The ludicrous decision by FIFA to award Qatar the rights to host the 2022 World Cup is looking dafter and dafter with every passing FIFA meeting, think-tank or committee charged with making this World Cup happen.
It appears to be one problem after another since the Arab state was charged with hosting the largest sporting event in the world. If it isn’t the countries archaic laws causing issues, it’s the unrelenting climate, or the lack of footballing culture.
These problems alone are more than enough to consider changing the location of the tournament. When coupled alongside the continuing allegations of corruption and FIFA wrongdoing, the decision to take the World Cup to Qatar looks downright wrong.
While FIFA will say that it is there prerogative to chose whomever they wish to host their flagship tournament, public opinion, and the opinion of other footballing governing bodies has to be taken into account.
With it looking increasingly likely that Qatar 2022 will take place in the winter, provisionally pencilled in for November/December, the knock-on effect on 50 domestic leagues around the world will be astronomical. UEFA seem to have negotiated a deal with FIFA that has left the Champions League largely unscathed; a November/December schedule would fit neatly in the break between group stages and the last 16 ties.
But the deal appears rougher on the English domestic game, Premier League chief executive Richard Scudamore has said: “I’m very disappointed, that’s the word, on behalf of all the European leagues and particularly the European clubs who provide most of the players for this World Cup.”
Scudamore is unquestionably right to be outraged. This winter World Cup would affect 3 full seasons of the Premier League, as a season either side of 2022 would need to be re-jigged to accommodate the World Cup break. Would the Premier League still attract the same TV revenue if the times were not set in stone? It is a difficult question for Scudamore and the league, and one that will need to be resolved before all are happy with the winter World Cup. FIFA has now confirmed that they will not be paying compensation to any European leagues in spite of the disruption the World Cup will cause. This is only going to cause more animosity between the leagues and FIFA, as this story continues to rumble on.
While FIFA do not exactly have a perfect record when it comes to echoing public sentiment (see Sepp Blatter’s 3 re-elections as President), they surely cannot continue to fly so flagrantly in the face of popular opinion.
In a recent survey conducted by Sky Sports News, admittedly not the most scientific of studies, they concluded that 79% of people believed that Qatar should not host the 2022 World Cup. Of course, strong governance is about doing what is right and not what is popular, but in this instance surely both go hand in hand.
I highly doubt that FIFA will reverse it’s decision to host the World Cup in Qatar, that ship has long sailed I fear, but that doesn’t mean that we should give up on holding FIFA’s decision making policies to account.