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Home » Sport » Football

Why FIFA was right - LOL

The much maligned decision to grant the 2022 World Cup to Qatar may turn out to be a FIFA masterstroke, as Michael Burgess explains.

Most of the football world see it as a Qatar-strophe. Giving the 2022 World Cup to the tiny Middle East nation beggars belief, especially given the strong bids from Australia and the USA. But there are several compelling reasons why the FIFA executive committee may have got it right.

Firstly, one should remember the immense contribution of the Middle East to world football.

Who can forget the Kuwait team in 1982, walking off the pitch in protest when a French goal had been scored just after a phantom whistle in the crowd? They were eventually persuaded to return, but their antics compelled the referee to eventually disallow the French goal, which had been awarded.

Also memorable was the Saudi Arabian team in 2002. Germany had come into the tournament lacking confidence and belief but recovered both in 90 minutes of mayhem, beating the Saudis 8-0. With just a touch of Deutsche humour coach Rudi Voeller reflected that "We have to keep our feet on the ground because we know our opponent wasn't that strong.''

The United Arab Emirates team of 1990 also provided plenty of entertainment, conceding eleven goals in their three group matches and scoring just once.

The genius of the FIFA decision will also virtually stamp out hooliganism. Surely the stadiums will be ventilated, but as FIFA vice president Chuck Blazer said himself, "you can't air condition a whole country".

With temperatures expected to reach 50 degrees Celsius, it will simply be too hot for the random pre and post match scuffles that tend to break out between the English and French supporters, or the English and German, or the English and.... just about anyone. Plus the sight of the pasty European fans struggling in the heat and getting redder and more sunburnt as the tournament progresses will make for compelling television viewing. It will be akin to an episode of 'Survivor.'

Having the Cup in Qatar should also ensure that all players are fully focussed on their football. Unlike say the United States (1994), France (1998), Japan (2002) and Germany (2006) there will be limited distractions available and the highly paid professionals will either be training or wiling away time in their seven star hotels.

The transport issues that have complicated several of the recent FIFA showpieces will also be a thing of the past in Qatar 2022. With nine stadiums in an area the size of Auckland, it will be plain sailing for teams, supporters and the media to follow the teams around.

By agreeing to play football in the desert, and defying all the logic of modern science, FIFA has given hope to countries where there previously was none. Brazil to host the Winter Olympics? Sure why not? Switzerland to stage the world surfing championships? Okay, lets do it! Hong Kong to host the world cross country championships? Go for it! The world mountain biking champs in the Netherlands? yes sir!

Plus, the organisation, planning and logistics of the tournament should go off without a hitch. None of those messy elements like "democracy'' and "freedom of speech'' are there to get in the way and even those unwieldy things called "human rights'' are limited in scope and range.

There are also hundred of thousands of 'non-citizens', immigrant workers from South Asia and the non-oil rich Arab states, available to build the infrastructure (and stadium-sized air conditioning units) that will be required.

The regulations around employment of foreigners in Qatar, where the majority cannot enter or exit the country without the permission of their `sponsor', has been compared to modern slavery - but hey - they will all enjoy watching the football, right?


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