First off, allow me to gloat for a minute.
My previous article, FIFA World Cup Bid Live: Could It Be Russia and Qatar? made perfect predictions on both counts, despite the low odds, officially making me look like the Warren Buffet of football—if only for a moment.
Despite what everyone was saying about the US and England being favorites, the writing was on the wall.
As stated in the article, FIFA's decision to vote on two consecutive World Cup venues simultaneously AND twelve years in advance made it seem as though FIFA was trying to create a favorable atmosphere for nations with World Cup ambitions but without ready infrastructure.
FIFA's 1994-2014 twenty year pattern of USA, France, Japan/South Korea, Germany, South Africa, and Brazil would seem redundant if topped with yet another Western European country and the USA for 2018 and 2022.
Though FIFA's initial reports showed strong reservations against their bids, both Russia and Qatar would help make FIFA a TRULY global brand.
If you know anything about Sepp Blatter, you know that he is interested in retiring the "old-world, elitist" stranglehold over football in exchange for a "New World Cup Order" that involves global players from new and diverse markets.
Blatter was a force behind the continental rotation system which robs developed nations of past privileges and gives less developed nations a fighting chance. You also know that he personally lobbied voters and stood behind the candidates who won for 2018 and 2022.
The Persian Gulf's rapid economic ascent and mesmerizing development made you wonder if it would be a matter of time before the region hosted a World Cup or a Summer Olympics.
FIFA's investment in Qatar, entrusting it to host multiple FIFA tournaments and ceremonial games, made you wonder if FIFA was eying it for the big boys club further down the line.
Russia on the other hand is an untapped behemoth of history, culture, and pure brand. One that has never reached it's full global market potential. A good choice for FIFA by any measure.
This has nothing to do with Russia and Qatar, but I get the feeling that this was as much a vote against England and the US as it was a vote for Russia and Qatar—a referendum of sorts on their popularity in the international community today.
The US and England have a tendency to become so ethnocentric that they lose touch of how they're perceived in the world.
Unfortunately, the two countries demonstrated an arrogant, obnoxious sense of entitlement in the bidding process.
To be fair, this was more apparent in the media than in the official delegations.
Nevertheless, the bad energy was certainly not missed on other countries who sympathized with the underdogs, some of whom, like Russia, made little secret of their disenchantment with English trash talking.
Similarly, it did not help that many supporters of the US bid saw fit to demonize Qatar's bid by furthering perceived stereotypes about the Middle East that have no place in football.
You only need to do a quick run of Google to note the annoying sense of entitlement both the US and England paraded around with in selling their bids.
While this "yeah me!" attitude makes the local populations feel good, the rest of the world does not really buy into it.
As an advisor to the Chicago 2016 Summer Olympic Bid—for which we got zero votes—I learned that the hard way.
All in all—
FIFA must be sitting contently right now.
In one day, they nabbed the largest country on earth and one of the smallest.
In Russia, they have a country that represents the "other" Europe, and in Qatar, a country that—despite its size—represents the Middle East and the 1.5 billion persons in the Muslim world.
For Qatar's part, it will be a golden opportunity to catapult itself into a whole other stratosphere.
The ambitious oil state who—despite aggressive economic, educational, and cultural reforms—has been playing second fiddle to its more glitzy neighbor, Dubai.
Expect wonders from Qatar as they relish this opportunity to once and for all emerge from Dubai's shadows and into the global limelight.
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