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Will Tidey - FIFA get ready to play God for World Cups 2018 and 2022

Published: 02 Dec 2010 - 07:21:41

This afternoon the most lucrative reality show on the planet will announce its winners in a live televised final. World Cups 2018 and 2022 will find a home, and the rounds of increasingly desperate PR and celebrity top trumps will finally come to an end.

But despite blanket coverage and analysis from every possible angle, nobody outside FIFA can say for sure who will win.

The bookmakers have Russia favourites for 2018, with England second and Spain/Portugal third. Victory for the Holland/Belgium bid would represent a major shock, but it's not completely out of the question.

As for 2022, Qatar are the frontrunners. If their bid is seen as too risky, the United States are ready to step up and host their second finals - an option that will appeal greatly to sponsors and investors alike. Australia looks an outsider, and it's hard to imagine FIFA returning the World Cup to Japan and South Korea just 20 years after they held it last.

What we do know is this. The triumphant host nations will talk of injecting millions into their economies, boosting their tourism industry and hosting 'the best finals' in history.

They will also have bowed considerably to FIFA's demands. Sepp Blatter's empire will be invited to set up a tax-free state within their borders and given a license to sell the world's biggest sporting event to the highest bidder. Laws could be changed to facilitate FIFA's wont, and football's governing body will be disappointed if they don't make over £1 billion from the tournament.

So, back to today's voting process. Here's how it will play out for England's bid.

There are 22 members on the FIFA executive committee and all will vote for one of the four potential hosts in the first round (England, Russia, Holland/Belgium, Spain/Portugal). At this stage one of the bids will be knocked out of the running. The smart money is on this being Holland/Belgium, but there are fears in some quarters England could perish at the first hurdle.

Three of the bids then move on to round two, where another will be knocked out. And then to round three, where three will become two. In the final round of voting the winning bid needs to secure a majority of 12 of the 22 votes for victory.

The process is impossible to predict for the first round, let alone beyond it, but most experts would suggest England arrive in Zurich as underdogs with a fighting chance. You may remember a similar stance heading into the vote for the 2012 Olympics.

From a rational perspective, the fight for 2018 should come down to England v Russia. In Russia's armory is the fact they've never hosted a finals, and the enormous positive impact a World Cup could have on developing the creaking foundations of the game in a nation of such global significance.

England's bid is based on preparedness, history and the cultural standing of the game in this country.

Worrying as it may seem, the hopes of a nation are in the hands of FIFA and at the mercy of myriad complex motivations and political leanings. May the best bid win? Let's hope so.

Ultimately it's a ridiculous process that lacks transparency and is at the mercy of corruption. But you get the feeling if England wins 2018 all will be forgiven.

DSG


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FOOTBALL.CO.UK BLOGGER:Will Tidey
Will Tidey writes on sport for CNN, Eurosport-Yahoo! and Bleacher Report, amongst others. His first book, 'Life with Sir Alex', an account of Sir Alex Ferguson's 25-year reign at Manchester United, is set for release in October this year. Pre-order it now at http://tinyurl.com/6xzl62b. And follow Will on Twitter here - www.twitter.com/willtidey

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