Blatter announces Qatar 2022

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There’s a wonderful quote from Cormac McCarthy in his post-apocalyptic survival tale The Road, which reads, “Nobody wants to be here, and nobody wants to leave.” That’s sort of where we’ve found ourselves with the World Cup and Qatar. When the mega-rich country received the surprising bid for the 2022 World Cup in late 2010/early 2011, the world was shocked. It has zero footballing culture, had never qualified for a World Cup or even got into the meat of the Asian Cup. The time zone is obviously a bit of a nightmare, although nations like Japan and South Africa have hosted World Cups recently, and the footballing world got through it. Beyond the obvious (and I mean obvious) concerns about bribery, there were and are very real complaints about potential heating problems in Qatar’s summer months. Some have suggested that temperatures will top 100° and could climb all the way to 120°.

That’s bananas. That is so very, very hot. I know that’s probably breaking analysis you’ve likely never seen or heard before, so you can thank me later for blowing your mind. The Qataris promised to build several stadiums with air conditioning to drop the temperatures by as much as 36°. Still, even with that… But hey, I mean, okay, that’s okay, right? If we get past the fact that they didn’t deserve it and have no footballing culture and likely bought the bid, then at least we can say, Okay, they’re at least doing something

Oh wait. That’s wrong on two levels. For one, they aren’t doing anything. Poor and trapped migrants slaves are building the stadiums and infrastructure needed. And they’re dying by the score, and they’ll continue to die by the score. And second, and I apologize because this doesn’t hold a candle up to the first point, the slave masters aren’t even going to hold up the temperature control end of the bargain. Their own architects say that air conditioned stadiums aren’t feasible. At all.

I am really, really struggling to figure out a merit to Qatar getting the bid, other than that certain rich men will get richer. Look at Brazil. There were horrible socio-economic problems with Brazil’s pre-World Cup plans, but we could sort of try to avert our eyes by saying that football was going home. South Africa now has several empty stadiums, but it was Africa’s first World Cup. But Qatar? Sure, they’re the first Arabic country, and that is notable, but they promised air conditioned stadiums in their bid to make sure the athletes don’t die and they aren’t building them. THEY’RE KILLING PEOPLE FROM IMPOVERISHED COUNTRIES TO BUILD NOT THE STADIUMS THEY PROMISED TO BUILD.
Am I taking crazy pills? Jesus Christ.
I’m sorry. Deep breath.
So, now that we’ve discovered, understood, and were horrified by those things (“nobody wants to be here”), but then accepted them all because it’s the World Cup (“and nobody wants to leave”), where does that leave us?
Since the World Cup was given to Qatar, there have been rumblings that the World Cup will have to be played in November or February. Sports Illustrated’s Grant Wahl reported that the decision to move the World Cup date is all but done, with FIFA’s “It’s Gettin’ Hot In Here” commission likely to recommend the move and then the governing body will rubber stamp it next month.

Wahl said that FIFA hopes to disrupt just one (oh thank you, Mr. FIFA, God bless you) club season through a few clever little methods, including cutting down on international dates. So, what, international teams cram games in over the summer because they likely won’t have the one-to-two week period before the World Cup to play friendlies. So players probably won’t get any break at all and will go straight from club to World Cup back into club. There doesn’t appear to offer any buffer time at all, which will doubtless result in exhausted and potentially injury-prone players.

In terms of logistics, it’s a total nightmare. A total nightmare. It’s preposterous that Qatar received and has kept the World Cup given how toxic it’s been since the start (Phil Ball, I’ll put your name here so you can find this when you Google yourself later), and now the event is set to completely screw with club football because it couldn’t deliver on its promises.

There’s another element at play here. FOX has the broadcasting rights to the 2018, 2022, and now 2026 (more on that in a moment) World Cups. If the World Cup is in November and December, it will be competing with the NFL, NCAA football, and the beginning of NCAA basketball and NBA seasons. In the summer, it competes with next to nothing. But in the winter, that’s the heart of sports season for the US.

Will Fox be pissed? Probably. Almost definitely. Which leads us to the 2026 World Cup and how it was awarded to Fox without ever being open to bidding. The theory goes that FIFA gave Fox the rights as a way of bribing (FIFA? Bribing? Nooo…) or apologizing for hurting Fox’s ratings revenues. Kevin Draper over at Deadspin put this whole theory together, and I recommend you give it a read for more information.

So if the Qatar World Cup hurts broadcasters, players, immigrants, other 2022 bidders (like second-placed U.S.), and everyone in between, why is FIFA keeping it? I don’t know. I suspect it’s the organization putting its foot down, a stubborn showing that its immune to the howling at its door. If you’re more concerned about your power than you are about anything else like Sepp Blatter is, then showing weakness or admitting you made a mistake by moving the World Cup would be a massive blow to your disgustingly inflated ego. And as we’ve learned from Sepp and FIFA before, they don’t care about the sport. It’s a means to an end.

Nobody wants to be here, and nobody wants to leave. Can’t wait.


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