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Commentary: 2022 World Cup in Qatar an obvious mistake by FIFA

The FIFA Executive Committee convened in Zurich Dec. 2, 2010 to decide which country would get to host the 2022 World Cup.

After eliminating bids from Australia, South Korea and Japan, it was down to the U.S. and Qatar in the decision for who would play host.

In the end, Qatar won.

Almost immediately after the announcement, an uproar began in the international soccer community. The World Cup takes place during June and July every four years. During those months in Doha, Qatar, the average high temperature is more than 107 degrees Fahrenheit. If player safety is a concern, that temperature is too high.

FIFA has since aimed to fix the problem of high temperatures by attempting to move the World Cup to the winter months, as air conditioning the stadiums enough to make play safer would cost unrealistic amounts of money.

Instead of absolving the issue, this created as much, if not more, controversy.

The English Premier League, the Spanish La Liga, the Italian Serie A, the German Bundesliga and other leagues across Europe are in the heart of their seasons in the middle of winter and would struggle to change their long-standing schedules to accommodate such a lengthy event as the World Cup.

The Premier League in particular has been vocal about having to change its yearly schedule for the World Cup. Chief Executive Richard Scudamore said FIFA has the power to select the venue, but that the time is a very different decision, as it would interfere too much with previously planned schedules.

“Those are two very different things,” Scudamore said. “The sporting calendar across the world is affected.”

On top of all that, The Guardian reported Sept. 25 that  at least 44 Nepalese laborers have died in Qatar of heart attacks, heart failure or workplace accidents, which brings up a human rights issue for laborers in Qatar.

Despite the backlash, FIFA remains adamant in its stance that the World Cup will take place in Qatar in 2022.

The association’s president, Sepp Blatter, said Oct. 4 the venue would not change.

“The 2022 World Cup will be played in Qatar — that’s it,” Blatter said. “We don’t know if it’s winter or summer. I do not know what will be the outcome.”

It’s pretty clear to me, though, what needs to happen. FIFA needs to admit its mistake and award the bid to the U.S. — or Japan, or South Korea or Australia. Really, they just need to pull it out of Qatar.

I respect what FIFA was trying to do in bringing international soccer to the Middle East, which has not had much success in the tournament historically, but putting it there was a mistake from the start.

The leagues already are forced to work around the World Cup qualifying schedule in the years leading up to the event, taking time off to allow the players to return to their home countries to play in matches.

Not only would two months worth of games be taken away from them, but you have to add in the time that it would take for players to train with their countrymen beforehand, and likely give them time off afterward.

That’s four months off  the leagues would essentially be forced to give for the players, something that would in turn be a financial and logistical nightmare.

If FIFA is smart, it will move the World Cup.

I’m a homer, so I may be a little biased by the fact that I would love to watch the final in the Rose Bowl stadium in Los Angeles, but the controversy kicked up by the Qatar decision is not worth the effort.

No one, it seems, outside of FIFA and Qatar, is pleased with the situation and willing to make a change.

It seems as if representatives from FIFA are just stubbornly sticking to their guns because they are not willing to come out and say they were wrong. Personally, I don’t think they will.

Blatter and the rest of FIFA have made it clear that they want the World Cup in Qatar, so the likelihood of making a change is very small.

Allowing the U.S. to host in 2022, the second time the country would host after 1994, would fix the issue of high temperatures as the average temperature in Los Angeles is 83 degrees Fahrenheit in June and 84 in July, and allow the competition to be played in the traditional summer months.

Do the right thing FIFA, give the World Cup to the good ol’ U.S. of A.

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