A World Cup to make HISTORY!!
In 2018, the World Cup will not be held in Spain/Portugal, nor England, nor Netherlands/Belgium. It will be held in Russia–there we will see, no doubt, all sorts of inspiring video-anecdotes about the country and its people–but, maybe not its government. (Wonder what they’re thinking in Georgia . . .)
In 2022, the World Cup will not be held in Australia, nor Japan, nor Korea, nor the USA. It will be held in Qatar (pronounced “cutter”). Qatar is a US ally, sorta. Troops go on leave there when they are deployed and get laid-over there during their transports to and from theater. Most of us don’t know much more other than it’s rolling in oil, so it is a wealthy place, but that’s about it.
So, let me provide you with some random fast-facts about the country that beat the US out for a second go at hosting the World Cup.
Location, location, location!
If you are looking for Qatar, first pull up a map of the Middle East. Find the “boot” of the Arabian peninsula and look for the shoe lace that’s sticking up into the Persian Gulf in the direction of Iran. Qatar, all 11,586 sq km–so, for those of you who speak miles, slightly smaller than CONNECTICUT–is the first Middle Eastern country to ever host the World Cup. According to the “Soccerphile” website, FIFA has ranked Qatar the no. 1 soccer country in the Persian Gulf! Apparently, they are soccer-crazy and have been playing longer than they have had their independence (from Britain, Sept. 3, 1971). The national team has succeeded in winning both the Gulf Cup and the Asian Games. The Asian Games were especially interesting–they hosted and beat Iran in the semi-finals and Iraq in the championship match. Of course, that very fact highlights some of the unique realities that come with holding a major international tournament in a hot region of the globe, both literally and figuratively. It raises some interesting questions. Personally, the one I want to see answered the most is what happens if Iran goes fully nuclear by then? (The U.S. gets the World Cup if Qatar fails to muster . . . now, where is that Magic 8 Ball hiding these days . . .)
The other major issue with Qatar’s location is the climate in that region. If the World Cup was played in the winter, Qatar would be your go-to destination, but it is not. When it is not winter, according to the CIA Factbook, Qatar has “very hot, humid summers”. The Weather Channel website suffered a brain melt-down the moment I submitted Qatar to its search engine, however, according to the Weather Underground website (wunderground.com), summer highs average over 100 degrees Fahrenheit. Not to worry, though, because they are crazy rich and have a great plan to beat the summer heat! Air conditioned stadiums!!! I have no idea how!! But, it is an impressive plan to build the stadiums as carbon-free, solar-powered entities–guess we don’t have those in the US. They are some pretty sweet looking stadiums…
Kill’em with Kindness
One of the really intriguing features of the Qatari bid was that their stadiums will be built in such a way that they can take down portions and use them somewhere else–specifically targeting developing countries. So, in this one bid we have (1) the first Middle East country ever to host, and (2) a host country that is looking to share its wealth and further expand the game–a longtime commitment of Mr. Sepp Blatter’s otherwise controversial reign as the head ref at FIFA.
Plus, they want to make it a green party! How this carbon output is effected by the new public transportation and infrastructure that is going to be added for the event, has yet to be assessed. I do know you cannot deliver all of the world’s soccer hooligans to stadiums by water taxi. Speaking of hooligans, Qatar assured the world that there will be places to drink alcohol somewhere in the country–the one that’s the size of Connecticut. Travel, at least, will be reduced from stadium to stadium–unlike, say in Russia!
So, the next question on the minds of many for this World Cup bid-showdown is simple: did money exchange hands? Does this stink of a gas for football scandal? The world is shocked! Russia beat England–with David Beckham!! Ask yourself this: Are you drawn by Beckham or Putin? Stable democracy and economy or mob-run state? Just a few things I wonder about. As far as selecting Qatar over the US (or Australia, for that matter–a country that has hosted several international sporting events, not least the Olympics, has an enviable climate, great infrastructure and was represented by Nicole Kidman!), the climate, the region and the unbuilt infrastructure–although, again, it’s not like their Russian-size–are all major questions that the US did not have to worry about in its bid. (Oh, and we had Morgan Freeman representing us!)
The Week took a quick look at the controversy, providing a glance at three opinions–two crying foul, one concluding that there was no offsides on the play. Below, are a couple more opinionated reports or blogs regarding FIFA’s 2012 decision.
- Was this about money or soccer? Patrick Rishe answers at Forbes.
- Was there a moral imperative in picking from two regions never before visited? Philip Hersh answers at the Chicago Tribune.
- Reaction from ESPN: http://espn.go.com/sports/soccer/news/_/id/5874550/qatar-russia-host-world-cups-us-shut-out
While the FIFA bids are on the long side–and, not always in English–they also have shorter ads and summaries of each bid’s main points. If you would like to see them follow this link: http://www.fifa.com/worldcup/bidders/live/index.html.