Hey look: It’s Landon Donovan.

On Thursday, FIFA’s 242-man executive committee (or maybe 23-man) will vote to award the 2018 and 2022 World Cup to two lucky host nations. But who’s is going to win? Well… no one really has any idea.

Why?

Because the Ex-Co is the exact opposite of transparent.

Gabriele Marcotti writing in the Wall Street Journal: “Because it’s a political process by secret ballot, pretty much anything goes when it comes to allegations of skullduggery or conspiracy.”

Simon Kuper for the Financial Times: “The campaign to host these World Cups is much like a conclave of cardinals choosing a pope. It’s a campaign waged mostly behind firmly closed doors, and the very secrecy of the process, and the desperation of the nine bidders to win, invites corruption.”

And there’s this as well, from Kuper:

Only the purest of Exco members – Michel Platini, for instance -will vote strictly on quality of bid and the prospect of new markets. Others will be swayed by more political, but equally legitimate, concerns. Most Exco members want something for their votes: often, a vote for their own country. Mohamed bin Hammam, the Qatari Exco member, put this frankly at last month’s Leaders in Football conference in London. “I will be naturally looking to the interests of Qatar,” he said. “All the bidders are telling me, ‘Okay, if you vote for me I will vote for you.’ That must not be surprising to anybody.” He admitted he wouldn’t necessarily vote for the “best” bid, but one that served Qatar’s interests.

So yes, chaos. It’s an embarrassing situation for FIFA, although no one can do anything to stop the potential corruption.

As the world of soccer descends upon Zurich – Landon Donovan, Morgan Freeman, and Bill Clinton are just some of the ambassadors for the United States bid while Premier Vladimir Putin is there on behalf of the Russian bid – the BBC is breaking its own embargoes and getting in hot water for the timing of one television program. Read more