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Article:2018 or 2022?

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This coming Monday sees an important deadline approaching.  This Monday is the deadline by which international football federations have in order to announce their official interest in bidding to become the hosts of the 2018 and 2022 FIFA World Cup Finals.  The next two World Cups have already been set.  The 2010 tournament will be hosted by South Africa, this is the first time the tournament will come to the African continent.  The 2014 edition will see the World Cup Finals return to Brazil.  The last time the World Cup was held in Brazil was in 1950.  For United States Soccer fans that 1950 tournament was one to remember as the USA upset England 1-0 in a match played at Belo Horizonte.

Speculation is part of the fun of this process so here is a look at the potential hosts for the 21st and 22nd edition of the world's most popular sporting tournament.

Country Confirmed? Last Hosted Domestic League International Experience
Yes Never Australia has the A-League as its top level soccer league.  The league is young, founded in 2004, but seems to have grown some legs.  Soccer however does not sit on top of the sporting world in the Land of Oz.  Rugby Union, cricket and Australian Rules Footy being more popular from my standpoint so the A-League faces challenges with competing sporting interests. Australia has many plusses in that the country has experience in hosting the Olympic Games and the IRB Rugby World Cup.  Infrastructure should not be a huige problem.  FIFA President Sepp Blatter has also previously expressed his desire to see the 2014 and the 2018 World Cups both be held in the Southern Hemisphere.
Yes 1966 The country that gave birth to the World's game offers up an incredibly rich tapestry in their domestic leagues.  The Premier League may arguably be the most popular league in the world. If there is one country that could probably host the World Cup at a drop of a hat it is England.  Many stadiums to choose from and infrastructure is not a problem.  Bringing the World Cup back to the home of the game is an important factor I should think if tradition plays any role in selecting the hosts of these tournaments.  Plus by 2018 it will have been 12 years since the World Cup was held in a European country.
Yes Never The Qatar Stars League is the top level in Qatar.  I often think of this league as one were aging veterans go to cash in one last, huge, time. Being small, I should think, will not help Qatar in their potential bid.  One HUGE positive that Qatar does have is the cash to host the event.  Should the global economy continue in its present downward spiral I would venture to think that some FIFA heads will be willing to listen that cash.
Yes Never The Russian Premier League is the top level of football in the land.  Clubs from Russia have recently begun to win trophies on the continent as well.  So Russian football is climbing the ladder. I do know that Russia has hosted numerous international ice hockey events in the past so there is perhaps some experience there to draw upon.  Many may view this bid as a dark horse but do not count the Russians out especially if some of the rich Russians get behind the bid.
Yes 1994 Major League Soccer is the growing presence of soccer in the USA.  The league continues to grow and add teams after facing contraction in the early 2000s.  The National Team has improved and winning this bid may be the boost to send the American program over the top. Stadia galore in the US and plenty of infrastructure makes the US an attractive spot I should think.  Plus don't forget that the most heavily attended World Cup was the one that the USA hosted in 1994.
No Never Canada really does not have its own domestic league.  Rather, the top Canadian clubs play in either Major League Soccer or the United Soccer Leagues First Division.  Both cases have the majority of thier clubs in the United States. I know that CONCACAF wants the World Cup to return to the region but, I just cannot see Canada being viable.  Although the country did host a successful youth tournament a few years back.
No 1970, 1986 The Primera Division is the strongest top flight in North America.  Mexican futbol has a strong and glory filled past and now has a strong rivalry with the United States to determine the top dog in the region. Mexico has saved the day once before when a failed bid in 1986 from Colombia forced FIFA to find an alternative spot for that tournament.  Plus many Mexican clubs are in the process of contructing new stadia, this will strengthen the Mexican bid should they choose to enter the race.
No Never China has the Chinese Super League and they compete in the highly competitive Asian Confederation.  The league has made big strides in improvement over the last decade.  Infrastructure could be a problem. The success of the recent Summer Olympics demonstrated that the Chinese can host a world class event but all those events mainly took place in and around Beijing.  The World Cup requires venues around the rest of the country, I don't know if those venues exist at the present.
No Never Indonesia does have the Indonesian Super League but I cannot say I am all that familiar with the clubs or the history. When one thinks of countries that have hosted major international sporting events Indonesia does not leap to the front of the list.  FIFA does seem to want to bring the tournament to places where they feel the need to grow the game so perhaps that may help.
No 2002 co-host The J-League is one of the strongest Leagues in the AFC.  The league has been responsible for elevating the level of the Japanese National Team as well.  So Japanese football has much strength to pull upon in the bidding process. Given the fact that they have so recently co-hosted a World Cup I suspect that Japan are a definite long shot.

A few countries have expressed interest in a joint bid.  BENELUX, or Belgium, Netherlands and Luxembourg, have expressed interest and so has Spain and Portugal.  FIFA President Sepp Blatter has been put on the record though that he is not in favor of joint bids as long as viable bids from individual countries are on the table.  Keep in mind though that in 2002 Japan and Korea Republic co-hosted a very successful joint bid.  Given the above list I just cannot see a joint bid being accepted by FIFA.

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