FIFA – The Kid That Steals Your Lunch Money

Photo Credit to Jean Jullien/NY Times

Why, FIFA, why? Why must you do this to us soccer fans? A winter World Cup in Qatar? I mean come on, we all think you’re corrupt, but do you have to make it so blatant? This is an atrocious idea, FIFA. There are literally too many reasons to count as to why this should never happen. But alas, the show will go on, and it will go on without disregard to anyone else except a few wealthy board members.

With the World Cup in Brazil just last summer, I’m sure many of the storylines surrounding it are still fresh in people’s minds. From underpaid and enslaved workers, to riots in the street, many Brazilians did not seem to happy to be hosting the world’s most-watched sporting event. Everyday there was some new image of a protestor holding a sign that read something like “We need money for hospitals and education” or “We don’t need the World Cup”. Subway workers went on strike, and stadiums were barely finished in time for games. The games played on the pitch were indeed beautiful in a wonderfully entertaining World Cup, but the events leading up it were quite the opposite. It was a nightmare for FIFA and Brazil. So why am I bringing up the 2014 World Cup in an article about the 2022 World Cup? Well, all signs are pointing to that same ugly crash course in Qatar 2022.

Photo Credit to Nadine Rupp/Getty

 

We may still be seven years away from an international soccer match being played in Qatar, yet there are already numerous problems popping up in the news. The costs to host a World Cup in Qatar are already being estimated, and the numbers are quite shocking. Some say $190 billion. Others say $220 billion. So who pays that hefty number? Well, the taxpayers of course! Qatar has virtually no sports venues in place, so this number should not be surprising as they are literally building these gargantuan stadiums and facilities from the ground. With such a heavy building plan, Qatar has had to outsource and hire many migrant “workers” from neighboring nations. According to recent reports, the conditions they are working in resemble “slave labor” from 1820’s America. The workers are working upwards of 100 hours per week in 120-degree weather, and some reportedly are not being compensated for their work and are being held captive in the country. In addition, a report from the Guardian shows that a worker is dying every two days. Keep in mind this is only 2015. We are still more than SEVEN years away from kickoff. This issue is only going to snowball. Human rights groups could get involved, and workers could realistically fight back and strike in a similar manner to the subway workers in Brazil. This controversy is far from over.

Although the summer temperatures in Qatar do not seem to be too hot for the workers, FIFA ultimately ruled that they would indeed be too hot for the footballers. So for the first time in history, we will have a World Cup during the winter.

December is a wonderful month for people worldwide. For many it is the wonderful season of Christmastime. For others it is the joyous celebration of Hanukkah. Europeans take solace in a new season of club football, and we Americans cheer on our local NFL teams’ push to the playoffs. Yet despite these numerous conflicts, FIFA decided to push on with the decision anyways.

Now while many of these conflicts simply have to do with the viewership, which will not teeter to much, the bigger issue at hand is the European club schedules. The Premier League, Bundesliga, and La Liga, leagues where much of the talent for the World Cup comes from, all are in the heart of their season during December. So what does this mean for FIFA? Well, every club team in these respective leagues is going to be losing money due to rescheduling and future conflicts. In addition, the age-old traditions of the FA Cup and Champions League tournaments are going to be disrupted, and possibly postponed. This also does not make much sense for FIFA because they may have to pay back damages the respective clubs for TV deals in addition to the millions they are already paying for clubs to release their players ($70 million for Brazil). When asked about the disruption to the club season, Karl-Heinz Rummenigge, the head of the European Club Association, which represents two hundred and fourteen teams, warned, “The European clubs and leagues cannot be expected to bear the costs for such rescheduling. We expect the clubs to be compensated for the damage that a final decision would cause.” Rummenigge believes the clubs need to be paid for their losses but it remains to be seen if FIFA will compensate club owners. Just last month FIFA secretary general Jerome Valcke said that “There will be no compensation. There are seven years to reorganize.” Once again I have a strong feeling that this fight is far from over.

So why is FIFA pushing so hard to keep this Qatar World Cup dream alive? Why are they INSISTING that this is set in stone (when really it is not)? And did they seriously not anticipate the temperature problem way back in 2010? To me, the costs far outweigh the benefits. I mean I am all for making it truly a “World Cup” by having an Arabic nation host the event, but too many knees are bending at the mighty chair of President Sepp Blatter.

Photo Credit to The Sunday Times

 

We must remember that we are still SEVEN years out from the first kickoff. The alleged slavery, the hot temperatures, the disruption of European club traditions that date back to the late 1800’s; the problems just keep piling up, and I have a feeling we are only scratching the surface here. With so much controversy I am really having a hard time understanding putting the World Cup in Qatar. The devil’s advocate inside of me has to seriously consider the bribery claims that have been surfacing since the bid was granted back in 2010. Apparently (please note the word apparently because nothing has officially been proven), representatives from Australia, Ivory Coast, and Cameroon were offered kickbacks in exchange for their votes going to Qatar according to two Sunday Times reporters. Additionally, Qatari born Mohamed bin Hamman, who was on the 24-man executive committee when Qatar got the bid was banned for life from FIFA just one year later after he allegedly paid people for a vote that make him President of FIFA. It is quite hard to believe that this was Hamman’s first walk in the park either. And if that was not fishy enough, another executive, Trinidad and Tobago’s Jack Warner, was also suspended in 2011 for shady dealings. Upon his suspension he claimed that FIFA secretary general Jerome Valcke told him that “Qatar had bought the 2022 World Cup” according to The Telegraph over in UK. Yikes.

With so much “he said she said” filling up television news, FIFA’s hand was forced – they would have conduct an investigation. The “Garcia Report” as it is come to be known was an official 42-page summary report of the findings by former United States attorney Michael Garcia. However the main problem with the was that it was JUST a summary. The entire report was actually 350-pages long, and according to Garcia, the summary was “materially incomplete” and had “erroneous representations of the facts and conclusions”. Garcia would go on to resign just a few months later. So was FIFA hiding something from the public? Well the man who actually did the investigation sure thinks so.

Photo Credit to Pambazuka News

 

Was there some bribery and under the table deals to get Qatar its’ first World Cup bid? Maybe. It would sure help explain why FIFA is bending over backwards to make this Qatar dream a reality. According to BBC, Blatter states that it would take an “earthquake” to stop the 2022 World Cup from being in Qatar. But why is it such a big deal to the committee? Why do they want it in Qatar so bad? Honestly that question may forever go unanswered and that is because FIFA is a bully. With no accountability in place, this organization can simply do and say whatever they want without any repercussions. After his reelection, Sepp Blatter claimed that “FIFA is more influential than any country in the world and every religion”. And that just about sums up Blatter and FIFA. Sure a few thousand migrant workers will get killed and hey they might even have a couple of pissed off club owners on their hands, but at the end of the day FIFA will get their way. They may step on everyone in the process, but they will get their way. So fellow soccer fans, gear up, because it looks like we are going to have a winter World Cup in Qatar. Like it or not, your opinion doesn’t matter to a bully.

Photo Credit to Ampp3d

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