MOSCOW – Germany came out of its shell, South Africa exceeded expectations and Russia changed negative perceptions when they all hosted the World Cup but just what will unfold in four years' time when the tournament goes to Qatar is anyone's guess.
There is only one certainty – it will be an event like no other.
The small gulf kingdom, which stretches only 180km from one end to the other, is unlike any previous host with little sporting tradition, a population of just over 2.5 millions, has never played at the World Cup and is so hot in the customary mid-year window for the tournament that it has moved towards the end of the year.
But what oil-rich Qatar does have is fabulous wealth, enough to persuade FIFA to allow them to host even though that selection process has since been clouded by allegations of bribery.
The first Arab country to host the event are planning eight new stadiums for the tournament, with one completed, two more due this year and the rest scheduled to be finished by 2021. None is more than 35km from the centre of the capital Doha and all serviced by a brand new metro system.