponents. Spain/ Portugal were convinced they would win in the weeks leading up to the vote while England believed it had made up considerable ground in the last days of lobbying. Although Belgium/ Netherlands were seen by many as the weakest of the four European bids it did have some influential FIFA figures at its head.

On reflection, however, the result was not a surprise considering the way the selection of host nations has been going in recent years.

The UEFA European Football Championship was co-hosted in 2000 by Netherlands and Belgium while in 2004 the host was Portugal. In 2008 the co-hosts were Austria and Switzerland and in 2012 the competition will again have co-hosts in Poland and Ukraine.

With the obvious exception of Netherlands, none of the other hosts or co-hosts from 2000 to 2012 is recognised as being in the top group of European football nations.

UEFA has attempted to widen the scope of its tournament and FIFA took the same approach when it awarded the 2010 FIFA World Cup to South Africa. This was a high risk selection, especially from a security aspect, but the competition was highly successful – apart from the quality of much of the football.

FIFA, and especially the FIFA President, Sepp Blatter, had stated that the tournament must go to Africa and he delivered.

The selection of Russia, therefore, fits in to this strategy by taking the World Cup to eastern Europe while all previous European tournaments have taken place in the west – England, Italy, Spain, Germany and France.

Again it must be seen as a bold and imaginative selection and one which is not without problems and risks. Most of the stadia have still to be constructed and there are major weaknesses in the transport infrastructure which will be necessary to move fans across the vast distances between the Russian venues.

The Russian Government is strongly on board, however, and with the rich revenues from oil and gas available, it is fully expected it will ensure everything is in place for 2018.

Another bold move by FIFA and one which will almost certainly succeed.

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