Thursday, December 2, 2010

Goodbye World Cup Finals 2010: Too Bad We Didn't Get to Host You

NEW YORK, NY - DECEMBER 02: Student Reynaldo Calderin of the Business of Sports School reacts following the announcement that the United States lost out on its bid to host the 2022 World Cup today to Qatar on December 2, 2010 in New York City. Russia was chosen as the host nation for the 2018 World Cup.  (Photo by Spencer Platt/Getty Images)

Today in Switzerland FIFA announced that Russia would be hosting the 2018 World Cup finals and Qatar would be hosting the 2022 World Cup finals. And with that announcement the dreams and hopes of millions of soccer fans in England and the United States were dashed. The hope of seeing World Cup finals soccer played in a stadium nearby was completely dashed for some and all but dashed for others.

That England had lost out to Russia is not that surprising. Russia's increasing sphere of influence has been increasing lately, and if England is not careful, the RPL could conceivably be a big adversary of the EPL by 2018. A certain segment of the modern Russian society has the kind of money to spend on football and footballers that the upper economic classes in England seem to lack. The increase in foreign investors in EPL highlights the monetary footballing imbalance between England and Russia.

While I don't believe FIFA when they talk about "legacy," the reality is that Russia is a prime market for "growing the game" and holding the finals there would smack of a certain post-Cold War symbolism. In reality though, I think selecting Russia was an easy way for FIFA to give England a figurative slap in the face. English football fans might not like to hear this, but FIFA thinks England has an overgrown sense of entitlement when it comes to the World's game - nobody is allowed to have a bigger sense of entitlement than FIFA, okay.

As for the 2022 World Cup finals, solely on paper, the United States looked like the front runner - a solid, though low profile, professional league; giant stadiums - several with retractable roofs; good transportation infrastructure, good lodging facilities, and sponsorship money galore. Maybe it was politics, maybe it was money, maybe it was this legacy thing, but FIFA went with Qatar over the United States. Qatar has wicked hot summers and is smaller than the state of Connecticut. Not sure what Qatar will do with all the necessary stadiums come mid-July 2022 - they say they'll dismantle them and ship them to smaller, poorer countries, but I got a bridge in Brooklyn I will do that with too.

The biggest loser when it comes to the 2022 World Cup finals is the fan. While Qatar might be small and probably somewhat easy to get around (so long as you don't break down in the desert) it's social environment is alien to a tournament that has witnessed Australians drinking a German restaurant dry. Not to mention that any homosexual soccer fans are essentially unwelcome since homosexuality is illegal in Qatar.

The only bright side - Football folks in England and the US won't feel dirty for spending the next few years in the same grimy bed with FIFA.

UPDATE: Video of Sepp Blatter & Jack Warner celebrating after announcement:

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