An official bid has been submitted to FIFA by Portugal and Spain, signalling their intent to host the coveted World Cup 2018 hosting rights. The countries from the Iberian Peninsula believe that they have the joint strength to mount a successful proposal to merit this privilege. They are only the second bidders from the European continent, after preparations for a bid by England are well under way. Nations have until the 2nd February to submit their hosting bids. An agreement of cooperation was agreed in Lisbon between the countries’ respective FA Presidents: Gilberto Madail for Portugal and Angel Maria Villar for Spain.
This agreement has kickstarted a race against time to present a plausible offer to FIFA before the deadline expires in a fortnight’s time. Madail describe this as “an important day, the day we decide to go ahead and present a bid to FIFA.” Both countries are well capable of hosting international competitions, as they have already proved in the history of football. Spain hosted Euro 1964 and World Cup 1982. More recently, Portugal hosted Euro 2004. Arguably, Portugal do not have the means to present a justifiable bid on their own, contrary to Spain. But a joint bid is the best option, which will certainly give FIFA food for thought.
The requirements for hosting the event are, amongst others, to have a minimum of 12 stadiums with a minimum 40000 capacity, and at least one stadium with an 80000 plus capacity. This stadium would be the venue for the opening match and the Final. Portugal is the country with the most recent stadium development, to fulfil the requirement for Euro 2004. However, Spain has the biggest amount of stadiums with a large capacity. The venue for the Final would probably be the Nou Camp with a capacity of close to 100000 fans! Portugal cannot match this stadium size, as its largest stadium, Benfica’s Stadium of Light has a capacity of 65647.
[The Majestic Nou Camp, a possible venue for the 2018 Final]
This bid will not do the England 2018 bid any good, as it splits the European backing into two. This European backing may potentially be divided further with future bids from Russia and the Belgium & Netherlands. After the 2nd February deadline, FIFA will commence a 2-year process to evaluate and weigh all the bids. A decision will be made in December of 2010, when the hosts of the 2018 and 2022 World Cups will be announced.