Friday, June 24, 2011

Argentina 2023 - Make a Statement

1930-2022 FIFA World Cups hosts
Is rugby truely a global sport? This is the central question that the IRB need to answer when determining future Rugby World Cup hosts. 

If the answer is yes then the question is why will Australia, England, France, New Zealand, Ireland, Scotland and Wales all have hosted or co-hosted two or more World Cup´s before the Americas continents have ever hosted one? On the other hand, if the answer is no then there is a clear need to prevent the previous hosts from hosting again.

Surely new hosts are needed to demonstrate that, whether percieved or not, rugby has the world in mind and is looking well beyond the traditional frontiers. This is where Argentina stands out head and shoulders above all other potential hosts as it is the only semi finalist in the history of the Rugby World Cup to never have hosted and it can tick all the necessary boxes ranging from rugby in the country to comercial viability to history to stadiums.

Argentina hosted the 1978 FIFA World Cup and did so using six stadiums that have all seen Los Pumas play international rugby matches in recent years. The country also hosted the 2011 Copa América soccer tournament which featured twelve countries from the Americas with matches being played at eight venues across the country. All of the host cities have also all hosted international rugby matches in recent years. Not only have Los Pumas utilized different cities for international matches, but they have also received strong support with Argentine fans showing up in big number to support their team.

In addition to Argentina, five other countries from the Americas have hosted FIFA World Cup´s. The first ever World Cup was hosted by Uruguay in 1930, Brazil hosted in 1950, Chile in 1962, Mexico in 1970 and 1986, the USA in 1994 and Brazil will host its second FIFA World Cup in 2014. The Americas have not only hosted a large number of FIFA World Cup tournaments but have also been highly successful in the tournaments themselves.

Nine of the nineteen FIFA World Cup´s to this day have been won by South American countries. Brazil have won five times and both Argentina and Uruguay have won twice each. Two others have been semi finalists in the form of Chile and the USA. The remaining ten FIFA World Cup´s have all been won by European countries, as shown on the subsequent map.

In the history of the FIFA World Cup there has never been a finalist from a country from outside of Europe or South America. In nineteen tournaments, only once have countries from other parts of the world made it to the semi finals. South Korea and Turkey were losing finalists in the 2002 FIFA World Cup. Despite such a lack of genuine global competitiveness, Soccer World Cup hosts have been increasingly becoming global. Japan and South Korea hosted the 2002 event, South Africa hosted 2010 and Russia and Qatar have been confirmed to host in 2018 and 2022.

None of these teams have done what Los Pumas have done in rugby -  finshing third in a World Cup. The IRB needs to stand tall and make a statement to the world. Not only can future tournament hosts come from new places but they ought to as well. Rugby World Cup 2023 should go to Argentina. It would be making a huge statement - having a Rugby World Cup in the Soccer continent.

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