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FIFA Travesty

December 2, 2010 Leave a comment Go to comments

FIFA's Sepp Blatter announcing the 2022 World Cup host

[Shaun Botterill/Getty Images]

FIFA announced the host countries for the 2018 and 2022 soccer World Cup today. It had already been established that the 2018 World Cup would be in Europe, and Russia had been considered a front runner, so it was no great surprise when they were selected. For 2022, the US and Qatar were perhaps widely considered the two favorites, so it was perhaps no surprise either when Qatar was chosen. But as unsurprising as the result may have been, it served only to lend credence to the belief that the entire process is corrupt, as are many FIFA officials.

Let’s start with the obvious. Why would anyone schedule a sporting event in Qatar in the summer? Why in particular schedule the most widely watched sporting event? Would the answer have something to do with money? It’s hard to think of any other explanation.

The US did have the disadvantage of having been a World Cup host just sixteen years ago. Fellow finalists Japan and South Korea served as joint hosts just eight years ago. Yet if the priority were to award the honor to a country new to hosting, the remaining finalist, Australia, would have been an excellent choice.

There probably isn’t much point in being shocked by the behavior of FIFA. Just frustrated. Let me turn to Sports Illustrated’s soccer expert, Grant Wahl, for more.

Choosing Qatar and Russia is the biggest indictment possible that FIFA is not a clean organization. The message here is that petrodollars talk. For an outfit that likes to thump its chest and claim that it is not corrupt (Trust us, says FIFA president Sepp Blatter), having two oil-wealthy winners is the clearest message possible that FIFA needs a complete overhaul in its leadership and organization. Russia had a pretty good case for being chosen, but Qatar (which was funded heavily by its government and bought the support of celebrity endorsers) didn’t make a lot of sense in the first place. Get ready for searing summer heat in the Middle East!

The pity is, a World Cup here in 12 years would have been extraordinary. Not only is the quality of play in the US better and better, not only are more US players having an impact in the top European leagues, but US fans are increasingly sophisticated about soccer worldwide. I get to observe this daily in my own house. Joel, and he is surely typical of many in his generation, follows all the major European leagues and knows all the top players in the world. I learn a lot from him. The next World Cup in the US, whenever it occurs, and I hope I get to see it, will be something special.

Categories: Politics, Sports
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