The not so beautiful game

With the world cup due to kick off any day now, again FIFA is mired in controversy, amid yet more allegations of corruption at the most senior levels. And again it all goes back to the decision a few years ago to host the 2022 world cup in Qatar.

That corruption and much exchanging of brown envelopes was involved in Qatar’s world cup bid should only come as a surprise to the very naive. However, what is more surprising is the bungling incompetence of FIFA in not keeping a lid on this.

Clearly the idea of holding a world cup in +40’C of heat 😳 is something only someone who lives in a yesman bubble (like Blatter) could approve. And the heat and corruption are merely the tip of the impracticalities of Qatar 2022.

For example, of the 12 stadia Qatar has promised, only 3 currently exist (and typically have a capacity under 30,000) and its seems doubtful they could upgrade and complete the rest in time. Indeed in the case of at least one of the stadiums its host city (Lusail City) doesn’t even exist yet either! 88|

Indeed Qatar, perhaps sensing they’ve bitten off far more than they can chew, they are trying to cut the number of stadiums to just 8. Which given the projected $200 billion cost of the games, is hardly surprising, as we’re into sums of money now that would stretch the finances of even an oil rich state like Qatar.

And again just to put Qatar’s unsuitability in context, a couple of years ago Ireland along with Wales and Scotland made a joint bid to host the European championships. It was rejected on the basis that we lacked the infrastructure…yet now FIFA has awarded an event larger tournament to a country with an eighth the relative population and practically no footballing infrastructure, nevermind all the hotels, airports, transport infrastructure, etc. needed to host a major international tournament :??:.

And that’s before they build the massive air conditioned dome over the whole country!…Incidentally, a key part of Qatar’s case was that they would build air conditioned stadiums. But Qatar’s own architects and engineers are highlighting the technical difficulties in doing this!

And yes, I do realise there’s never been a world cup held in the Middle East, but there are far better candidates as hosts, notably Iran, Egypt (okay not the best choice of location at the moment!), Tunisia or Turkey (okay, not quite the Middle east, but you get the message!). All of these countries have a strong footballing tradition. And unlike Qatar all have actually qualified for the world cup at some point…although one would have to hope if the games went to Iran that America and Israel don’t qualify!

Boycott?
There are calls for a re-vote, however given the corruption inherent within FIFA and the unwillingness of the Swiss to do anything about it, I suspect the time has come for Western nations, notably the UK, to step up to the plate and take action.

An immediate travel ban on all FIFA officials one be one idea (or else just haul the first lot of them who land in the country away for questioning for a few days and that’s the last time they’ll stop off in a European airport!).

One has to consider whether the UK and other UEFA nations should also now consider leaving FIFA.

However I would propose a far more effective, but less radical solution – that UEFA should boycott the world cup. Not just the 2022 world cup, but also the 2018 tournament in Russia (which, like the Sochi games, will likely be little more than an ego trip for Putin). In both 2018 and 2022 we could play an interim international tournament at the same time the world cup is on, which would be particularly effective if other footballing nations, notably in the America’s were invited to join in.

Should any footie fans be nervous about the thought that they want to see if England can finally win the tournament in 2022 or 2018 (or whether Scotland or Ireland can actually remain in longer than a tea bag! :))), don’t worry it’s a nuclear option that would never have to be implemented. Sepp Blatter will blink first, resign and FIFA will re-run the voting. And they will do so for the very reason they backed Qatar – money. If none of the European and many of the South and North American teams don’t show up in 2018 or 2022 that means no major sponsors of the tournament and no sale of TV rights. FIFA would be as well off hosting the tournament on the moon!….although that would at least solve the cooling problems!

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