THE BLOG

Football's NOT Coming Home in 2018

09/06/2015 14:41 BST | Updated 09/06/2016 10:59 BST

It was a big surprise to most of the footballing world when Russia and Qatar were chosen to host the World Cup in 2018 and 2022 respectively.

Back in 2010, David Beckham and Prince William were fronting the campaign for England 2018 and put a strong case for football's biggest tournament to come home after over 50 years away.

At the time when we lost the bid there were several mutterings and unsubstantiated rumours of foul play but now following the recent arrests of several senior FIFA figures and the resignation of President Sepp Blatter the validity of the Russian and Qatar bids have both been seriously called into question.

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Several bookmakers have England as favourite to host the World Cup if Russia lose their hold over it. Every day there is fresh news pointing to votes being bought, the FBI have extended their investigation to include the Qatari and Russian bids and now a Qatari whistleblower has been taken in under their witness protection scheme.

Under the pressure of the mounting pile of evidence FIFA has now confirmed that Russia and Qatar will be stripped of the World Cup hosting rights if conclusive new proof of corruption emerges.

But before we all start singing the chorus to classic football anthem Three Lions, it's far from certain that Russia will lose their hold on the world's biggest football tournament.

One thing that is certain is that Russian President Vladimir Putin will not let it go easily. There is a presidential election in Russia in 2018 and the tournament will provide a major fillip for his campaign. That said, Russia's construction plans were already in turmoil prior to the FIFA corruption scandal. Western economic sanctions over the Ukraine crisis and a fall in the price of oil have greatly dented Russia's original elaborate plans, but there is no doubt Putin will still plough ahead, albeit with a budget tournament.

The other problem is that it's unlikely that any other country could turn around an event of this scale with only two-and-a-half years preparation. Even with the 2012 Olympic Stadium, Wembley, and Old Trafford it would be a big (and expensive) task to pull off.

Russia has budgeted for £7.9Bn which is around £1bn more than the 2012 Olympics cost the UK, and £2.91bn of the Olympics money came from taxpayers.

So it's unlikely there will be any other takers for 2018 this late in the day, and the FA have already said they are "not interested" in stepping in to host the 2018 or for 2022. It's not likely to be on George Osbourne's agenda to pay out around £3bn from the public purse for another major sporting event in the next term.

It is quite possible however that feelings might change in time for 2022 if the Qataris lose their hold of the Cup. It was always an incredibly unlikely choice for the World Cup anyway. A small desert country with no real football tradition, where even in January average temperatures are 28C, and just think about the disruption to the European leagues if this tournament runs for four weeks from January to February.

On top of that factor in a pretty appalling human rights record for the largely Nepalese workers who are building the World Cup infrastructure for 2022. It has been reported that 157 died from January to mid November last year, mainly due to heart attack from working long hours and six-day weeks in temperatures that regularly top 50C.

So maybe, just maybe football might come home for 2022, but if Qatar don't lose it the only World Cup hosted here for some time will be the one with the odd shaped balls.

Sayed Bukhari is the CEO and Founder of HPM Developments in London