, ,

If I manage to get this posted in time, then tomorrow will be when Brazil are hosting the World Cup. If not, it’ll be on-going so my title will be slightly less impressive, but still get the point across.

I was involved in a conversation about hosting the World Cup earlier today, and faced the statement that ‘England could host the World Cup tomorrow’. Now, I’m not anti-England, and certainly not anti-England-hosting-big-events, but it seemed a little stretch to me. So I thought I’d investigate whether there was any credence to the statement.

Firstly, I decided that I wouldn’t be able to cover infrastructure. I would have to take it as read that the nations who have hosted World Cups have acceptable infrastructure, and those that bid will install it anyway. I was more interested in the stadia that would be needed to host the games – if a country were to step in as an emergency host, it would need places to host matches in situ already – else what would be the point.

So I needed to know what had gone before. Here’s a quick hit of graphs detailing World Cup stadia since 1974.

Firstly, there’s the number of stadia each country uses.


Clearly, there’s a general trend of around ten. There’s twelve in Brazil, but four of the last seven tournaments have used ten stadia. Ten, then.

Secondly, there’s the size of the stadia – here’s the averages for that; again, we seem to be settled on around 50,000 – admittedly that tends to be because of a few around 40,000 and a much bigger ‘main’ stadium for the final, but 50,000 is the average we’re working on.


Thirdly, then, there’s the stadia size in a little more depth.

Seldom are stadia of fewer than 40,000 allowed to host World Cup games; Rustenberg in 2010 was the first since France 1998 when five (Nantes, Toulouse, St Etienne, Bordeaux and Montpellier were all in the 30,000s) fell below that figure. Judging by the stock-broking graph, it seems that all stadia need to fall between 40,000 and 60,000 (or more) and there needs to be 10 of them.


That’s a decent blueprint for what to look for, to be honest.

I’ve collated all the football stadia in the world with capacities of over 40,000 and this is a count of countries that fit the ’10 or more football stadia with 40,000 seats or above’ category. There’s some familiar names on there isn’t there? I took the liberty of highlighting in yellow the countries that haven’t hosted a World Cup as yet.


Thinking on, I guessed that some stadia would be able to host World Cup games despite not being, today, specialist football venues. Here’s a mammoth graph detailing how many of those with higher than 30,000 capacity each country has. We have similar outliers here in China and the USA, but there’s a special clutch of 11 nations that can boast twenty stadia with 30,000 or more. These are the ones that would have to come into consideration in just such an event as an emergency World Cup host or possibly even just as a host of the tournament in future – as there seems little point continuing to allow countries to build stadia that end up as white elephants for no good reason.


Those 11 nations in full; Argentina (25), Brazil (36), China (99), England (41), Germany (36), India (47), Italy (26), Japan (33), South Korea (56), Spain (24), USA (181).

So, could England host a World Cup tomorrow? You know what, they probably could.