We’re a little more than eight years away from the 2022 World Cup in Qatar. Why are we talking about the 2022 Cup, when the 2014 tournament in Brazil is nearly upon us (and frankly, has a plethora of problems we could be discussing as well)? Simple: With every day that passes, Qatar demonstrates how misguided and wrong FIFA was to award the oil-rich Middle Eastern nation one of the world’s greatest sporting honors.
Thus, before it’s too late, we implore FIFA and its members to strip Qatar of the World Cup. FIFA: You’re making the world an accessory to mass murder, enslavement, trickery and bullshit. Enough is enough.
Look: There is precedent for changing the host nation of a World Cup tournament. In 1974, Colombia was selected to host the 1986 iteration. Due to “economic concerns,” Colombia resigned the opportunity in 1982, a mere four years before the event. Mexico became the replacement and presented the Cup without issue. Qatar, however, will be unlikely to give up their bid — thus, it must be taken from them.
This plea has nothing to do with the fact that the U.S., of which I am a resident, came in second in FIFA voting and would be the obvious choice to replace Qatar. I could not care less where the World Cup is held — unless it’s in Qatar. #AnywhereButQatar. I just made that up. Start trending it.
Here are six reasons why this change must be made as quickly, as in “yesterday” or “tomorrow” — plus a few extra considerations. As the weeks, months and years go by, this list will undoubtedly get longer, unless we do the right thing and strip Qatar of the World Cup now:
1. It appears Qatar bought the bid.
The decision to award Qatar the World Cup was rotten from the jump. Allegations of bribery have been rampant: Back in 2011, FIFA general secretary Jérôme Valcke wrote in an email that Qatar “bought the right to host.” Recently, a story broke about the 10-year-old daughter of a former FIFA executive receiving £2 million in her bank account three years ago. Qatar even bought off French soccer legend Zinedine Zidane, paying him $1 million to support their bid.
Some of these accusations have been retracted, and much of the blame for these allegations lies with FIFA, which appears to be as corrupt as any sporting organization in the world. But the fact remains: votes were almost certainly altered to favor Qatar, and that makes the selection illegitimate. Saying “This happens all the time” is pretty shitty reasoning for keeping the Qatar selection intact.
2. How many more people have to die so we can watch soccer?
A horrifying report released by the International Trade Union Confederation last month estimated that over 4,000 workers will die in the effort to build Qatar’s World Cup infrastructure. Sadly, we already knew that Qatar treats its migrant workers like slaves, with salt water given to them as refreshment and little done to improve reported unsanitary living and working conditions, despite claims by Qatari officials to the contrary.
How many deaths are excusable in the name of building soccer stadiums? Is even one death allowable? If you’d give your life for this cause, please let me know; if not, explain why the lives of Nepalese and Indian workers, who have no one to speak for them save organizations like the ITUC, are worth less? Hundreds have already died in the name of Qatar’s World Cup. How many more before we consider this as bad as, say, 9/11?
3. They’re breaking all the promises they made to secure the Cup in the first place (bribes aside).
Tony Manfred of Business Insider put together a damning collection of promises that Qatar made that are being broken one by one. His list is worth a full read, but here’s the short version:
- Qatar promised 12 World Cup stadiums, some of which would be broken down afterwards and used to create soccer stadiums in developing countries around the world. Now, Qatar will only build eight stadiums, the minimum required by FIFA (Brazil will use 12 stadiums; South Africa had 10).
- Addressing concerns that it would be too hot to play soccer in the summer in Qatar, officials promised a ground-breaking air-conditioning system in each stadium. “The technology works,” they said at the time. Except, it doesn’t — the technology was never tested in World Cup-sized stadiums, and FIFA now considers playing summer soccer in Qatar a “health risk.”
- That means the summer World Cup we’re all used to, and want, probably won’t happen, because, duh, fucking soccer in the Middle East in July?
Here’s an analogy: I promised you I’d take your daughter to the prom, treat her well, and bring her home safely by midnight. I show up at your house with a motorcycle sans helmets, wearing no watch, and a sleeve of condoms trails out of my back pocket. They’re sheepskin condoms, too. Feel duped? You should.
4. It’s going to ruin non-World Cup soccer for months.
There’s a reason the World Cup usually takes place in June and July: most major soccer leagues are on break by then. It’s like how we have no problem with NBA players competing in the Summer Olympics, because it doesn’t take place during the NBA season. Imagine if the NFL took off between Weeks 6 and 7, and we didn’t have American football for five weeks? That’s what will happen to soccer if the Cup is moved to “November and December,” as is expected due to extreme heat in Qatar. Great. Hope the owners (and players) of Barcelona, Real Madrid, Liverpool, Juventus et al. are okay with a mid-season break (spoiler alert: they’re not).
5. It’s going to interfere with the American sports schedule.
Speaking of the NFL, how likely are you to watch a soccer match that coincides with an NFL game? Answer: not very, unless you’re one of those guys who like soccer/futbol more than football. And we’ve got no problem with “those guys,” but one way to make sure 300-something million people from the United States are NOT watching your tournament is to put it on during NFL season. Throw the NHL and NBA in there, and you’ll guarantee a sports-clusterfuck that will kill ratings for Fox Sports, which paid $425 million for the rights to broadcast a (summer) World Cup. *(See the comments section below for further clarification on this point.)
Understand: I get that part of the reasoning for giving Qatar a World Cup was to show how non-Western countries could host a major soccer tournament. But… this clearly isn’t working out. At least not in Qatar. Besides, which market should FIFA cater to if they want to create more soccer fans: Qatar (population: 2.05 million) or the United States?
6. The longer we wait, the harder it will be for another nation to step in.
Mexico was able to take hosting duties for Cup from Colombia and put on a quality tournament within four years. That doesn’t mean a four-year turnaround was the smart thing — it was the necessary thing. The longer we wait to award this duty to another country, the more difficult it will be to handle all the logistics required. We cannot wait until the last possible moment to do this. It has to happen soon. Let’s stop supporting this farce and give this honor to a country that won’t waste billions of dollars and countless lives on an ego trip.
BONUS REASONS: FIFA president Sepp Blatter admits giving the tournament to Qatar “may have been a mistake”; homosexuality is illegal in Qatar, and Blatter cautioned gay people not to engage in “sexual activities” when they’re there; no beer in the stadiums?; the Qatari national soccer team is ranked 95th in the world –so, actually, if the U.S. can get into the same group as Qatar, maybe we’ll keep the tournament there after all. Just kidding.
FIFA, admit it: You fucked up. It’s okay — we all make mistakes. There’s still time to right your wrongs. Take the 2022 World Cup away from Qatar, before it’s too late.
Photo via Getty