Nearly four years ago, FIFA shocked the world when soccer’s lead organization selected the Middle Eastern nation of Qatar to host the 2022 World Cup over the United States.
Ever since that day FIFA President Sepp Blatter, a man Rob Ford-esque in character when it comes to leadership buffoonery, and the oil-rich nation have failed to justify the selection. In the early aftermath of Qatar’s awarding, Blatter was asked how homosexual fans should feel about traveling to a country with stringent anti-gay policies. Blatter responded that gay fans should “refrain from sexual activity” during the World Cup. The controversial president tried to pass of the comments as a joke, which didn’t exactly help his cause.
Disturbingly, the social issues surrounding the Qatar Cup are far from the most pressing. Qatar lacks the infrastructure to host a World Cup. This isn’t unique. Every host country goes through a number of renovations prior to the tournament. Even soccer-mad Brazil has spent billions of dollars updating its dilapidated stadiums and transportation systems in preparation for this summer’s tournament. Qatar, though, doesn’t have a single stadium capable of hosting a World Cup match. Now, thousands of migrant workers will risk their lives to erect (no pun intended) the palaces of grandeur that the Qatar Football Association presented to FIFA in 2010. Sorry, let me rephrase that. Four thousand migrant workers will die during World Cup construction.
We haven’t even mentioned the soccer yet or, in the host country’s case, the lack thereof. Qatar currently sits 103rd in the FIFA world rankings, sandwiched between perennial powers Lithuania and Niger. Neither of those nations will compete at the 2022 World Cup barring a miracle. Qatar, as hosts, will.
The 2022 World Cup endeavor has been an unmitigated disaster by any stretch of the imagination. Even FIFA’s head inspector, Harold Mayne-Nicholls, called the choice “a mistake.” His greatest concerns are weather-related. Temperatures in Qatar climb well past 100 degrees during the World Cup months of June and July. Such extreme heat would endanger not only the players competing but also the myriad of fans who make the trip. While the organizers promised special cooling technology to keep everyone safe, skeptics remain.
In fact, according to Sky News, FIFA announced this week that it will not play the World Cup during the summer months at all. In all likelihood, the tournament will be played between mid-November 2022 and early January 2023. All major European leagues including the Barclays Premier League, Italy’s Serie A, Spain’s La Liga, Germany’s Bundesliga and France’s Ligue 1 will have to halt play to accommodate the sport’s biggest event. In addition, World Cup qualifying will have to be rescheduled as well.
It’s hard to believe really. Murphy’s Law springs to mind, but evoking it excuses the ignorance of the world’s most powerful sporting body. The choice of Qatar over the United States, and even South Korea who was the other finalist, is even more baffling today than it was in 2010. Nothing good has come from the selection. With eight years left before kickoff in Qatar, it’s not too late to change.
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