On December 2nd 2010, the executive board of FIFA selected Russia and Qatar as the locations for the World Cup in 2018 and 2022, respectively. FIFA president Joseph Blatter at the time expressed his deep satisfaction with the decision and enthused that the sport was headed to “new lands”. He also predicted that the two new tournaments would contribute significantly to the development of the sport.
During the bidding, which officially began in March 2009, Russia faced tough rivals England, a joint bid from Belgium & the Netherlands, and another joint bid from Spain & Portugal. The process was rife with controversies as FIFA had to suspend the voting rights of two of its Executive Committee members following allegations of bribery. Also, a Russian official criticized England’s bid, which prompted the Brits to file a formal complaint. Russia then apologized, and England relented.
As the voting took place in Zurich, rules required a majority of 12 votes for an applicant to be chosen. In the first round, Russia received 9 votes, Spain & Portugal 7, Netherlands & Belgium 4, and England 2. These results prompted a second round of voting. It was at this point that England withdrew its 2018 bid, and the final tally favored Russia with 13 votes, followed by Spain & Portugal with 7, and Netherlands & Belgium 2.
The results drew some heated reactions, mostly from England. Their custodian Lord Treisman essentially accused several FIFA members of extortion, saying that they required payments to vote for England. Among the accused was FIFA’s vice president Jack Warner, and the British media alleged that FIFA had “sold” the World Cup hosting rights to Russia. The allegation came amidst the bribery scandal that implicated FIFA Executive Committee members Amos Adamu and Reynald Temarii.
There were also objections voiced about the lack of transparency in the bidding process, aimed primarily at the secretive ballot casting.
However, all of that is largely forgotten now that organizers as well as fans are looking forward to next month’s spectacle. Thirty-two nations from all around the world will compete in a total of 64 matches, with one team lifting the FIFA World Cup Trophy in Moscow. No one can’t take that away from Russia.