When Qatar was awarded the 2022 FIFA World Cup, the reaction was a mixture of shock and outrage. That outrage will not be dimmed by today’s sheepish admission by the country’s prime minister that he doesn’t know anything about soccer.
Qatar’s Prime Minister Hamad bin Jassim bin Jabr al Thani (we’ll just go with “al Thani” for short) said at a joint press conference today in Doha with British Prime Minister David Cameron:
“I have to admit that I am very weak in the sport, I don’t know the rules.”
Perhaps realizing that his quote may sound bad, al Thani went on to say:
“I like sport, of course, but I am not involved in sport,” he said. “I suspect Fifa chose Qatar for 2022 to take it to different grounds, different culture, different geography. This shows that football is international.”
But taking a sport to a different grounds that isn’t exactly a soccer/football hotbed? That’s not going to make many people happy, especially those from nations ousted by Qatar in the bidding process.
Since Qatar was selected, the organization of the 2022 tournament has been rocky, to say the least. Besides being very hot, very small, and very intolerant of drinking, Qatar has also had to deal with the furor surrounding FIFA President Sepp Blatter’s request that World Cup tourists refrain from homosexual activity.
There is one thing, however, that could endear the world to Qatar’s tournament – playing the games during the winter. Even though FIFA is set on staging the Cup during the summer, al Thani is still open to asking the Qatari population whether they would prefer it be played during the cooler winter months.
That would mean that soccer fans would only have to wait three and a half years between World Cups, instead of the usual four. That’s an idea we can all get behind.
World Economic Forum photo (Christof Sonderegger, via