Speculation filled the sporting world this morning leading up to the announcement of World Cup hosts for 2018 and 2022. For the full rundown, see the earlier Wire post. The upshot? Despite Vladimir Putin's odd pull-out from the Russia bid, Russia won the hosting in 2018, crushing the English committee. To make matters worse, reports circulated even before the announcement that England had been eliminated in the first round of voting (and feeding nasty rumors that the British press was being paid back for exposing vote-trading in FIFA). Russia, of course, has never hosted the World Cup, making it a great win for them--and certainly FIFA likes first-time bids. On the other hand, the English invented the game, and haven't hosted the Cup since the '60s.Then came the second big upset: Qatar, whose team has never actually made it to the competition (past the qualifying rounds, that is), beat out the U.S. for the 2022 spot. There's big drama there, too, with Qatar asking to be seen as a representative for a new Middle East. Their bid involved lavish new stadiums with air conditioning, later to be broken down and sent to developing countries for construction projects.
So what's the reaction? Here's a sample of the shock, fury, and, in fact, approbation:
English Disappointment for 2018
- England: Will We Ever Get Our Own Sport Back Again? "We don't feel as if we could have done anymore," says Alan Shearer, retired legendarily productive striker, former English team captain, and Officer of the Order of the British Empire interviewed on site by the BBC following the announcements. "It makes you feel if we haven't got it this time then whenever will we get it," he continues. "It's unfortunate, it's sad, it hurts." The interviewer echoes the questions about whether England would ever again see its own sport return home, and also suggests an "inquest" is already beginning regarding the report that England was knocked out in the first round of voting, coming in fourth out of four.
- Current English Captain: 'Soooo Gutted' English national team captain Rio Ferdinand asks on Twitter: "What more could we have done? What did we do wrong?" Some tweets from him as well as BBC correspondent James Pearce:
If FIFA thought they'd had a hard time from English media in the past, I can confidently predict that they've seen nothing yet
Qatar Beats U.S. for 2022
- Qatar Over the U.S.?! This, after the English disappointment, proves too much for Northern Irish professional golfer Rory Mcilroy (a big soccer fan), who, enraged, tweets:
Now Qatar!! FIFA only interested in the CASH!!
- To Be Fair: Qatar Was Impressive English team captain Rio Ferdinand admits, regarding the Qatar bid for 2022 (which beat out the American one): "their plans were very impressive that I saw when I visited. Air conditioned stadiums in desert etc."
- 'Another Disappointing Defeat,' points out The New York Times' Lynn Zinser, " after Chicago lost its bid to host the 2016 Olympics last year."
- On the Other Hand, Jubilation in Qatar Zinser also reports the Qatari acceptance speech, delivered in flawless (and, as those watching live may have noticed, nearly completely unaccented) English by Sheikh Mohammad bin Hamad Al-Thani, the country's bid chairman:
"Thank you for believing in change, thank you for believing in expanding the game, thank you for giving Qatar a chance. ... We will not let you down. You will be proud of us, you will be proud of the Middle East and I promise you this."
- A Hint of How the Arab World Is Taking This A screenshot of the Al Jazeera homepage at roughly 11:45 A.M., after the announcements came out. Though this is not in fact a special report landing page, the lede story and the top six stories below are about the World Cup selection.