A free and open World Cup
Sometimes the men in suits get it right and FIFA’s decision to open up the World Cup bidding process is right on the money.
Well, of course, money had a lot to do with the decision, but FIFA’s call to end rotation and give the finals to what they consider the best candidate makes sound footballing and commercial sense.
The only restriction is that countries from the confederations that hosted the previous two tournaments are ineligible.
Therefore the bidding battle to stage the 2018 finals will be a worldwide contest excluding only countries from Africa, who are hosting 2010, and South America, whose bid from Brazil was rubber-stamped on Tuesday. African nations can bid again for 2022, while South America can re-enter the fray in 2026.
FIFA president Sepp Blatter may have many critics, but he’s an astute politician and on Tuesday he as good as admitted FIFA had made a mistake by rotating the bidding process around the continents.
FIFA did not really anticipate that a confederation would only nominate one country like South America did for Brazil. FIFA thought there would be an internal competition, but they were wrong.
The bidding process will become more like the Olympics bidding process now, but there is nothing wrong in that. It creates excitement, generates interest and gives more countries around the world a chance, at least, of hosting the world’s greatest sporting tournament.
Mike Collett, who saw his first World Cup match in England in 1966 and would like to see the tournament return to England in 2018.
PHOTO: October 29, 2007. FIFA’s executive committee has voted unanimously on Monday to end its policy of rotating the hosting of World Cups through its six continental confederations. REUTERS/Michael Buholzer