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The Cup Running Over


November 29, 2010 10:05 AM

World Cup Decision Week: Spain/Portugal (2018) and Qatar (2022) Are Now the Favorites

It's decision week in the race to decide who gets to host World Cup 2018 and World Cup 2022. Last week, we set odds on the victors - Russia and Spain as co-favorites for 2018, Qatar and the US for '22 -- but a lot has happened since then, at least as far as the press speculation goes. The usual wild rumors are circulating about how the 22 members of the FIFA committee will vote and it may be that by Thursday, the two suspended members will be replaced - bringing the committee up to its full 24 members.

It's in the nature of a secretive process like this that no one really knows what's going to happen. Nevertheless, here's the latest, followed by a list of the country's delegates who will vote and our latest predictions:

    
2018 - Spain/Portugal, Russia, England, Belgium/Holland

The 2018 vote will come first. Some early press estimates put the first round tally at Spain/Portugal 9, Russia 7, England 4, and Holland/Belgium 2, though it's been reported that some supporters of the Spain/Portugal bid may throw their votes to Holland/Belgium in the first round in the hopes of eliminating England early. If Oceania is allowed to replace its suspended delegate (unlikely), it helps England since that's how the replacement is expected to vote.

If the composition of the committee stays at 22 and the above estimate holds, that likely dictates a Spain/Portugal vs. Russia final round. If that's the case, it's believed Spain/Portugal will likely win since England and its allies (who will have been eliminated at this point) are believed to be better disposed towards that bid.

Despite this, the English bookies have slashed their odds on the Russians in 2018, as some late money has come in to support its bid. And England is scrambling, trying to lure the Paraguay vote by scheduling a lucrative friendly with its national team next year. It's not likely to work as Paraguay is expected to vote with the other Latin American reps for Spain/Portugal.
   
WorldCup_DancingonStreetcar.jpgOn Thursday, will the Spanish be celebrating again?


2022 - Qatar, USA, Australia, South Korea, and Japan


The first vote should give a good indication of how the second will go. If Spain/Portugal prevails for 2018, that's bad news for the USA, since it's been widely reported that the seven or eight international allies of the Spain/Portugal bid have made a deal, in which they've agreed to support that bid in 2018 in return for backing Qatar in 2022.

If that's the case (and we'll never know - the deliberations and votes are secret), the 2022 vote could track the 2018 result, with Qatar leading the USA in the first round, and Australia third. That would put the US in the position of having virtually to sweep the votes of the Australian and Asian supporters to pass Qatar in the final round.

It's possible but unlikely.


OUR ASSESSMENT OF HOW THE 22 DELEGATES MIGHT VOTE

South America - 3 votes for Spain/Portugal; 3 votes for Qatar

Argentina
Brazil
Paraguay


Africa - A mystery: These are swing votes. The guess here? Russia in 2018, Qatar in '22.

Cameroon
Ivory Coast

   
Asia - Probably England in 2018, though the real question is where they go if the English are eliminated. They'll vote for their own bids in 2022 and then it's an open question, with Qatar showing surprising interest.

South Korea
Thailand
Japan

   
North America - 2 votes for England, 1 for Spain/Portugal in 2018. In 2022, the USA would like to think it will get all three but Guatemala may go with its Spanish-bloc cousins and vote for Qatar.

Trinidad and Tobago
Guatemala
USA

   
Europe - All over the lot in the 2018 first round as many are competing. In the final? If it's England-Russia, England can probably count on at least half of the 8, maybe more. If it's Spain/Portugal-Russia? The vote leans away from the Russians towards Iberia.

Spain
France
England
Belgium
Cyprus
Germany
Russia
Turkey


Miscellaneous - These countries are from different regions obviously but they comprise a solid bloc of Qatar support. In 2018, the rumor is that Spain has them locked up.

Qatar
Egypt


FIFA head - Who knows? It's said he likes the South Korean bid but it won't be in the final round.

Sepp Blatter, FIFA Head


Preliminary Tally/Prediction:

    2018

Not to hedge, but we've got this one completely up in the air with Spain with 8, England with 7, Russia with 6, and one undecided. Spain is a likely finalist (when the vote narrows to two nations) and the guess here is that no matter who gets to that last vote (either Russia or England), the Iberian bid now seems likeliest to prevail. But it's iffy.
 
    2022

As of today, we've got Qatar with 11, the USA with 6, Australia with 3, and two undecided. As hard as it may seem for Americans to believe, Qatar is in the pole position. The USA's best hope is that the Spain-Portugal/Qatar axis collapses. But if Spain/Portugal wins the first vote, Qatar looks like the favorite to win the second.


OUR LATEST ODDS

2018

Spain/Portugal: 3-2
Russia:  2-1
England: 4-1
Holland/Belgium: 60-1

2022

Qatar: Even
USA: 3-2
Australia: 10-1

Japan 99-1
South Korea: 200-1


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