SBC’s On The Ball – International insight

The Russian World Cup kicked off in style yesterday evening, with the hosts taking apart an amateur looking Saudi Arabia side, in front of a jubilant Moscow crowd.

To mark the commencing of football’s showpiece event, this edition of On The Ball aims to give a greater insight into some international stories, analysing the 2026 World Cup, as well as looking at some positive news for PSG’s Qatari owners.

2026 World Cup heads to North America

Just prior to the World Cup opening ceremony, FIFA announced that a joint bid from The USA, Canada and Mexico had been chosen over Morocco, to host the 2026 World Cup.

Nonetheless, the current political climate between the three nations has served to hamper the united jubilation that would previously have been anticipated in the event of the bid being successful.

It’s widely expected that the USA will host the vast majority of the tournament, with Canada and Mexico taking 10 games each. Additionally, it has been heavily touted that the final will be played at New York’s 82,500 capacity Met Life Stadium.

Speaking on a conference call after it was announced that tournament will head to North America for the first time since 1994, United States Soccer president Carlos Cordeiro stated: “We believe that soccer … will become the preeminent sport in North America, and I am not just speaking for the U.S.”

The UK ready to throw its hat back in the ring

After the heartache of its 2008 and 2018 bid, it appears the English FA is ready to once again bid to become the host of the World Cup, as the race for the 2030 tournament begins.

However, competition to host the 2030 tournament will be hotly contested, with Argentina and Uruguay looking for a nostalgic bid, 100 years after the two competed in the final.

Australia will also be looking for redemption, after they felt equally as aggrieved as England in the aftermath of the awarding of the 2018 and 2022 tournaments, as Qatar was awarded named the 2022 host over what was regarded as a strong Australia bid.  

It’s also impossible to underestimate the strength of a China bid, especially given how much Chinese football has grown in recent years, with President Xi Jinping continually emphasising that it’s one if his key incentives to increase China’s influence in global football.

Smarkets reveals heavy Brazilian backing

After offering new customers the chance to follow a team during the tournament and get a £10 risk-free bet on each game their team plays, Smarkets has revealed who its users are backing to lift the Jules Rimet trophy in Moscow.

The firm detailed 51% of sign-ups have chosen Brazil as their team, with Germany (23%), France (7%) and Spain (5%) the next most popular sides. England, at 4.3%, have been the fifth-most popular team.

This is in stark contrast to the winner market being traded on the Smarkets platform, which has had over £10m in trading volume. Brazil’s latest decimal odds of 5.2 imply a 19% chance of success, with Germany (16%), Spain (13%) and France (12%) not far behind at all.

Smarkets CEO Jason Trost said: “It’s interesting to see so many of our new users opting for Brazil over other strong nations like Germany, Spain and France in the Choose Your Team offer.

“Perhaps there’s value to be had in Brazil’s available price on the exchange, given how strong they’ve been on the sign-up offer. Either way, we’re very excited to have plenty of money already being traded on the Smarkets platform.”

French champions cleared of FFP breach

After a host of high profile signings, French champion Paris Saint Germain have been cleared of by UEFA of breaching any Financial Fair Play rules.

The investigation arose after the Qatari owned club smashed the transfer record to sign Brazilian superstar Neymar for €222m. However after an investigation, UEFA came to the conclusion that PSG “were in line with the UEFA Club Licensing and Financial Fair Play Regulations”.

The ruling will be a major relief to the club’s Qatari owners and the Qatari Football Federation, as the nation prepares to host the 2022 World Cup

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