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Russia, Qatar snare World Cups

December 2, 2010 | 11:48 am No comments
By Shaun Schafer

Put away your “USA 2022″ jerseys, the World Cup is going to Qatar.

FIFA announced from Zurich on Thursday the awarding of the 2018 World Cup to the Russian Federation and the 2022 cup to the tiny, Persian Gulf state of Qatar. Both decisions can be considered upsets. England, which hosted in 1966, had been considered the favorite for the ’18 competition. The United States, which hosted the most profitable World Cup ever in 1994, had been the favorite for ’22.

Sunil Gulati’s announcement over the disappointment only begins to describe the problems with this decision.

While I can accept giving the cup to the land of the modern mafia, I don’t have to like it. England, the cradle of the game and the home of the best football league, deserved a second chance to host. Seriously, Uruguay and Mexico have each hosted twice and Brazil is getting a second shot in 2014. Perhaps it is a lingering upset over the West German goal that wasn’t in the ’66 final, but this seems ridiculous.

With the tendency to spread the game, and the likelihood that an African nation will get a shot before another European country, England might be looking at a 2030 bid. Sixty-four years between games is a pretty impressive stretch and would match Brazil’s experience.

For the ’22 games, I am still trying to make sense of awarding it to one of the hottest spots on the planet over the USA. How much does FIFA hate Uncle Sam? Evidently, it’s far greater than I guessed. To turn your backs on the nation that hosted the most successful games ever, and possessed the stadiums, hotel rooms and fans to trump that success says everything.

In its own reports, FIFA expressed concerns over Qatari facilities and, more importantly, the ability to hold matches in 120-degree heat. The biggest concerns for the USA bid was a lack of government underwriting and the reality that soccer is not the most important game on the American sports landscape.

Those same factors were true in ’94, and that only led to the most successful cup. Ever.

Perhaps attentions should turn to putting forth a 2026 bid, and again offering Invesco Field in Denver as one of the sites. At this moment, I’m too bitter to care.

Ultimately, the 2022 vote has to be seen as FIFA again backing a state with a strong central government able to dictate its support over a noisy, messy democracy.

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