The 2018 FIFA World Cup will be the 21st edition of the FIFA World Cup. Bidding to host the 2018 World Cup will close in 2010.
Despite expectations to the contrary, FIFA will not necessarily continue with their policy of rotating the right to host the World Cup amongst the different confederations. This policy would have seen the 2018 World Cup being held in either North America (CONCACAF) or Oceania (OFC). However, in an interview with The Sun-Herald the head of FIFA, Sepp Blatter, said:
"The World Cup is a very serious matter. There will be good contenders for 2018. The rotation system only goes until 2014. The rotation was a political decision to ensure the World Cup went to Africa, otherwise Africa would never have it."
However, on February 28, 2007 while in London for meetings with English officials, Blatter said that the rotation system may continue past the 2014 World Cup:
"If the FIFA executive committee decides later this year that the rotation policy is maintained, in strict procedure it should be in North America in 2018 and there are three countries who could host it there -- the United States, Mexico and Canada,"
Countries that have announced their interest include Australia,England, Mexico, and the United States. The Netherlands and Belgium have expressed interest in a joint bid.
In late May 2006, the Victorian sports minister, Justin Madden, said that he wanted his state to drive a bid to stage the 2018 World Cup. While Australia has nine modern stadia suitable for the World Cup already built, no official statement has been made about the possible location of the last venue. The Victorian sports minister was quoted as saying "If FIFA is serious about growing the game in the Asia-Pacific region, then the time can't be too far away where they need to move into the region", and "Where else would they put it but Australia?" Football Australia have confirmed that Australia will bid for the 2018 World Cup finals.
After Australia's draw against Croatia (which qualified Australia for the second round of the 2006 World Cup, facing eventual champions Italy), both NSW & South Australian premiers Morris Iemma and Mike Rann expressed their interest in putting a bid forward for the finals in 2018 and announced their intention to put the proposal forward at the next meeting of the Council of Australian Governments. Victoria Premier Steve Bracks spoke up as well and reaffirmed what his sports minister said in 2005, saying he supported the submission and any bid for the event should be a national effort. The Victorian Premier made it clear the finals should be hosted by his state - "If there was a World Cup to be held here we would play a significant part because of our major events capacity," he told reporters in Melbourne.
Australia hosted the OFC Nations Cup twice (1998, and 2004), and four-way co-hosted once (1996). Australia has also enjoyed success hosting other major sporting events recently, with the 2000 Summer Olympics held in Sydney, the 2003 Rugby World Cup, and the 2006 Commonwealth Games held in Melbourne.
If Australia were to host the tournament, significant improvements would need to be made to the stadium setup in the nation. At present, the country has only eight stadiums of the required capacity:
Suncorp Stadium (Brisbane, 52,579)
Telstra Stadium (Sydney, 83,500)
Sydney Cricket Ground (Sydney, 44,002)
Aussie Stadium (Sydney, 41,159)
Melbourne Cricket Ground (Melbourne, 100,000)
Telstra Dome (Melbourne, 56,347)
AAMI Stadium (Adelaide, 51,515)
Subiaco Oval (Perth, 42,922).
However the Melbourne and Sydney Cricket Grounds, AAMI Stadium, and Subiaco Oval are all oval venues, and therefore not ideal for the hosting of football matches. The MCG, however, has hosted football internationals before, including the upcoming friendly between the Socceroos and Argentina. In addition, three of the stadiums used in the 2006 FIFA World Cup had a running track around the pitch, including the one used for the final.
With the Melbourne Victory football (soccer) club lobbying the Victorian Government to increase the capacity of the proposed Melbourne Rectangular Stadium, Melbourne could possibly house a third World Cup capacity stadium. Similarly, the Gold Coast Titans rugby league club is currently developing Skilled Park, which could feasibly be made to seat the 40,000 required to host a World Cup fixture. In addition to these EnergyAustralia Stadium (Newcastle), Dairy Farmers Stadium (Thuringowa) and Canberra Stadium (Canberra) could also be similar expanded. There has also been some discussion from the Western Australian government about building a new multi-purpose stadium.
A major stumbling block to a potential Australian bid is the current FIFA policy that mandates that only one city may have two stadiums in a given World Cup, and that all other cities in the host country are restricted to one World Cup venue. Under this policy, at least one of the major stadiums in either Sydney or Melbourne cannot be used for a World Cup, and the construction of a new stadium in any of the country's other state capitals would likely mean that the city's existing grounds could not be used.
Belgium and The Netherlands
In an interview on 6 July 2006, the president of the Dutch Football Organisation Jeu Sprengers (also secretary of UEFA) said that the Dutch Football organisation is positive about a joint bid. Bid president Alain Courtois, who was also a leader of the organisation committee for Euro 2000 (also jointly hosted between the two), has announced that a formal bid will be put forward in January 2007.
However, FIFA have stated recently that joint hosting will not be permitted in the future so it is unlikely that this bid will come to fruition. Even so there were several signals in early 2006 that the Belgian and Dutch Football Organisations are seriously considering a joint bid to host the 2018 World Cup.
England has also announced interest in hosting the event, after London's successful bid for the 2012 Summer Olympics. Chancellor Gordon Brown and Sport Minister (DCMS), Tessa Jowell, announced they were to take the first step towards bidding to host the 2018 World Cup on 18 November 2005. A few days earlier the FA's Director of Communications, Adrian Bevington, announced:
"A bid to bring the World Cup Finals back to England in 2018 will be given serious consideration, but it will be at least next autumn before we would put any definite proposals in place. It's fantastic news that the Government, through the Treasury, have announced their support for any future bid but, in terms of the precise nature of any such bid, that won't be decided on for another year or so."
England hosted the 1966 World Cup, and EURO '96. England would be the fifth or sixth nation (depending on the host for 2014) to organise two World Cups. Sepp Blatter has said he would welcome a 2018 bid from "the homeland of football".
Arsenal's new Emirates Stadium, opened 2006
Arsenal's new Emirates Stadium, opened 2006
Excitement at the possibility of England hosting the World Cup again has grown during the build up to 2006 FIFA World Cup. In March 2006 Gordon Brown commented, "I hope the memory of 1966 will inspire the current England squad in Germany this summer and I hope it inspires the whole country to get behind a bid to bring the World Cup back to England in 2018."
David Will vice-president of FIFA told the Press Association in April 2006:
"I would think England would have a very strong bid. The English bid for 2006 was much stronger than appeared from the pattern of voting but so much has changed since then anyway. Since they bid for 2006 the FA have started an enormous international assistance programme. They suddenly realised after the 2006 bid that the FA had become a little bit unknown in some parts of the world and have started this huge programme - thatâ€™s bound to help."
In May 2006 Gordon Brown again commented, "I believe that intense excitement will grow in this country if England is able to mount a bid for World Cup 2018. To follow the London Olympics in 2012 with the World Cup six years later would be a magnificent achievement for our country. It would emphasise just how much of a sporting nation we are. And I am determined to play whatever part I can in making it possible. Wherever I go in the world over the next few years, I will be on a mission to persuade other countries that it is time for the World Cup to come here in 2018. We supported Nelson Mandela in taking the World Cup to Africa in 2010, and on my recent visits to Mozambique and other African countries, I asked them to back our bid. In future years, we will support our friends abroad in taking the tournament to Australasia, and back to Asia and the Americas. But in 2018, it will have been more than 50 years since this country - which gave football to the world - has had the chance to host the worldâ€™s greatest tournament. So we will ask others to support us in bringing football back home."
Wembley, the new 90,000-seat arena would almost certainly be the final venue.
Wembley, the new 90,000-seat arena would almost certainly be the final venue.
England has plenty of venues capable of staging World Cup football. At present there are two UEFA 5-star stadia and five UEFA 4-star stadia, although these figures are likely to grow in the coming years. In addition to the New Wembley Stadium there are currently ten club grounds that are large enough to hold FIFA World Cup games:
Manchester (Old Trafford, 76,000 and City of Manchester Stadium, 48,000)
Newcastle (St James' Park, 52,316)
Sunderland (Stadium of Light, 49,000)
Liverpool (Anfield, 45,362 and Goodison Park, 40,569), Birmingham (Villa Park, 42,573)
London (Emirates Stadium, 60,432 and Stamford Bridge, 42,449) and Leeds (Elland Road, 40,204)
Twickenham could also be used as a stadium with its 82,000 capacity, although so far the RFU have been reluctant to allow The FA to use the ground.
There are also several large club stadia in development to be open by 2018: Liverpool has just been granted planning permission for their new 60,000 capacity stadium, Everton are hoping to move into a new 55,000 seater stadium in the future and by 2018 Birmingham City could be playing at the 50,000-seater City of Birmingham Stadium. All of these are likely to be classed as UEFA 4-star venues as a minimum. Upton Park, West Ham United's stadium, will also have a capacity of over 40,000 well before then. The Valley, home to Charlton Athletic, is also to be expanded to a 40,600 all-seater stadium.
With a capacity of over 76,004, Old Trafford would probably host a semi-final match.
In addition to these stadia there are also a further twelve stadia with a capacity of over 30,000 which could potentially be expanded to over 40,000 seats. Two of these stadia (Hillsborough, Sheffield and City Ground, Nottingham) were used in EURO '96, and some of them have hosted England and other international matches: St Mary's in Southampton (32,500), Ricoh Arena in Coventry (32,000), Pride Park in Derby (34,000), Portman Road in Ipswich (30,300) and Walkers Stadium in Leicester (32,500). The Denbigh Stadium being built in Milton Keynes that will also have a capacity of 30,000 that could be expanded for the 2018 World Cup. With further stadium building and expansion probable, it is likely that England will have some of the biggest and best football stadia in the world by 2018, and since organisers would only need to select around twelve stadia for use at the tournament it is even possible that most of these could be UEFA 5-star venues. However, FIFA rules dictate that only one city can have two host stadia, and no other city can have more than one. This stipulation means that some of England's best stadia would not be used, with Manchester and Liverpool only able to have one stadium each and London having to choose one from a possible four to accompany Wembley.
On 2 November 2006, the UK government said that they would back a bid for the 2018 World Cup. Richard Caborn, the then Sports Minister said that he has no doubt and the FA Chief Executive, Brian Barwick said: "We would like it. If that is the year it is coming back to Europe then we will go for it. We don't have to decide now how we go about it, we have to learn the lessons of when we didn't get these things and when we did- like the Olympics." Lennart Johansson said: "We would certainly support such a project."
On 28 January 2007, the News of the World reported that Franz Beckenbauer has backed an English bid to host the World Cup, saying "I am 100% behind an English bid. England has everything - the best stadiums and the best crowds and infrastructure."
On 12 February 2007, the UK government pledged its support for a bid. Chancellor Gordon Brown said the tournament should return to "the nation which gave football to the world". Ken Livingstone, Mayor of London, stated that by 2018, the new Wembley Stadium would be complete, and with other new stadiums such as Arsenal's new facility, not a great deal of new building would be required.
FIFA have announced that joint bids will not be allowed, and when the UK government launched its official report on 12 February 2007 it was made clear that their support was for an England-only bid, and that all games would be played at English grounds, and none in Scotland as had previously been speculated.
Fifa president Sepp Blatter has raised serious doubts over England's hopes of staging the World Cup in 2018. If Fifa's executive committee decides in December to maintain its rotation policy, the tournament will be held in either North America or Asia.
Blatter, in London to meet Chancellor Gordon Brown, said: "The executive must take a decision whether the rotation should include all federations.
"If the Americas are considered as one, then rotation would go to Asia."
The USA has indicated its intention to bid to stage the finals for a second time, while China has thrown its hat into the ring along with Australia. Fifa's December executive committee meeting could decide to throw the competition out to all bidders. Blatter said: "It may be that the majority of the Fifa executive committee where you have eight European representatives out of 24, can find the 13 votes needed." The Fifa president said his personal inclination was for the rotation to continue to North America, with the USA, Mexico, and Canada all capable of hosting the tournament.
Mexico has shown interest in hosting the tournament. Mexico hosted the 1970 World Cup and 1986 World Cup, has co-hosted the Gold Cup twice (1993, and 2003), and has hosted the Confederations Cup once (1999).
In February 2007, the USSF said it would put forth a bid for the 2018 World Cup. The United States has a very legitimate bid as it has previously hosted the 1994 FIFA World Cup, every CONCACAF Gold Cup, and the 1999 and 2003 FIFA Women's World Cups. The U.S. contains 96 stadiums with capacities exceeding 50,000 people (as verified by http://www.worldstadiums.com
) so finding proper venues is not an issue, although at least some of those stadiums would not be suitable for various reasons. Many state of the art football stadiums have been built for NFL teams since the 1990s. The United States also has great security, and interest in soccer there is quickly growing.