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Europe Favored To Land '18 World Cup,
While U.S. And Australia Are Keen On '22
Officials from eight of the nine countries bidding to host either the '18 or '22 World Cup "assembled this week at Stamford Bridge" outside London for the two-day "Leaders in Football" conference, which ended Thursday, according to Jonathan Clegg of the WALL STREET JOURNAL. FIFA later this year will select hosts for both tournaments, and U.S. Soccer Federation President Sunil Gulati said, "This is the only time that you're all on a stage together. This is the only head-to-head until (the final vote in Zurich on) Dec. 2. We're making our case." Some bidders, such as Qatar, "spent substantial sums securing a major presence on the exhibition room floor here to showcase its design for a proposed solar-powered outdoor air-conditioned stadium." Another bidder, South Korea, "distributed promotional key-rings and T-shirts." South Africa 2010 World Cup CEO Danny Jordaan: "It's all about building relationships, getting to know those who are going to vote, and understanding their views on world football and what they see as the key issues." While England "made a great play of its profitability, Russia's representative, Alexei Sorokin, attempted to appeal to FIFA's sense of expansionary purpose." Clegg notes the joint Spain-Portugal bid "has been relatively low-key" and at the conference "took the opportunity to stress that the two countries are just as equipped as England to host the event." The Belgium-Holland bid, "considered a long shot, emphasized that its campaign would offer the most compact tournament in history." While Europe is favored to land the '18 World Cup, the race for '22 is "considered to be a shootout between the U.S. and Australia, which was the only bidding nation not to be represented in London." Gulati said of Australia's absence, "I was surprised. In the end, it's 24 people that decide. (But) if that was the only thing that mattered, none of us would do any promotional work, any sponsorship, we wouldn't have any meetings with congresses" (WALL STREET JOURNAL, 10/8).
WHAT'S THE RUSH? Asian Football Confederation President Mohamed Bin Hammam Thursday "criticized the decision to vote on the 2018 and 2022 World Cup hosts at the same time in December." Hammam, one of the 24 FIFA voters, "believes it was a commercial decision to guarantee the revenue coming into the organization for a significant period." He said, "To decide something for 2022 is quite a long time (away). You don't know what will happen in these 12 years. Secondly, I was of the opinion that 2022 should be decided in 2016 ... at that time there could be a different executive committee in place and we have taken away the right of some people who should be in the decision making seats then" (AP, 10/7).