FIFA turns back the clock 44 years

Joseph Blatter
FIFA President Sepp Blatter speaks during a press conference following a me...
Zurich: World soccer's governing body FIFA will turn back the clock 44 years on Thursday when they announce more than one World Cup host nation on the same day for the first time since then.

It will be the third time that FIFA has announced successive host nations -- after doing so in both 1946 and 1966 when, on July 7, just four days before that year's finals kicked off in England, they announced no less than three World Cup host nations on the same day.

Unlike now, the decisions in both 1946 and 1966 were taken by members of the FIFA Congress rather than the executive committee. And unlike now, there was one single candidate for each World Cup.

At their Congress in Luxembourg in 1946 with FIFA regrouping after the Second World War, they awarded what was originally going to be the 1949 finals to Brazil and the 1951 finals to Switzerland.

Those tournaments were later re-scheduled to take place in 1950 and 1954. Brazil and Switzerland were the only bidders.

Then at their London Congress in 1966, they awarded the 1974 finals to West Germany, the 1978 finals to Argentina and the 1982 finals to Spain, all on the same day.

In each case, those countries were the only bidders.

Thursday's decision in Zurich bears little relation to what happened in either 1946 or 1966.

On Wednesday, the five bidding nations for 2022 -- Australia, Qatar, South Korea, United States and Japan gave their final presentations to FIFA while the four bidding campaigns for 2018 -- England, Russia, Netherlands/Belgium and Spain/Portugal will give their final presentations.

As Harry Been, the chief executive of the joint Netherlands-Belgium said in Zurich this week: "There are only days to go and the whole world is looking in the direction of Zurich.

"Seventy countries will be taking the live broadcast (of the announcement) and tens of millions will watch it as it happens on Thursday. It is an enormous event."