Three headlines in the Washington Post sports section got my day off to a bad start (things picked up with a good morning in court). The headlines were: “Nationals’ lineup takes a hit as slugging [Adam] Dunn departs;” “Caps are denied game-tying goal,” and “FIFA awards 2011 World Cup to tiny Qatar.”
The event reflected in the first headline will cause me the most short-term distress. However, the last headline is the most scandalous. It seems unimaginable that the World Cup will be played in a tiny desert outpost which, to my knowledge, is devoid of quality soccer. Qatar has never even qualified for a World Cup, despite playing in an extremely weak region.
Many suspect that members of FIFA’s executive committee were bribed, and I am among them. Like so many international bodies, FIFA has a whiff of corruption about it. I understand that two committee members were recently suspended (not canned) for soliciting bribes in connection with the vote on future World Cup hosts.
Whatever the thinking/motive behind the decision, if I’m still around in 2022, I’ll probably boycott the World Cup (not that many Power Line readers will miss those tedious soccer posts I produce every four years). And if Russia, which was awarded the 2018 World Cup, continues its descent into rogue state status, I may boycott that event too. Alternatively, if the outlook in Russia brightens, I may try to attend, since it looks like my last good chance to see another World Cup in person.
England (where soccer began and which has not hosted a World Cup since 1966) was once considered a strong candidate for the 2018 Cup. But, according to the Washington Post, the committee seemed to sour on its bid after the solicitations of bribery mentioned above were exposed by a London newspaper. England ended up with only two votes out of 22. I think that’s rather telling.
UPDATE: This will no doubt sound like sour grapes, and probably is to some extent, but the World Cup is a vastly overrated sporting event. I voiced some of my disappointment with the most recent one here.
Sir Alex Ferguson, manager of Manchester United, isn’t far wrong when he says there hasn’t been a good World Cup since 1986. For most true soccer fans, the essential game is the one played at the club level, before a working and middle class crowd in venues like Goodison Park, not the one played by make-shift teams before “suits” (and now sultans) in venues where weird horns drown out the players or where outdoor air-conditioning supposedly will drown out the desert heat.
The absurdity and likely corruption of the decision to award the Cup to Qatar bothers me at least as much as the fact the U.S. won’t host it in 2022. I would be far less upset if the Cup had been awarded to, say, Australia.
In this connection, Nate Silver looks at possible legitimate reasons for awarding the Cup to Qatar. He finds them wanting.
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