For now, though, insiders are tipping Russia for 2018. Fifa delights in tapping new markets through World Cups. Russia is a white spot on Europe’s footballing map. It has never hosted a major football tournament. Crucially, it can muster more lobbying might than its rivals. When Vladimir Putin phones asking for your support, you probably say yes. A Russian World Cup would cost a lot, but if Putin wants to spend the money, Russia will.
As for the 2022 World Cup, the most important words spoken in this race came from a country that isn’t even bidding. Wei Di, new head of China’s football federation, said this month: “I think China should apply for the World Cup [of 2026].”
China’s government will make the decision, not Wei Di. But Fifa would love China to bid. If the country signals it will, that would shape the race for 2022. If China gets 2026, no Asian country could stage 2022, because continents cannot host twice running. The only non-Asian bidder for 2022 is the US. So if China wants to bid, the US would surely get 2022.
Cold war rivals vie to stage football’s big event
The Financial Times
July 30, 2010