The FIFA World Cup selection committee decided to take their talents to Russia and Qatar for the 2018 and 2022 tournaments, a surprising move after Vladimir Putin failed to show up to the selection ceremony. Russia was chosen over England, Spain-Portugal and Belgium-Netherlands.
What was even more shocking was the committee’s selection for the 2022 World Cup. Qatar, a small country in the Persian Gulf, was selected over the United States, Australia, Japan and South Korea.
Two of the 24 FIFA executive committee members were excluded from the final vote because of corruptions charges. In the 2018 voting, England only earned two of 22 votes and was eliminated in the first round. In the second round, Russia earned a decisive 13 votes to secure 2018.
"It is a great victory," Russian bid CEO Alexey Sorokin said.
After Australia, Japan and South Korea were eliminated, it came down to the United States and Qatar. The U.S. promised big commercial spoils in a key growth market, while Qatar was a totally untapped market for FIFA.
When it came to be decision time, the entire country of Qatar paused and watched with incredible anticipation. When the envelope finally came out and Qatar was awarded the 2022 World Cup, people started cheering and dancing in the streets.
"We have worked very hard over past two years to get to this point," Sheikh Hamad bin Khalifa Al-Thani, Emir of Qatar said. "Today we celebrate, but tomorrow, the work begins. We acknowledge there is a lot of work for us to do, but we also stand by our promise that we will deliver."
Qatar has been under scrutiny because of their resources and terrible heat conditions, but they assured the committee that it wouldn’t be a problem. They have already vowed to spend $50 billion on new infrastructure upgrades and $4 billion to build nine new stadiums and renovate three others. The plan is to have no stadium be more than an hour from the others.
As for the United States, there’s always 2026.