Russia, Qatar get World Cups in 2018 and 2022FIFA sent the World Cup into uncharted territory Thursday, handing the 2018 edition to Russia and going to Qatar in 2022.
ZURICH (AP) — FIFA sent the World Cup into uncharted territory Thursday, handing the 2018 edition to Russia and going to Qatar in 2022.
Russia's selection came despite the no-show of Prime Minister Vladimir Putin, but his clout still had an impact on FIFA's 22 voters as it won over England, Spain-Portugal and Belgium-Netherlands.
Qatar brings the World Cup to the smallest host ever but one which has unparalleled financial clout to stage the world's biggest single-sport event. It overcame objections about holding the games in desert heat and asked FIFA to take a “bold gamble.”
“We go to new lands,” FIFA President Sepp Blatter said.
The United States and Australia had been tipped as favorites alongside Qatar for 2022. Japan and South Korea were also in the running.
After three days of high anxiety when England sent Prime Minister David Cameron, Prince William and David Beckham for intense lobbying and the United States counted on the aura of former President Bill Clinton, none were a match for the novelty promised by Qatar and Russia.
“Thank you for believing in change,” said Qatar's Emir, Sheikh Hamad bin Khalifa Al-Thani.
Qatar will stage a World Cup in and around Doha in a desert summer but promises state-of-the-art technology to cool fans and players alike.
After the elimination of Australia, Japan and South Korea, it came down to a duel between the United States, promising huge commercial spoils in a key growth market, and the new territory of the Gulf region, still flush with riches despite the global financial crisis.
Qataris and others — including workers from south Asia — immediately started dancing in the streets along Doha's Gulf waterfront. Some blew the vuvuzelas that became synonymous with the World Cup in South Africa.
Qatar had asked FIFA to take a “bold gamble” and insisted the desert nation's extreme heat would not be an issue.
All through its lobbying effort, it stressed the compact nation had the money, resources and high-technology to overcome any logistical objections.
The tournament would be held when temperatures in Qatar typically exceed 48 degrees C (118 degrees F). FIFA highlighted the potential risk posed by the heat.
It pointed out that World Cups in Mexico 1986 and United States 1994 also faced massive heat and both were big sporting successes.
Qatar is promising to spend $50 billion on infrastructure upgrades and $4 billion to build nine stadiums and renovate three others. No stadium would be more than an hour apart, while many would be dismantled and sections would be sent to poor nations.
In the wake of the successful hosting of the World Cup in the once-divided South Africa, one of Qatar's strongest arguments is that the tournament would have a transformational effect in the region.