Amidst the sadness and inhumanity of Qatar’s massive build-up to their wholly illicit and ill-gotten 2022 World Cup, Americans were given reason to smile: We were frontrunners to host the tournament should it be formally revoked. Sure, that’s 8 years from now, when our next President would be seeking a second term and the J.J. Abrams Star Wars sequels would be wrapping up, but it’d be worth the wait (and for a good cause).
We like soccer over here now, so a domestic World Cup would be unequivocally massive — even if it had to take place during the same summer the iPhone 10 released.
Well, American soccer fans, your wait might have just shortened. In light of the recent airliner tragedy in a disputed area of the Ukraine, the prospect of Putin (who almost certainly supplied the SAMs that took down Malaysia flight MH17) losing the 2018 World Cup (to be held in Russia) has now officially been floated as a viable way to punish the increasingly aggressive Russian regime.
[Daily Beast] How does one punish the autocratic, omnipotent president of a quasi-superpower? It is much harder to do so than to spank the piddling ruler of a smallish rogue state, but options exist. Putin believes that a World Cup in Russia can be sold to his people as an endorsement of his rule. Why should the world become an accomplice in a dictator’s Ponzi scheme of pride? As he preened for the cameras at the World Cup final in Rio de Janeiro on July 13, it was clear that Putin regards Russia’s staging of the cup’s next edition as a propaganda godsend, a global vote for his achievements. Imagine his consternation if he were prevented from putting on such a show.
…But for Putin, money and sport are tools, or weapons. Hosting the World Cup is the weapon he uses to prove to his people that he is all-powerful, that there is no point in opposing him. In letting him host that cup, we all become part of that weapon.
Finishing second in the 2022 World Cup voting in a host selection process that was tainted by bribes, the United States is definitely owed THAT tournament. But what about 2018? Which country stands next in line in the event FIFA revokes Russia’s hosting privledge?
It’s hard to say. On one hand, it’d make sense if four new potential hosts — the United States included — held a revote to determine who would get World Cup 2018. On the other hand, 193 Dutch died in last Thursday’s incident, and they were making a strong push to host with neighboring countries Belgium and Luxembourg.
Either way, the opportunity presents itself for FIFA and Sepp Blatter to win back some small shred of integrity after proving themselves to be one of the more corrupt non-profit organizations on Earth. Sure, taking the 2018 World Cup from Russia won’t win any wars — diplomatic or otherwise — but it’d be the right thing to do. Afterall, if there’s anything to be learned from the downing of Malaysia flight MH-17, it’s that you shouldn’t give huge, powerful things to irresponsible people.