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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