On Wednesday, the United States sent Morgan Freeman, Landon Donovan and Bill Clinton to Zurich, Switzerland as part of its 2022 World Cup bid presentation. On Thursday, they'll find out if it was enough.
The U.S. is aiming to host the World Cup in 2022, welcoming the world's largest sporting event to America for the second time (after originally hosting in 1994). But they're up against real competition from the rest of the world as Australia, Japan, Qatar and South Korea all have bids in as well. Though it seems likely the final decision will come down to the U.S. and Qatar.
2022 World Cup Bids:
United States - Considered the favorite by many for 2022. The U.S. would not need to build any new stadiums; it can offer one of the world's most enormous economies; it's home to a now more-respected MLS; and there's the fact that Americans bought more tickets to the 2010 World Cup than any other country (besides the South African hosts). Its relatively recent hosting job in 1994 may hurt its case, however.
Qatar - If the U.S. doesn't win, then the 2022 bid will (probably) go to Qatar. The oil-rich country is seeking to become the first Arab country to host the the World Cup. However, the tiny country (pop. around 1.7 million) faces a big obstacle: the heat. The average temperature in Qatar in June and July in Qatar is 105 degrees, with the lows still at 85 (FIFA's report said it's "a potential health risk for players, officials, the FIFA family and spectators"). But it's a dry heat?
To overcome those temperatures, Qatar is planning to build amazing temperature controlled stadiums that not only can lower the temperature by up to 68 degrees, but they'll also be designed so that after the World Cup, the stadium's upper tiers will be disassembled and donated to countries with less developed sports infrastructure.
Australia - Australia remains the only continent that has not hosted a World Cup, and 2022 may very well be their year (Sports Illustrated's Grant Wahl has them at 5:2 odds). During their presentation the Aussies asked FIFA to recognize it as "the world's greatest playground" and vote Australia for 2022, the same country that hosted the 2000 Olympics in Sydney and more recently, the 2003 Rugby World Cup. Australia has 75 percent of the necessary stadiums already built, but unfortunately for them, they're part of the Asian confederation, which means if selected, FIFA would not be able to put a World Cup in China until possibly 2034 -- and FIFA wants its tournament in the world's most populous country sooner than that. Australia's time difference from soccer-crazed Europe doesn't do them any favors either.
Japan - Considered a longshot after co-hosting with South Korea so recently (2002). But, they're promising an amazingly high-tech event, complete with instant translation devices so fans from other countries can talk to each other and broadcasting the matches in "life-sized holograms."
South Korea - Considered a near-equal longshot as its 2002 co-host Japan, South Korea is also promising to including a North Korean host city.
Wednesday featured the presentations from the 2022 hopefuls. On Thursday, Belgium-Netherlands (beginning at 3 a.m. ET), Spain-Portugal, England and Russia will make their final case for the 2018 World Cup. FIFA will begin the voting process at 8 a.m. and then at 10 a.m. ET on Thursday, will make the 2018 and 2022 World Cup host nations announcement.