I’ve had about eleven hours to think about the results of the 2022 World Cup announcement, read my peers, and come to grips with the failure of the USSF to land the World Cup. And I think I have a handle on my thoughts and emotions about today. I watched the announcement via the EPL Talk live blog and Twitter, so I was spared the gut-punch of seeing the card with Qatar on it. However, the announcement still hurts as I type this.
I think Qatar is a deserving host for the World Cup. I like the idea of the World Cup bringing peace to a troubled region is a great idea. Civilization began in Mesopotamia, and it’s only fair that after eighty years the region have a chance to host. Their government and citizens were 100% behind the bid. Say what you will about the air-conditioned stadiums that are portable, but if anyone can build an impossible building, Qatar can. They have the money to do it. Seeing pictures of their celebration and the speech thanking FIFA, even the hardest hearted person has to feel a little happy for the delegation.
As for the United States, we acted as though we had a right to this tournament, when in reality what right do we have to the World Cup? The lead story on Sportscenter this morning was LeBron returning to Cleveland, not the World Cup announcement. Even after the United State’s dramatic matches in the World Cup, MLS television viewership fell off in this country. When we accuse other countries of not being able to truly honor soccer during the World Cup, we should hold our tongue until the ratings and attendance for MLS approach those of foreign leagues. We (that is, Americans) should never have assumed the 2022 World Cup was ours.
And yet, the way it all went down is what made this whole thing rotten.
If you believe there were no politics in play on this FIFA Executive Committee, I have waterfront property in Arizona I’d like to sell you. England, the birthplace of the sport and home of the sport’s most well-known player (who presented the bid!), received fewer votes than a joint bid between the Netherlands and Belgium. Coincidentally, the British press aired their high-profile investigation of FIFA this week. But that was 2018, not 2022, so maybe the committee put aside their politics and made the selection based completely on the merit of the bids.