A delay for Atlanta, U.S. World Cup bids?
Could Atlanta — and the other cities that are part of the U.S. Soccer Federation’s World Cup bid — experience a delay in their aspirations of playing host to World Cup games? Mihir Bose, a veteran British journalist who covers the politics of international sports, asserts at Inside the Games that the Americans might withdraw their proposal for 2018 and focus instead on landing the 2022 World Cup.
Australia has already done this, sensing that FIFA is lined up firmly behind the 2018 World Cup returning to Europe. If the USSF indeed does follow suit, Bose suggests it won’t happen until the fall, when FIFA lays out the process for its December votes for both 2018 and 2022.
And if you think the International Olympic Committee’s ways are murky, mysterious and unaccountable, Bose has some news for you:
“Now you may think this is a trivial issue but it is actually very important. And in the race for 2018 and 2022, it could well prove quite crucial. The decisions made at that meeting will shape the deals which will decide these races.
“For a start FIFA, being FIFA, its voting system is not quite as clearly set out and rigorous as that of the IOC. Recall back when Korea and Japan were bidding for 2002 and it looked as if Korea might win. João Havelange, then President, having promised Japan the competition, just decided there would not be a vote. The result: both countries shared the competition and Havelange justified it by saying it was necessary to save the face of the loser.
“Sepp Blatter, his successor, cannot quite pull of anything like that. In an IOC vote on bidding cities, the IOC member from the country bidding cannot vote until his or her city is eliminated, but there are no such restrictions in FIFA.”
Bose points out that a “deal” between the U.S. and UEFA, the European confederation, likely exists — the U.S. votes for a European venue for 2018 in exchange for European votes for a second American World Cup in 2022. Already such alliances have been in the works, with the back-scratching expected to reach a fever pitch by December. How it will all shake out is anybody’s guess, but since this is the first time two World Cup nations will be decided at one sitting, expect the unexpected in unprecedented fashion:
“In many ways, the USA’s pitch is similar to that of England: after all the excitement of South Africa, a new continent and all that, come back to safety and security, well organised events, that will also be very profitable. And the more problems the South Africans have, in transport, in stewards walking away from sites, the more the attractive USA becomes compared to its 2022 opponents where Qatar is making most of the running.
“At the end of the day, the winners in 2018 and 2002 will depend on deals made after FIFA announces the voting procedure in October. And the Americans will do all the running on this.
“How ironic, the new world will decide which country of the world has 2018. It will show football is like politics after all.”