Will it be Russia or England, or joint bids from Spain/Portugal and Holland/Belgium. BTN gives the pros and cons of each 2018 bidding nations.
Pros: The inventor of the beautiful game, England boasts some of the world’s most state-of-the-art stadiums and accommodation facilities, and is also home of the Premier League – the world’s finest and most lucrative domestic league. It also has a mature commercial market that would promise Fifa a £160 million operating profit.
Cons: The bid has been dogged by internal disputes, the English’s supposed witch hunt for alleged Fifa corrupt, including the latest Panorama episode. England’s promotional video is possibly the most nauseating ever and has nothing to do with the strengths of the country.
Bid ambassadors: Prince William, David Cameron, David Beckham, Gary Lineker and Alan Shearer.
Fifa technical report: Cites England as making the most detailed proposal, and praises both legacy plans and commercial strength.
Experts view: England are underdogs and the controversy has done them no favours, but if they make it in to the final round against Spain or Russia, but they’ve got a good a chance as any.
Betting odds: 13-8
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Pros: Strong footballing heritage despite being small countries. Holland in particular has an excellent track record in major competitions – and is the most successful football nation never to have hosted a World Cup. The two nations boast excellent infrastructure, especially stadiums, and the small area of the two countries, coupled with excellent transport link, will make it easy for fans to travel between host cities. They are hopeful of influential backing from Uefa president Michel Platini.
Cons: Joint bids have a poor history of success and Holland-Belgium are regarded as distant outsiders in the build up to the announcement.
Bid ambassadors: Johan Cruyff, Ruud Gullit, Guus Hiddink and Justine Henin (right)
Fifa technical report: Holland-Belgium was judged medium risk in nine areas but, like England and Spain-Portugal, was still rated low risk overall.
Experts view: Outsiders for the race despite being the most cheerful and least controversial, but they will be hoping to cause a first-round upset and make progress from there. Both Russia and England are concerned.
Betting odds: 40-1
Pros: Thriving domestic leagues, mean both Spain and Portugal boast excellent stadiums and infrastructure. Spain is also the World Cup winner. They also have the brilliant networker Angel Maria Villar Llona, and the support of voters allied to Qatari Mohamed Bin Hammam.
Cons: Economic uncertainty in Portugal and Spain. Joint bids are historically shunned by Fifa.
Bid Ambassadors: Iker Casillas, Cristiano Ronaldo.
Fifa technical report: Favours overall bid strategy and infrastructure, but Fifa highlights lack of legacy plans and detailed security plan.
Experts view: Backing of Mohamed Bin Hammam and allies could prove crucial with at least five votes secured. They are firm favourites going into the bidding.
Betting odds: 13/8
Pros: No Eastern bloc country has ever hosted the tournament, and Sepp Blatter may be keen to host in new territories, replicating the success of South Africa, and the associated legacy gains.
Cons: Huge size of country will create logistical problems. Fifa technical report raises a number of areas of concern.
Bid ambassadors: Roman Abramovich, Vladimir Putin, Yelena Isinbayeva, Andrei Arshavin.
Fifa technical report: Russia has five areas of medium risk, with air transport judged a high risk because of the absence of a reliable rail network and concerns over the pressure this would put on air travel.
Experts view: The bookies’ favourite but the absence of Vladimir Putin could prove a bad omen.
Betting odds: 8/11