Though it seems unlikely, it's still possible that Russia could lose the right to host the 2018 FIFA World Cup due to alleged corruption and bribery activities during the awarding process. Alexei Sorokin, the Russian World Cup bid's head, last week condemned calls for Russia to be stripped of the World Cup and revealed that 40 percent of the infrastructure required is already built.
But despite what he says, if any evidence incriminating Russia is found, the hounds of world football will not hesitate to deny Moscow the chance to host the world's biggest sporting event for the first time. In case that happens, someone else will have to step up because Russia or no Russia, the 2018 World Cup will need a home.
Fortunately, there are several countries that are perfectly capable of holding football's premier event at a short notice:
Who better to hold the up than the country that battled with Russia and others for the bid in the first place? It is hard to believe that the country that devised the modern code of our Beautiful Game and has played a pivotal role in elevating where it is has hosted the tournament just once – and almost half a century ago in 1966. Other comparable countries like Germany and Italy have all hosted it twice, but England stands at just one.
While that in itself is reason enough to give them another chance, England more importantly is one of those few countries that have readymade infrastructure, suitable climate and world class stadiums ideal for the tournament. The country is home to the world's biggest and most lucrative football division – the Barclays Premier League – which is why it's already capable of hosting major sporting events and accommodate visiting tourists from all over the world.
Even at a few months' notice, England can and will host a better World Cup than others can with years of preparation.
The joint Portugal/Spain bid finished as runner-up to Russia's winning bid. With two countries sitting in the heart of Europe holding the tourney, it would've offered tourists the joy of football as well as plenty of historical sightseeing opportunities. The joint Iberian bid would've also relieved the burden for any single nation that comes with holding such a mega event.
During the last decade, the success of Spanish clubs has boosted the popularity of Spain among football fans, who would've preferred watching a World Cup match at, say Camp Nou or Santiago Bernabeu instead of Luzhniki Stadium or Zenit Arena.
Like England, Spain also has the tourism friendly infrastructure required to welcome international visitors and could organize the tourney at short notice. Portugal will need some time but it's nothing they couldn't manage if the prize is the 2018 World Cup.
The domestic leagues of Belgium and the Netherlands may not be as big and glamorous as England and Spain's, but they still have the basic setup in place to host the World Cup and absorb the influx of a million visitors from across the globe.
These two neighbors also jointly hosted the Euro 2000 and did a pretty stellar job at that. The World Cup definitely is a bigger beast, but these two at least have some track record of working well together.
One glaring deficiency is the lack of an 80,000-seat stadium in both the Belgium and the Netherlands. It's probably too late to build new stadiums now but several older ones would qualify for renovations that would raise their seating capacity to the required level.
It also bodes well for FIFA's diversity policy as neither Belgium nor the Netherlands has ever hosted the FIFA World Cup despite having a rich football history.
Although Australia competed for and lost the 2022 World Cup bid, it originally planned to apply for the 2018 edition. Considering that it garnered just a single vote in the 2022 bid, it would've tanked even worse had it decided to compete against the far more established European competitors like England, Spain and Russia for the 2018 tourney.
But having said that, there is no doubt that Australia is far more capable of putting on a great tournament than most of the 13 countries that competed for the two World Cups in the highly controversial voting process.
Granted that football isn't as big Down Under as some of their local sports, but the country has a big heart, even bigger stadiums and sports crazy fans who flock in great numbers to venues such as the MCG, Stadium Australia and Docklands Stadium.
Converting Australia's rugby and cricket stadiums into football pitches wouldn't be too hard, while there is always the possibility of involving the neighboring New Zealand if things got out of hand.
Yes, it would create the biggest headline in sports history of Russia is stripped of the World Cup and the tournament is then handed to none other than its archrival – the United States of America.
With the histories these two have, it could even trigger a war. But if one keeps politics out of it, it's a fact that the 1994 World Cup held on American soil remains one of the best ever. With average stadium attendance of 69,000, that tournament created viewership records which stand even today.
The game has come a long way in the U.S. since then, and if the 2018 cup is held in the U.S. then it could become the biggest spectacle our world has ever seen.