SOLD? Russia and Qatar to host World Cup in 2018 & 2022

SOLD? Russia and Qatar to host World Cup in 2018 & 2022


It’s tempting to claim that bribes, favours, politics and financial opportunity determined the fates of World Cups 2018 and 2022 long before the staged drama of bid presentations yesterday and today.

It’s easy to say that Blatter is taking the World Cup to Russia to make money, or that Qatar got the World Cup to build Blatter’s legacy.

The truth is that on paper, based on the evaluation reports and on existing state of affairs, Russia was the weakest candidate for 2018 with more promise and risk than the guarantee of a quality World Cup that would delight fans, teams, viewers and sponsors. Qatar had little risk (their Middle East location does not automatically make it a potential war zone) but with little or no footballing pedigree and a small country sitting on the equator, it’s not the ideal spot to spend your summer kicking about a ball.

No, there are many practical reasons why Spain / Portugal, Netherlands / Belgium or England should be hosting 2018. There are strong reasons to suggest that the World Cup should have gone to Australia in 2022. But we have the two weakest candidates winning the votes, so there is bound to be suspicion.

Unless you consider something very basic about how FIFA operates – it values independence and privacy over everything else, and no other bidding nations would provide them with a carte blanche as Russia and Qatar – the two countries with the most to gain in political capital (and therefore the most to give out to FIFA as well) from hosting the World Cup.

In hindsight we should have seen it coming. Vote selling is not as simple as envelopes passed under a table or money transfered into an offshore numbered account. Just like in the aftermath of a war, there will be political favours, development contracts and much other financial jinking to ensure that everyone associated with FIFA (as well as those responsible for delivering the World Cup in Russia and Qatar) will profit.

And then there is the very legitimate argument that bringing the World Cup to new frontiers is a good thing for both the game and the development of the host country. That definitely applies in the case of Russia, provided they truly can deliver what they have promised. It doesn’t apply to Qatar, unless you consider bringing the World Cup to the Middle East as a political achievement for FIFA, and that is where all roads lead to – politics and FIFA.

Image courtesy of Soccerlens contributor Lawrence Dushenski.

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  1. Politics? Please. International football has always been about politics. Throw in Sepp and his cronies, and you can add graft to that equation.

  2. From 2004 U.S. State Department Report on Qatar: “Citizens did not have the right to peacefully change their government. The Government severely limited the rights of assembly and association. The Government restricted freedom of religion, although it continued to take some steps to ease restrictions on the practice of non-Muslim religions. The law and social customs restricted women’s rights. The Government severely restricted workers’ rights. At times, some domestic servants were mistreated and abused. Noncitizens, who make up more than 75 percent of local residents, faced discrimination in the workplace. The country also was a destination for trafficked persons.” Nice going, FIFA!

  3. Qatar is currently ranked 104th in the world according to the ranking system devised by the very body that awarded this nation with the World Cup. I can’t imagine what the lasting legacy of the World Cup will do for Qatar as football is already a popular sport there. Forget the heat aspect for one second. Will fans be allowed to consume alcohol? If not, does FIFA alienate traditional sponsors such as Budweiser? Will women be allowed into the stadia? What will happen if women fans start dressing in their skimpy outfits (a trend that has exponentially grown over the past three World Cups)? Lashings? Sharia court hearings? And security threats? I know Korea had the same questions hanging over its heads with North Korea, but we’re hosting the World Cup in a country within close proximity to bases operated by Al Qaeda and other extremist groups with agendas. It’s not totally irrelevant (although I’m not saying that Qatar or their government endorses their actions). With all these points, it really underscores how money walks and talks with FIFA. It’s no longer “For the Good of the Game,” rather, “For the Good of our Wallets.”

  4. These are my thoughts exactly. These are countries where FIFA can get away with anything and the money can flow freely without any awkwardness about laws and taxes. Getting the referees sorted will be small change after this.

  5. Only one answer to this, and it starts with YOU.
    Boycott ALL international games, including injury spawning friendlies. By not attending or watching these mostly sub-par venues you will send a message to Mr. Blather and company that corruption and graft have no place in the Beautiful Game.Viewership ratings + gate receipts = money in FIFA coffers. Don’t succumb to 19th century nationalist and medieval anti-democratic religious shite; there should be plenty of great football action at the club level year after year to keep us happy. I know that it’s easier said than done. Be strong. Even a modest drop in viewership will hit these leeches where it hurts.
    I, for one will take a quiet vacation every four years, under a palm tree with a good book and plenty of little umbrella drinks…

  6. Come on… Blatter might be dead by then…How boycotting all soccer games until the associated FA breakaway from FIFA?

  7. Its time now to make a stand against corruption, this farce we all witnessed will rightly provoke the reactions that are justified against FIFA.
    The only solution to this injustice is to boycott all International games, and develope an alternative to the world cup, and run it at the same time as the world cup finals, maybe then the officials from FIFA will change the way they do business.

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