Wednesday, July 19, 2006

Who gets World Cup 2014? Not so fast Brazil.

The action might be switching from Germany to South Africa in the World Cup realm, but the talk is turning towards 2014.

Since March 7, 2003, when FIFA announced that the 2014 World Cup would be held in South America, it has been pretty much assumed that Brazil was finally going to get to play host again. They are the most successful team ever in the Cup, but have only hosted it once in 1950 (and they lost the final 2-1 to Uruguay).

That idea was given a big boost when later in 2003 the South American Football Confederation (CONMEBOL) voted to back Brazil as their only candidate for the 2014 World Cup. However, something has happened on the road to the party in Rio de Janeiro.

Soccer icon Pele warned his country about the cost of hosting such an event, saying, 'We cannot sacrifice people.' He added that a World Cup in Brazil is only tenable if it is financed privately and not by the state.

Brazil might play some of the best soccer on the planet, but their stadiums are not up to World Cup standards. The poor stadiums caused one fan to say, "Our so-called stars are making millions abroad, are a joke at the World Cup while we have so suffer in stadiums which don't even have a toilet. A World Cup in Brazil? That's a joke."

In all, the country would need to build 10 to 12 new stadiums to host the games, plus they would need to improve their infrastructure. Any country would be hard pressed to make so much happen in a such a short period.

With this in mind, Colombia's Vice President, Francisco Santos, told the world yesterday that his country is ready to host the cup. Santos was echoing comments made by President Alvaro Uribe this past weekend. Colombia's sudden interest has caught many off guard including the future President of the Colombian Football Federation Luis Bedoya.

Santos said, "We have to think big. We have to put aside childish things, not only for 2014, but also 2010. We have good players and we want to find a manager who believes in our young players, so we can put together a long-term project." However, late on Tuesday, Bedoya told the media that Columbia is a long way from being ready to host the 2014 Cup. He also added that any bid would have to go through the Federation and as of yesterday, no such bid had been port fourth.

One other problem for Colombia, they are the only nation to be awarded the Cup only to have to back out. The were suppose to host in 1986, but announced in 1982 that they could not handle the financial burden. Mexico, who also hosted in 1970, was chosen as a replacement.

However, Colombia is not the only nation looking to put some pressure on Brazil as Australia is showing interest and getting the games. Last time I checked, Australia was not part of South America, but I guess since they beat Uruguay to make it to Germany, thus claiming the .5 of a spot from South America, they feel it is their right.

The bid idea has got the support of three of the country's six states as well as Prime Minister John Howard. The biggest roadblock the country might face, besides the fact that FIFA has already said 2014 will be in South America, is their current confederation. Asia hosted the Cup in 2002, so FIFA might not want to see it return to them so soon. However, with soccer finally braking through, FIFA might want to use the Cup to give it a final push to make it rival rugby as the national sport.

All this talk was made possible by FIFA president Joseph Blatter warning Brazil not to become complacent in their 2014 bid. But Brazil has a fantastic opportunity to prove their skeptics wrong as they will host the 2007 Pan American Games in Rio de Janeiro. Unless they fail in 2007, they will probably be awarded the 2014 World Cup in 2008.

By the way, as I was researching all this, I came across two interesting articles. First, this BBC article from 2002 about the US wanting to host the 2014 Cup to celebrate the 20th anniversary since the first time we played host. The other article is from Sports Illustrated and talks about Iraq and Jordan making a joint bid to hold the event. This article is from 2004 and the title suggests a bid for 2014, but the article talks more about 2018.

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Blogger Nick and Dan said...

Colombia would be nice if there wasn't a massive drug war occuring and foreigners weren't getting abducted all the time.

11:50 PM  
Anonymous Soccer Dad said...

While FIFA said they want it in South America, I also have read where they may drop the continent rotation after 2010. So they may not be completely locked into South America. Columbia is an interesting choice. The whole drug war thing is overblown - that happens in the mountains (unless the US invades :) )

Also, FIFA has said they don't want to entertain joint bids anymore. Besides, Iraq and Jordan? Seriously? I hate what we've done to that country but regardless I can't imagine they'd be in any shape to bid for 2014 (which will be awarded in, what, 2008?) I think the Middle East deserves a shot but it most likely would have to be a joint bid (or the Saudis go on a building spree)

7:37 AM  

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