Kicked Out by Qatar

Qatar won the right to host the 2022 World Cup Thursday morning over Australia, USA, South Korea, and Japan. How did a country with no soccer history, 110-degree summer heat and a team ranked in the upper hundreds of the FIFA National Rankings earn the right to host the World Cup? Allegations of corruption and vote collusion have been rampant. Two members of the FIFA selection panel, Reynald Temarii (Tahiti and the head of Oceania) and Amos Adamu (Nigeria) were recently suspended for a year based on allegations against them. Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin withdrew himself from the scene of the bidding process a day before his country’s presentation because of the corruption. Though America’s bid seemed stale in comparison to the others(preaching diversity, already completed infrastructure, and the success of the 1994 World Cup here), and South Korea and Japan just joint-hosted in 2002, Qatar was considered an outsider at first. Australia and the US were the favorites but Qatar was steadily gaining momentum until the vote. Now that they’ve won, questions remain. It will be another twelve years before we truly see how they handle the pressure of holding the world’s biggest tournament, and most fans are disappointed with the selection. Qatar, a Middle Eastern emirate with enormous wealth, provides a new stomping ground for FIFA. They can expand football’s popularity to a previously undeveloped (football-wise) region. The country plans to build nine new stadiums and renovate three. Though their plans for the stadiums include air-conditioning and beautiful state-of-the-art architecture, infrastructure questions remain. In a country smaller than Connecticut, all the stadiums will be within an hour’s drive. While this seems good news for fans who have to zip from stadium to stadium to follow their favorite team, it is bad news for roads and traffic. Traffic jams should abound and could create a huge transportation problem, with fans and teams unable to get to their stadium on time. Additionally, there have been questions about whether Israel would be allowed to compete should they qualify (though the Qatar bidding team did their best to dispel these rumors), safety, and alcohol (all alcoholic beverages are illegal in the Muslim state). The negatives of holding a tournament in Qatar are overwhelming. The alcohol question (I’ll be 29 in 2022) is of paramount importance, with the World Cup usually a festive, sometimes overly alcoholic event. The heat will be difficult on players though maybe not much worse than tournaments in Mexico or games played in southern California during the US tourney. The ambitious plans of the Qatari government are commendable, and their success should provide a wonderful tournament, but I doubt they will fulfill all their promises. How can they promise safety in a region so hostile to the West? Qatar, surrounded by Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates (two mostly western-friendly nations), is also just across the Persian Gulf from Iran—a nation certainly less friendly. As an American, I, of course wanted the tournament to come to my home country, but would have also understood an Australian hosting—a country that recently successfully hosted the Olympics and have never had a World Cup. The decision to give Qatar the 2022 World Cup is befuddling to me and I was very disappointed with FIFA’s decision. Jesse Bielasiak is a four-year Senior from Bloomington, IN and a Features Editor for The Phillipian.