As negotiations over the 2022 Qatar World Cup continue, Jacob Mignano offers his own vitriolic assessment of the farcical process…
It’s hard to believe I’ve never written anything about the 2022 FIFA World Cup in Qatar that hasn’t been neatly summed up in 140 characters. Such is my outrage, I feel Twitter is not an adequate medium through which to sufficiently summarise my feelings. That changes now.
Ever since the competition was awarded to Qatar I have tried my best to bite my tongue and just get on with it. Honestly, I was so incredulous at FIFA’s decision to overlook England as the host of the 2018 World Cup in favour of Russia, that when it was announced a short while later that Qatar had pipped the U.S.A and Australia to the post, I assumed it was just a very elaborate joke. As time passed though, I began to understand. Why hold the World Cup in the home of football, a country with one of the world’s most competitive leagues and some of the world’s finest stadiums already in place, when you can hold it across seven time-zones, on plastic pitches linked together by 24-hour bus journeys? I suppose for the same reason you’d choose to hold a World Cup in the sweltering heat of a country almost half the size of Wales.
(Oh, what’s that you say? They both have oil? Well, why didn’t you say so before?)
I’m barely going to touch on the whole situation regarding human rights in Qatar, including bumbling Blatter’s comments suggesting that homosexuals “should refrain from any sexual activities” whilst in the country. His later, laughable claim that “we are definitely living in a world of freedom and I’m sure when the World Cup will be in Qatar in 2022, there will be no problems,” was the equivalent of a five-year-old sticking his fingers in his ears and screaming “la la la, not listening.” Of course, an attitude of “fuck it, by the time the World Cup rolls round in 12 years time everything will have sorted itself out” is exactly the kind of forward planning you want from the most powerful man in football. Even if it has, alas, come to be what we expect from him.
But I digress.
Instead of focusing on that, I’m choosing to focus purely on one man’s relentless pursuit of his demented vision for a winter World Cup. Sepp Blatter, unfortunately, is a moron. It can’t be helped. Saying the decision to award the World Cup to Qatar was a result of corruption is pure conjecture, but at the very least it was a severe lack of judgement on the part of a body whose President is severely lacking in any. When Blatter, thanks to allegations of corruption (familiar pattern emerging here), was able to run unopposed for re-election, it guaranteed us football fans another god-knows-how-many-years of blithering stupidity and blundering attempts to wreck the game we love. The first attempt of which is to take a competition which is played almost religiously in the summer, at the end of the football season, and plonk it right in the middle of the football league calendar, wrecking every major league in the process. And just because he can. That’s democracy for you.
The news that FIFA will not vote in favour of a winter World Cup until proper talks have taken place means little. They are still expected to agree to moving the competition, meaning that this pretence is merely tantamount to a hollow admission that they realise the decision is wrong, but are not going to do anything about it.
And the decision is wrong. Not because it will ruin the football calendar. Not because it will fundamentally change the World Cup as we know it. But because Qatar was awarded the World Cup on the basis of the bid they submitted back in 2010. A bid that had no mention of moving the competition to the winter. It was an astonishing lack of foresight from both Qatari officials and FIFA not to take into account the searing heat that would make holding the World Cup in the summer unviable. If indeed the Qataris had said from the outset that they wanted a winter World Cup, I’d have no problem. I’d still be set against the idea of holding a summer tournament in the winter, but I wouldn’t be crying foul about it. I have a sneaking suspicion, however, that had the Qatari bid suggested moving the World Cup, we wouldn’t currently be talking about Qatar 2022. It’s a ridiculous situation that Blatter, when faced with the issue of Qatar’s blistering summer temperatures, can simply turn around and decide to move the competition to the winter. That’s like me asking my friends round for Christmas, only to turn around and tell them I’m going to be holding it in June, because it’s a bit too cold at that time of year. The only possible resolution for FIFA, given the allegations of corruptions and the logistical problems of holding a summer World Cup in Qatar, is to completely re-open the voting process. Unless that happens, the 2022 World Cup will be an utter farce.
Right now, I couldn’t care less if England make it to Qatar 2022 or not. In fact I hope they don’t, and we can get on with our Christmas dinners and our New Year’s celebrations, with no reason to glue ourselves to our televisions and watch this pointless charade unfold.