So, too 2022….
Millions of football fans around the world are still wondering how Qatar ultimately won the rights to host the 2022 World Cup. Yet in the end FIFA was seduced and “sold” by Qatar’s promise of a high-tech tournament.
I always maintained Australia was arguably punching above its weight in trying to secure the hosting rights to 2022, yet I also consistently argued we had a solid bid and our real and only rival, and favourite, was the United Sates of America. Exactly how the tiny Emirate state which has a climate conducive to hell on earth and its capital, Doha, is according to Lonely Planet, “the dullest place in the world” secured the rights over the mighty United States is about as impressive and moreover, believable as me getting lucky with Megan Gale.
And Jennifer Hawkins.
On the same night…..
Not only did the win leave me breathless, but more so, the gravity of same – 11 votes in the first round to the United States’ 3….14 votes in the fourth round to the United States’ 8!
Some of the reasons why I was, and will continue to be shocked by the Qatar win include:
-Heat – the average temperatures in June and July are a whopping 41 and 46 degrees celsius, respectively;
-Potential terrorist attacks/threats;
-The fact there will be ten stadiums within a 25 kilometre radius of Doha which was deemed incapable of hosting the (2016) Olympic Games only last year; and
-Restrictions on the consumption of alcohol.
To counter these problems Qatar has promised, amongst other things:
-Airconditioned stadiums which will be solar powered and therefore, carbon neutral. What effect will airconditioning have on the “ball”? It may make the Jabulani (which was used at this year’s last World Cup and branded by many as like playing with a beach ball), appear “normal”?!; and
-Fans will be able to drink alcohol in specially designed areas called “fan zones”. Will Doha, I mean Qatar, have room to fit these fan zones? Will they be air conditioned too?!
I’ll believe it when I see it.
For now, it is a fictional tale.
Just like Qatar’s bid video which was largely set in the future and the country shown as it “might” be in 2022.
The abovementioned concerns are shared by many, including FIFA. In fact, Qatar received the worst technical report of all the bidding nations from FIFA (for instance, FIFA labelled the punishing heat “a potential health risk”) and was the lowest ranked by FIFA’s own independent inspectors.
Yet FIFA still awarded Qatar the World Cup!
In the words of Paul Dalligan, “I have now seen it all”.
So, too the conspiracy theories…..I’m no investigative journalist but the following just doesn’t wash with me:
-How secretive was the voting when Qatari state owned broadcaster, al-Jazeera reported the result before Sepp Blatter opened his envelope and informed the world? And what of Qatari officials who were reportedly seen embracing one another and appeared relaxed in the lead up to same whilst Frank Lowy looked like he needed a year’s supply of Gastro Stop to curb his anxiety?
-What did Mohamed Bin Hamman say to Reyanld Temarii (the Oceania member who was suspended from voting for his part in an undercover newspaper sting) when he met him in Kuala Lumpur last week and shortly thereafter, Temarii stated he would proceed with his appeal, thereby allowing Oceania not to be represented in the ballot? Lest we forget that Temarii was quoted as saying he would have voted for Australia. To add salt to the wound, Hamman supported Temarii’s decision (to proceed with his appeal).
-The fact the Qataris were able to sponsor the Confederation of African Football Congress on 29 January 2010 and in doing so secured “exclusive” rights to make presentations to African delegates, including FIFA executive committee member, Issa Hayatou. Does that name sound familiar?! If not, read my last blog! In short, he has been accused of accepting bribes in the past! Australia, and the other 2022 bidding nations, could only attend the event as “observers” and could not organise press conferences.
Which brings me to my final point….
The integrity of the World Cup bidding process has been damaged and the system of bidding within FIFA ranks must change.
Transparency is needed.
In awarding the 2022 World Cup to Qatar (and the 2018 World Cup to Russia) does FIFA really care about the fans who have made the game what it is today? It would appear not. FIFA does not appear concerned if a supporter is subjected to a violent racist attack in Moscow or another dies of heat exhaustion whilst playing, “Let’s find the nearest watering hole” in Doha. I have no doubt that any of the other bidding nations would have delivered a better experience for the football fan than the eventual winners.
The “beautiful” game and its loyal fans, stands to lose.
Mark “The F Word” Fiorenti