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December 01, 2010

Russia, Qatar Win Bids to Host World Cups in 2018 and 2022

by Parke Brewer

Football's world governing body, FIFA, has selected Russia and Qatar as hosts for the 2018 and 2022 World Cups. The surprising votes by FIFA's executive committee came Thursday in Zurich.


The announcements of the future World Cup hosts came less than 30 minutes apart, with FIFA President Sepp Blatter first announcing the 2018 host.

"The 2018 FIFA World Cup, 2018 FIFA World Cup, ladies and gentleman, will be organized in Russia," said Blatter.

It was a crushing defeat for England which had hoped to stage football's premier event for the first time since 1966. Russia has never hosted a World Cup, nor has any nation in Eastern Europe, and senior English football figures said England's status as an established football power may have contributed to its defeat. Others hinted a critical media may have been to blame. The other losers for 2018 were joint bids from Spain-Portugal and the Netherlands-Belgium.

No country in the Middle East has ever hosted a World Cup, but that has changed, as Blatter opened the second sealed envelope.

"The winner to organize the 2022 World Cup is Qatar," he announced.

That announcement meant for the second time in just over one year that the United States lost out hosting a future major international sporting event. In October of 2009, the U.S. midwest city of Chicago was defeated by Brazil to stage the 2016 Summer Olympics.

Even the presence of former President Bill Clinton on the U.S. World Cup bid committee and likely sell-outs for every game was not enough. Ed Foster-Simeon, president of the U.S. Soccer Foundation, told VOA it was a great disappointment to not win the 2022 bid.

"We felt our bid was extremely compelling," said Foster-Simeon. "The game in the United States has benefitted greatly from the 1994 World Cup and would have benefitted even further from hosting of the 2022 World Cup. The decision didn't go our way this time. We respect that decision."

And U.S. fans like Max Croes, who attended the recent World Cup in South Africa, expressed their disappointment.

"It would have been great to host the World Cup here," said Croes. "There's no doubt that it would have done a lot to continue to grow the sport, grow fans, promote our league - Major League Soccer - and get a lot of new athletes involved in the sport."

Qatar's Ambassador to the United States Ali Al-Hajri told VOA he thinks FIFA made the right decision.

"I think the people of the Middle East deserve to have the tournament and bring the joy to that place [the region]," said Al-Hajri.

This year's World Cup was held in Africa for the first time and the month-long South African tournament was a great success. The 2014 World Cup will be staged in Brazil.