On 2 December, the world football governing body, FIFA, chose Russia (a first for Eastern Europe) and Qatar (a first for the Middle East) as hosts of the 2018 and 2022 World Cups respectively.
Fifa president, Sepp Blatter, stated upon announcing the winning bids that they were informed by the need to take the game to uncharted lands and thereby contribute to opening up the world. Major bidders England and the United States lost the 2018 and 2022 bids respectively and faulted Fifa's well-meaning decision to go with Russia and Qatar.
Let's not forget that it is the same people who faulted Fifa's election of South Africa as the 2010 World Cup hosts and hurled criticisms at every stage of the build-up to the 2010 finals, raising unfounded questions about South Africa's ability to deliver. Well, South Africa proved them spectacularly wrong, and Russia and Qatar will do the same.
US President Barack Obama, who campaigned with a promise to engage the world more, called the Fifa decision a mistake. Just because it did not go the US way barely 16 years after America hosted the tournament does not mean it is a bad decision. In fact, Obama shouldn't have encouraged the US bid in the first place or better still, accepted the loss with grace since Qatar hosting the 2022 tournament will significantly open the Middle Eastern country to the world. Interestingly, the leader of the Qatari bid described his country's success as [a product of] change, echoing Obama's election campaign theme.
Elsewhere, either as a result of the loss of the joint bid put up by his native Portugal and Spain or as an extension of the despair generally felt by the West, CNN's Pedro Pinto, in his...