Sepp Blatter and his colleagues at FIFA are today preparing for perhaps the single most importance decisions of their lives – deciding who will host the 2018 and 2022 World Cups.
Pictured: Moscow’s Luzhniki Stadium would host the final should Russia win
Who the FIFA president will vote for remains a mystery, with Russia and England believed to be the frontrunners for the 2018 competition. Joint bids from Belgium/Netherlands and Portugal/Spain are also believed to be in contention but are viewed as outside bets.
In the first of a two part series, Breaking Travel News here examines the competitors looking to scoop the right to host the 2018 competition.
Check back later for our guide to the 2022 finalists.
2018 FIFA World Cup
Among the favourites to host the 2018 FIFA World Cup is Russia. Already scheduled to host the Winter Olympics at Sochi in 2014, the European giant is looking to repeat the success on the football field, with prime minister Vladimir Putin throwing his personal support behind the endeavour.
Ahead of the vote Russia has been keen to explore the historic elements of its bid, claiming - as an emerging football power - it has a right to host the tournament for the first time. Winning the World Cup is also a national priority for the government, while the friendly, welcoming nature of the Russian people is also portrayed as a major asset.
Fourteen cities – split into four different clusters - are included in the current Russian proposal, which was submitted in early 2009.
In the north, St Petersburg and Kaliningrad form the first, while a central cluster is centred on Moscow, Rostov-on-Don and Krasnodar join Sochi in the south, while a Volga River cluster includes Yaroslavl, Nizhny Novgorod, Kazan, Saransk, Samara and Volgograd.
Only one city beyond the Ural Mountains is cited, Yekaterinburg.
Ahead of the final vote World Mobi has been offering visitors a chance to orientate themselves with the bid cities with the launch of comprehensive, up to the minute travel guides. Over 800 cities in 200 countries are listed, with key features - including information on accommodation, restaurants, attractions, entertainment, nightlife, shopping, transport, and weather - all offered as standard.
Also on offer are user reviews and traveller utilities such as a translation guide, currency converter, news and local weather guide.
Sepp Blatter – seen here awarding the 2014 World Cup to Brazil - will again take centre stage
Also considered a likely contender for the 2018 World Cup is England.
A country with football at its heart, the English have a deep passion for the beautiful game. With iconic stadiums, excellent infrastructure, first class accommodation and offering a warm welcome to all visitors, England promises a fantastic festival of football.
England is also home to communities from over 200 nations, all sharing a love for the world’s favourite sport, while the commercial possibilities of hosting the tournament are the envy of other bidders.
FA president HRH Prince William said: “Hosting the FIFA World Cup in England would give the whole nation the opportunity to share our hospitality, our sense of fair play and our diverse culture.
“England would be proud and honoured to host the FIFA World Cup.”
A total of 15 stadia are presently under consideration, including three – Wembley Stadium, Emirates and the Olympic 2012 Stadium – in London.
In Manchester the City of Manchester Stadium and Old Trafford are likely to be included, while Liverpool, Sunderland, Nottingham, Birmingham, Bristol, Milton Keynes, Sheffield, Leeds and Plymouth will also be hoping for inclusion in the final proposals.
One of two joint bids from Europe, the Netherlands and Belgium are looking to repeat the successful hosting of the Euro 2000 Championships. Focusing on a better, greener, healthier, happier and more sustainable world, the nations are keen to show all member associations of FIFA can claim a lasting and innovative position on the time line of world football.
A successful bid would see the European nations host a compact tournament with small distances between the venues. Officials, teams, players and vast numbers of supporters would be offered easy access to all venues in very little time making use of sustainable and collective means of transport.
Coaches and players from both destinations have already travelled all over the world to impress fans with a specific view of the game of football; combining a daring approach, an open attitude and a willingness to settle in faraway countries.
At present the Benelux bid does not have an 80,000 capacity stadium to host the final. However, the city council of Rotterdam gave permission in March 2009 for development of a new stadium with such capacity to be completed in time for the possible World Cup in 2018.
In November 2009, the venues were presented.
In Belgium, matches would be played in seven venues: Antwerp, Bruges, Brussels, Charleroi, Genk, Gent and Liège. In the Netherlands, five cities would host matches: Amsterdam, Eindhoven, Enschede, Heerenveen and Rotterdam, but both Amsterdam and Rotterdam will provide two stadiums.
Eindhoven will function as the ‘capital city’ of the World Cup if the bid were to be successful.
The city of Eindhoven would host the World Cup it the Benelux bid is successful
Finally, Spain and Portugal have formed part of the great family of football for the last 100 years – with Spain rising to prominence with victories in both Euro 2008 and 2010 FIFA World Cup .
Football has fired passions in the countries since the very first time a ball was put into play on an improvised pitch, with the game growing from the sweat of the players to become the most important of mass phenomena.
Spain’s organisation of the Euro 1964 and the World Cup 1982 was irreproachable, while the same is true of Portugal’s staging of the Euro 2004. Both are now seeking to offer more, with guarantees in place for comfortable and modern transport links; impeccable stadiums; a perfect infrastructure of hotels; and an enviable climate, all happily linked to football and the very best the game has to offer.
In Portugal, Porto and Lisbon will offer their services.