Ok, it’s time to revive the dead horse and ride it some more. Trust me, I don’t want to but I have to.
Since the December 2 vote to award Qatar the 2022 World Cup, I have made peace with the decision. While I still believe the country was not the best bid put forward (the U.S. and Australia were better venues in my opinion), I understand the logic and benefits and made my peace with it. I wish them good luck and anticipate an absolutely excellent World Cup.
But it’s FIFA that keeps making my blood boil over this issue.
Today it’s Michael Platini’s interview reported in The Telegraph, where he shares his ideas and hopes for Qatar’s World Cup, among other topics. His thought is that the 2022 World Cup should be a Gulf World Cup, or in his words: “I hope it will be a World Cup of the Gulf. It could be the World Cup of Qatar but played in the Gulf.” This is interesting because the idea has been floated in the media by different soccer personalities but was always rebuked, usually by someone from FIFA saying Qatar has never applied for that change. But now the idea of a World Cup hosted by Qatar but played in other countries seems to be gaining steam.
This is on top of the already brewing movement to move the 2022 World Cup to the winter months. Last week, Sepp Blatter became the most recent person to suggest the event be played in January, and league schedules be adjusted accordingly. This of course has been argued on this site and others, so I don’t want to rehash those arguments. But it seems to me the 2022 World Cup has a general location, but not a set date nor set locations for the matches to take place.
Not to worry, Platini told the press: “When I organised (sic) the World Cup in France we did (things) differently from what we proposed in the bid.” He conveniently forgot to mention France’s huge soccer structure already in place, as well as summer temperatures below 120 degrees Fahrenheit. What these debates tell me is FIFA backed themselves into a corner by picking a location but not having a firm idea of any specific details. Ask any bride-to-be or meeting planner, and they will tell you this is a recipe for disaster.
So should Qatar have its World Cup pulled? Not necessarily; a winter World Cup hosted by the Gulf States but based in Qatar can still be a massive success. But there are so many unknowns and unresolved scenarios that even an event 11 years away is looking like a dubious proposition. So FIFA should take an unprecedented step (again) and do the following: announce after its elections that in December 2014, FIFA will review a new 2022 World Cup bid from Qatar. Qatar’s bid will address the timing and location issues, as well as progress on stadiums and other logistics. After the presentation, the executive committee will have a vote to confirm the bid, and require a supermajority to strip Qatar if it feels their bid is not prepared for the event in eight years. If that occurs, FIFA can have a process to vote on new bids (possibly just have the other finalists resubmit) but it would need its committee to firmly and overwhelmingly reject (say, a 2/3rds vote) the current site.
The positives of this re-vote? This gives FIFA and Qatar four years to decide the basics of the 2022 World Cup and begin to implement its plan. If they cannot do this by 2014, FIFA needs to act in the game’s best interest and consider other venues. This may or may not be the U.S., but that’s not why this is an important issue. This is an important issue because the soccer community needs to know that the 2022 World Cup will take place and be successful, not a drama filled event like the Olympics were in Greece. That way, we can finally figure out who won the 2022 bidding: Qatar, or some ambiguous idea.