FIFA’s executive committee chose Qatar to host the 2022 World Cup over the U.S., Japan, Australia and South Korea in a secret vote Dec. 2.
Looking at these countries on the surface, how is Qatar the odd man out? Size. Qatar is slightly smaller than Connecticut and half the size of Israel. Every four years, the world’s largest and most popular sporting event, the FIFA World Cup, draws an average of two million fans from across the globe. Qatar currently has a population of 841,000, according to a Houston Chronicle article.
Basically, politics won out again over logic. FIFA’s omnipotent president, Sepp Blatter, is looking for a re-election, and he believes that by awarding Qatar with the 2022 cup and Russia with the cup in 2018, he’s “spreading soccer’s influence.” Of course, with $1 billion in reserves and the intense wealth of oil-rich Qatar, FIFA can afford to take a gamble.
As a soccer fan and a U.S. citizen, I’m naturally disappointed and, though perhaps it sounds a tad dramatic, I’m offended. Although we hosted the cup in 1994 and Qatar has not even played in, let alone hosted a cup 8212; its team is ranked No. 113 8212; one has to consider logic.
Qatar’s average temperature in the summer is around 106 degrees. To solve this, Qatar has promised solar-powered, air conditioned stadiums. It has yet to be proven that the technology will work on such an enormous scale, though.
“I don’t see how you can air condition an entire country,” FIFA committee member Chuck Blazer said.
There is also geography to consider. Let’s not forget Iran is directly across the narrow Persian Gulf, and Iraq lies only a short distance to the northwest. The Middle East is not an area known for its safety and welcoming nature, although this is the perception Qatar obviously is seeking to change. I hate to bring up the fact that there were suicide bombings in South Africa during the 2010 World Cup; how much more of a threat will these be in Qatar?
Projected by the International Monetary Fund to have one of the world’s fastest growing economies this year, Qatar plans to build nine stadiums, renovate three others, construct a rail and metro system and more than double the number of hotel rooms in preparation for the tournament. This is positively fantastic and will no doubt be wonderful; the country obviously has the funds. It still begs the question, though: Will everyone fit?
Although the U.S. could no doubt use the revenue generated by tourism more than Qatar and would be a more logical location, the fact is that FIFA has given a country previously known simply for oil and money the chance to show the world the “new” Middle East and perhaps bring about the change and awareness Blatter and company have proposed.
Andrea Bolt is a senior news-editorial journalism major from The Woodlands.