Who Will Host World Cups 2018 and 2022?

Who Will Host World Cups 2018 and 2022?


11 candidates have made official bids to host the World Cup in 2018 or 2022.

Nine of the candiates are interested in staging the tournament in either 2018 or 2022, while two are just bidding for 2022.

Those to apply for both were England, Russia, Australia, the USA, Japan, Mexico, Indonesia and joint bids from Portugal-Spain and Netherlands-Belgium. Qatar and South Korea have applied to host the 2022 tournament only.

Who will be hosting the 2018 and 2022 World Cups? There are 11 candidates, but only a handful stand a real chance. Let’s take a closer look.

The Selection Process

Applicants must next submit their bidding agreements by 11 December 2009, with Fifa’s 24-man executive committee choosing the winning candidates in December 2010.

Countries who fail to land the 2018 World Cup able to automatically be a candidate for the 2022 World Cup, provided that the 2018 host is not from the same continent as them.

Successful hosts must meet certain conditions if they are to win the right to stage the World Cup, providing at least 12 stadiums with minimum capacities of 40,000, with the final to be held in a stadium with a capacity of at least 80,000.

Fifa president Sepp Blatter said: “As long as we have single-country bids which provide all the necessary guarantees, we will reject co-hosting bids.”

With South Africa and Brazil to host the 2010 and 2014 competitions respectively, Fifa has said no African countries can bid for the 2018 showpiece while South America must wait until 2026 for the chance to bid again.

Previous Hosts

Of the 18 World Cup tournaments held since 1930, 10 have been staged in Europe, six in Latin America and one each in the United States and Asia.

Of the stand-alone candidates for either tournament, England (1966), Mexico (1970 and 1986) and the USA (1994) have previously hosted a World Cup on their own.
Japan jointly hosted the 2002 World Cup with South Korea, who are candidates for 2022, and Spain, who have submitted a joint application with Portugal, staged the tournament in 1982.

“Not A Chance” Candidates

2002-world-cupJapan – co-hosts with South Korea in 2002 and are also bidding for the 2016 Olympic Games. Japanese Football Association president Motoaki Inukai said: “We will definitely need the success of the 2016 Tokyo Olympics bid. If they don’t win it, it will be physically impossible for us to host the World Cup.” The International Olympic Committee will announce which city will host the 2016 Olympics at a meeting in Copenhagen, Denmark, on the 2 October 2009. Even with the 2016 Olympic Games, having hosted the ’02 World Cup will count against Japan.

South Korea (2022 only) – co-hosts with Japan in 2002 and have the necessary infrastructure and experience to hold the World Cup on their own. However, the fact that they hosted a World Cup just 20 years ago (by the time 2022 rolls around) will count against them, and within Asia as well they have strong rival countries like Australia (football-region-wise Australia is part of AFC), Indonesia, Japan and Qatar looking to host the World Cup themselves.

Netherlands-Belgium – Blatter has said that FIFA are not going to consider joint bids if suitable single hosts are found, and for both 2018 and 2022 there are several strong single-host candidates. In addition they will need to either expand current stadiums or build new ones to meet the 80,000 seater stadium requirements for the final. Netherlands would have a better chance if they went at it alone, but would still face significant opposition.

Qatar (2022 only) – home to AFC chief Mohammed Bin Hammam and rich enough to finance the World Cup, but the weather, the small population and the lack of infrastructure will count against them. There is a good chance that the World Cup will come to the Middle East in the future, and there was a big push at Soccerex 2008 (Dubai) to encourage UAE to make a formal bid for the event, but Qatar doesn’t seem to be the likely location for it.

Having said that, they have experience in hosting major events with 2006 Asian Games and they’re also due to host the Asia Cup in 2011.

Qatar have a better chance than rival bids from Japan and South Korea, but fade out in comparison to much stronger bids from Europe and Australia, not to mention North America.

Unlikely Candidates

Indonesia – they have the big stadium needed for the final, and the country is prepared to invest heavily to build the stadiums needed to get the country ready in time for the big Cup. With due respect though, the questions being raised at South Africa are likely to be raised at Indonesia as well, with issues from politics to weather and fan safety and the negative press surrounding South Africa 2010 will dent Indonesia’s chances.

Problems aside, a World Cup in Indonesia would be a spectacular event were it to happen.

bernabeuPortugal-Spain – Another joint bid but unlike the Netherlands-Belgium bid, Spain and Portugal have the infrastructure and experience to host major events, and would have been the strong European candidate were it not for England’s participation. It could go down to who sides with whom within Europe, and if the joint-bid factor wasn’t an issue, Portugal-Spain would be considered as serious candidates. Spain are expected to return with a single bid if FIFA clearly rejects a joint bid, which would put them forward as serious contenders alongside England for hosts.

Mexico – hosted the World Cup in 1970 and again in 1986 when Colombia could not afford to host it, and having hosted two World Cups could count against them, but they do have an ace in the hole – Jack Warner – who will be fighting tooth and nail to bring the World Cup to the CONCACAF region after seeing to go around the world in the last two decades. Still, with the US also making a bid, as long as they don’t drop out of the race they should be ahead of Mexico in the contender stakes.

Russia – They have the infrastructure and the experience of hosting the 1980 Olympics as well as European cup finals, plus they’ve never hosted the World Cup, but distances between stadia and the lack of support for their bid with Europe will hinder their chances of hosting the big Cup.

Serious Candidates

Australia – some say that England’s strong bid for 2018 and the fact that the World Cup will be played in the southern hemisphere for 2010 and 2014 makes it more likely that Australia’s best chance might be to try for 2022. Regardless of their chances for 2018, Australia make for a strong candidate. They have the political support in Fifa, they have the infrastructure, being a developed economy means they have all the benefits that Fifa would get in hosting the Cup in a major European country, and unlike some of the other strong contenders they’ve never hosted a World Cup before.

worldcup1966logoEngland – The 1966 World Cup hosts (and winners). London 2012 Olympics, the 2014 Commonwealth Games in Glasgow and the 2019 Cricket World Cup in England. Failed World Cup bid for 2006. England are front-runners for the 2018 World Cup but face two problems – one, they have stiff competition from the likes of Australia, and two, they are vulnerable to political influences within FIFA which could lead to England coming close to hosting 2018 or 2022 and lose out on both.

If a European country were to host the 2018 World Cup, England would be disqualified from hosting the 2022 World Cup. Having said that, their biggest rivals for 2018 won’t be European bids but those from the US and Australia.

USA – hosted the 1994 World Cup and normally it would be unlikely for the World Cup to return so quickly to the same country, but there are several factors that make the USA a strong candidate. The first is Jack Warner / CONCACAF – they want a World Cup, and the USA has a better shot at getting it compared to Mexico. The second is the remarkable transformation the local football scene has gone through since the last World Cup 14-15 years ago. The MLS is expanding into a full-fledged league, the WPS starts this year and by the time 2018 and 2022 will come along, ‘soccer’ will have 10 more years of steady growth in the local sports culture.

At the end of the day though, a World Cup in the USA will be a cash cow – the immense hype that will surround a global event in the US (thanks to their own marketing channels but also because of the status the US holds in the world) make it a guaranteed money-maker for all parties involved, more so than any other country hosting the World Cup.


Allowing for the fact that countries may drop out of the race between now and December 2009, when applicants need to submit bidding agreements, and that the two joint bids may turn into single bids, the strongest candidates for 2018 look to be England, Portugal-Spain and Australia. The joint bid makes Portugal-Spain an unknown quantity, and between England and Australia it will come down to backroom politics since CONCACAF has two candidates in the USA and Mexico and they might trade votes for securing the 2022 World Cup in exchange for supporting a rival candidate’s bid for 2018.

England’s biggest problem will be convincing the 24-man executive committee, and unfortunately for them they lack the savvy and backroom political experience to garner enough votes on their side for a decisive outcome. On the merits of the bids alone (infrastructure, single host, security, fan base, last world cup), Australia and then England are the strongest candidates, and in that respect we could see England host 2018 and Australia host 2022. But it’s not going to be on merit alone (if at all), and that’s why England’s chances are more than a little uncertain.

Also See:

FIFA Ensures World Cup Will Be Played In Rich Countries, Forever
Soccerlens Podcast – South Africa 2010

How To Solve A Problem Like Wayne Rooney
Soccerlens Podcast Episode #4, a history of World Cup worries, Guus Hiddink gets a little discombobulated, and more


  1. Well shows you don’t know what you are talking about.

    Firstly Blatters actual quote about joint bids was

    “Countries capable of staging the event alone should do so”

    He has no problem with joint bids from smaller nations as he doesn’t wish to exclude them. He even comfirmed this with the director of the Benelux bid Alain Courtais

    “Sepp Blatter was clear with us. He wants to exclude joint bids by big countries like Japan and Korea in 2002,”

    Secondly there is no Holland-Belgium bid, it’s a Benelux bid. Luxembourg will host certain aspects of the non sporting side.

    Indonesia is a no go

    Mexico are really aiming for 2022

    Russia have experience of holding the 1980 olympics which was erm largely boycotted. Russia are a stronger candidate than you give them credit for due to their wealth and the fact that they are building the stadium infrastructure now and they are European. They are not going to put stadiums east of the ural mountains aka asian russia, so their geography is irrelavant as European russia is a third of the size of the united states and contains 75% of their population.

    The fact that you have put Australia down as a favoured candidate is quite ludicrous. They have no chance on this Earth of getting the world cup over a powerful European nation. They don’t have the infrastructure (10 40,000+ the majority built for football), they have a seriously lack of suitable cities. The fact that it is in the southern Hemisphere isn’t the issue, the fact that Europe won’t stand for missing out on 3 world cups on the trot is.

    Spain are gonna bid on their own for 2022. This is a test bid. They don’t need portugal and will probably be excluded from the ballot. It was a dumb choice inviting them for 2-4 stadiums.

    USA are a candidate for 2022

    This tournament is almost guaranteed to go to Europe and is a straight shootout between these nations. What may happen is a couple drop out, but the african, and south american bid will likely favour europe. I see a straight shoot out between benelux and England with russia as your dark horse.

  2. sorry that came off a little bit rude, it’s just that saying australia have a chance over the benelux bid. FIFA knows it’s in the best interests to go with Europe and it’s all about the money at the end of the day.

    Just to say Spain will drop portugal as soon as they are told to do so. But if the madrid 2016 olympic bid comes off then i doubt they’ll persue this bid.

  3. andrew jennings from transparencyinsport recons its a stitch up by jack warner, and the usa or mexico will end up with a winnign bid at englans expense.

  4. Oh, no I think Australia do have a chance of getting the world cup sometime. They are the highest ranked team in Asia at the moment and I mean, did you think the 2002 World Cup was going to be held in Japan/Korea? They could become the first team to qualify for South Africa if they beat Uzebkistan on Wednesday, so they are certaintly no push overs.

    Don’t rule them out, just yet anyways.

  5. Am I the only on who thinks that Blatters loathing of the English game will prevent the World Cup from going to England? or maybe thats just pessimistic of me…

  6. michael James. Sooo ignorant saying Australia don’t have a chance of getting the world cup, what the do you know? are you part of the decision making process?
    good article

  7. @ jake the mackem your reply was ad hominem you didn’t refute anything i said.

    there is a difference between ignorance and realism, they need at least 10 40,000+ stadiums in at least 9 cities.

    Australia has only 7 cities with a population over 500,000. Population isn’t even the issue, sustainablity is, can hobart sustain a 40,000 seater stadium after the world cup, unlikely.

    You can argue that they can sustain 40,000 if they were oval stadiums, but a lack of pure football stadiums would harm their bid.

    Perth is so isolated, who are you gonna group that city with, for the group phases, whoever is based their would have a massive advantahe.

    And the fact of the matter is, the Australian bid no matter how good, still wouldn’t match up to any of the european bids or north american bids.

  8. Michael,

    Fair points.

    Holland-Belgium (or Benelux), for my money, won’t get the Cup because there are bigger fish on the European front vying for it, namely England and yes, Spain-Portugual. Like I said in the article, if Spain were to go for it on their own, they would be front-runners in Europe.

    It seems that we’re in agreement that it is most likely that the World Cup will go to Europe in 2018? That gives us a choice between Russia, Benelux and England (not counting Spain yet since we don’t know how they’ll play it). Out of that trio, I still contend that England are the strongest candidate.

    If you disagree, let me know why. Also, any chances of sourcing that quote of Blatter’s that you mentioned? I got mine off BBC.

    As for Australia – yes, they’re going to use the oval stadiums for football, how they’ll do it is up to them but as far as I understand it they have the best chance outside Europe / North America to host it, and if the 2018 World Cup goes to Europe, it will go to a different continent in 2022, with leaves it a three-way between Mexico, USA and Australia (the major candidates – Japan / Korea are too soon, Indonesia has very limited chances and Qatar is too small).

    Mexico has hosted 2 World Cups. USA has hosted 1, and that in 1994. Mexico won’t happen in my view, so it’s between the US and Australia, and on the surface of it (and assuming that Australia will modify existing stadiums for the event), the fact that they haven’t hosted a World Cup previously and that US has hosted one in 94 favors Australia.

    It will come down to backroom politics, which is why the US probably has a better chance.

    In retrospect, taking out the ‘previous hosted World Cup’ criteria, the US is a better candidate for a World Cup purely from a monetary perspective – they are masters of sports marketing and making money off sports. Not sure if visa issues at that point in time will make things tougher to go, but that’s another story.

  9. Michael, you’re writing off Australia very quickly. As a country it is a desirable tourist destination and will host the 2015 Asian Cup. Recently the 2006 Commonwealth Games were held in the second city Melbourne, and the 2000 Olympics in Sydney – both very successful. The country is also well regarded globally in comparison to England & US outside of those 2 countries. They would be my dark horse in this race.

    The 2018 WC is England’s to lose in my opinion. USA with stadiums of 80K each minimum is actually a superior bid to England. That said the ’94 tournament was one of the most boring on record, and the heat was a factor – do you remember the water bottles all along the by-line.

  10. Belgium and the Netherlands have proven with Euro 2000 that they can organize a major tournament together without much problems. I think actually Euro 2000 was really a great succes, better then Austria/Switzerland(lack of sphere from hosts), Japan/S. Korea(to many differences between hosts, financial disaster). The 80.000-seater stadiums are coming anyway in Holland. Feyenoord need a new home, and are planning and able to fill a 80k-stadium every week, there are plans to expand the Ajax stadium to 80.000, and there are 9 years left to do that. Holland have a very presentable national team, belgium is also presentable, they got bad results the past years, but I do think they are still equal to the teams of Australia, Japan or the USA.

    But there are also a few problems, mainly in belgium, that country is a mess. Politically they are really divided, in fact they are 2 countries in one. Their footballteam aren’t great either at the moment, having failed to qualify for major tournaments since Euro 2000, and are failing again at the moment. I think this time it is mainly due to their manager, because they do have a good and very young, promising squad. The stadiums in Belgium are old and need maintenance or replacing. and apart from the big stadiums in amsterdam, rotterdam and brussel there are no 50.000 seaters in holland or belgium at the moment. Also as small countries, they do not have great influence in the FIFA.

    I think Holland do deserve to get the WC more then England do, England already has the 2012 London Olympics, and have had an WC in the past (1966, yes it is long ago I know but still…). Also the national team of Holland is at least equal to that of England. As the organisation of a WC works also as major boost to a country’s state of football, I don’t think England need much boost.

    I would really love it if Holland and Belgium get the 2018 WC but I fear England will take it, for reasons I have pointed out above, and because, as a Dutchman, I am a bit biased

  11. First of all I live in Australia so my view is definitely biased.

    In regards to infrastructure, Australia already boasts 9 all seater stadiums which can house more than 40,000 people. Two of which hosted Olympic games and therefore seat more than 80,000 people. Of these 9 stadiums, 2 are rectangular and another is halfway between oval and rectangle (ANZ Stadium). A further rectangle stadium, purpose built for football/soccer is currently being built in Melbourne which can house 31,000 people but can easily be upgraded to seat 50,000.

    In regards to experience hosting major events, like Rory has said Australia will host the Asian Cup in 2015, after already hosting 2 Olympic games and a Commonwealth games.

    In regards to politics, although Australia is know in the AFC, they are geographically located in Oceania, which has never hosted a WC. If Sepp Blatter really wanted to complete the round-the-world hosting of the WC Oceania should be included. Furthermore, the WC would give a big boost to the A League which is in its infancy. Also, the head of the AFC has given his backing for the Australia bid.

    Australia are a great sporting nation, especially considering its population. The Socceroos did so well at the last world cup and only lost to Italy after a dubious penalty. I’d love it if the WC was hosted in Australia.

    C’mon u gooners!!

  12. Also Australian here so once again I might be showing some bias. Michael James, the fact that you think Australia’s chances of getting the World Cup are ludicrous shows your complete ignorance.

    I travelled through Europe and stayed in Germany for long lengths of time during the 2006 WC and I think they put on a fantastic event. However, I have absolutely no doubt that Australia has the ability to organise an even greater event.

    Australia’s track record for hosting massive sporting events such as Olympic Game, Commonwealth Games, Rugby World Cups, Swimming World Champioships and many big annual sporting events such as the Australian Open Grand Slam Tennis and F1 Grand Prix proves that they are more than capable of hosting a WC.

    I agree that Perth’s isolation may be an issue, however the USA also has the same issues with the distances between cities like New York and Los Angeles. And Russia, well let’s not even go there. The logistics required in staging an event across such large distances would be near impossible one would think and it would be a very unplaseant experience for the fans who would want to travel through various parts o the country. Most of the Australian cities earmarked as prospective hosts are closely packed along the east cost, with the exception of Perth on the West Coast.

    In terms of pure sporting enthusiasm I believe Australians are extremely dedicated, however I don’t think anyone could argue that we are as fanatical about soccer compared to the Brits and some of the other Europeans. Nethertheless, there is very strong support and excitement about the potential to hold the games here. And who knows, perhaps competing for the games against our old colonial rulers will fuel that desire to host even more.

    The national soccer league in Australia has also been going from strength to strength and has an ever increasing fan base. Filling up massive stadiums for national soccer hasn’t been an issue in Australia like it has in the USA.

    Having said all that I think they are more likely to get the 2022 world cup considering it would be in the Southern Hemisphere three times in a row if they got it in 2018. In my view, England are the strong favourites for 2018 by many many miles.

  13. well, i know Indonesia seems to be unable to host the world cup, but indonesia is a great country. you know the news tv and those things always exaggerate about everything. well i am and im proud to be indonesian.

  14. and im sure that if indonesia is chosen to be the host for world cup either 2018 or 2022, the government would be very pleased to upgrade all sorts of stuff such as stadiums, security, even the traffic which may be the biggest issues in indonesia.

  15. These are my predictions

    2018 – England – because they have all the infrastructure that is needed, and because the 2 world cups before it will be in the southern Hemisphere

    2022 – Australia – because they are the strongest team in asia, and that football is rapidly growing. They have also never hosted the world cup before, and have hosted the 2000 Olympics, showing that they can handle global events. It is also a very safe and beautiful country, and more fans from around the world will be tempted to the world cup.

  16. I find michaels lack of knowledge on Australian sporting grounds remarkable. Yes we have oval grounds but in NSW and QLD rugby rules the roost, meaning rectangular grounds. Australia fulfill the requirements of FIFA pound-for-pound more than any other serious bid. Yes the USA have the key from a moneytry position but the people simply are not interested in football. England reaches the requirements of FIFA with ease aswell and to satisfy the moneytry side of things and to stage the WC in the northan hemisphere i believe England will get 2018, leaving serious bids from OZ and US, FIFA wont go for the cash twice and looking to expand the game in not only a growing nation of football lovers but also a region where football is increasing in popularity every week Australia will get 2022.

  17. Michael, Michael, Michael…

    It’s a shame to hear you write off the Australian bid when you really don’t have a clue about their stadiums or football habits. For me they are the logical choice in 2022 after England host in 2018.

    To start, I hope that common sense prevails and England are given the rights to 2018. They’re facilities are fantastic and coming off the back of the 2012 Olympics they should have the know-how to work an awsome event. 52 years is a long enough time to wait for a country who lives, eats and dreams football.

    As for Australia I agree that a rectangle stadium may be hard to maintain in Hobart, but what about in places like Geelong, Wollongong, Newcastle, Townsville, Gold Coast, Adelaide, Canberra and Gosford? Most of these places already have rectangular stadiums and established football teams from multiple codes. Some already hold the 40,000 and others could easliy be extended.

    Add to those the likes of Sydney, Melbourne and Brisbane who have hosted Olympics, Rugby world cups and commonwealth games it’s looking pretty good to me. There is talk in Perth of another stadium to host their football and rugby teams. That would make three quality stadiums in the city, perhaps even two world cup teams could make it their base. The ACT government have also released plans for a new stadium in Canberra.

    During the Olympic games, Sydney’s Homebush stadium was featured detachable wings and both sides were built on a slide. It was reduced by several thousand seats following the games and is now the home ground to most of the countries major football games, from all codes. There’s no reason something like that couldn’t happen again.

    1994 was so boring. The Atlanta Olympics were boring. Please, please don’t send it to the USA. If its going to come down to money then surely Qatar is in with a chance too.

  18. This list looks biased towards English speaking countries. To be honest, I would definitely favor Russia’s chances over Australias…

  19. michael James, no offense but you have no idea about the fifa world cup
    you’re saying that australia has no chance because they have a low population and no infrastructure…maybe if you visit australia once in a while you may realise that we have sydney (5 million) and melbourne (4 million) who both have stadiums that fit up to 80,000-100,000
    and since when is population a problem, we held the olympics in 2000 and other events such as world youth day and commonwealth games that hold countries around the world and quote “sydney hae held the best olympic games ever”
    so im pretty sure australia has the ability to hold the olympics along with the fact that they’ve never held them before which is even a greater advantage
    shows how much you know!!!

  20. Australia isn’t even bidding for 2018. They’re only bidding for 2022. Some European country will get 2014, but Australia should get 2022

  21. I am Australian and I hope we dont win the 2022. Can’t stand the bloody game. Additionally, why give it to a nation where the sport isnt the number 1 sport. Isnt this unfair to the European countries that love the game and where it is the no.1 sport?

  22. Go Australia for the 2022 Football World Cup. No nation has done more for football development recently than Australia. Australia is the number one ranked footballing nation in Asia, Football is the number one junior code in Australia and the local league is improving rapidly. It’s also run a massive amount of football/regional development projects in Oceania, Asia and Africa. Australia deserves to host the football world cup and note key words there WORLD CUP!!! I’m not sure why the USA are going for either of these 2 world cups other than to resort to their usual tactics of bullying other nations, when they are almost guaranteed 2026 without any competition. Australia has the infrastructure, the passion and the will to host the biggest event on the planet after all they’ve hosted 2 olympics games, multiple world cups in other sports, commonwealth games, fifa youth cups, Formula 1, Indy cars, Grand Slam tennis tournaments and more Australia is more than ready right here, right now, for 2022!!! Come on Comeplay…www.australiabid.com.au

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