We already know the name of the World Cup 2022 winner: Qatar

The New York Times’ Tariq Panja and Rory Smith wrote a truly excellent recap of most of the things that are bad, wrong, or just plain terrible regarding the FIFA World Cup 2022 in Qatar. I’ve highlighted several parts while reading it, but this one in particular got my attention, regarding the choice of the host for the event:

Even before Blatter opened the envelope to confirm that the Middle East would host the World Cup for the first time, Al Jazeera, the news network based in Doha, had broadcast news of Qatar’s victory.

The fallout, though, was just beginning. […] More accusations of corruption and bribery followed. […] Within a few years, in fact, almost every one of the 22 members of the committee who had participated in the vote had been accused of or charged with corruption. Dozens of other executives had been arrested.

Sign me up already for the inevitable movie about this whole affair: this reads a lot like the kind of drama Oliver Stone loves to direct.

I didn’t need to read this article from the New York Times to hate this event though, which will probably be remembered as the world cup of shame. Not only because of all the things mentioned in the article, and there are a lot of problems indeed, but also the fact that it happens in the middle of the season for the biggest leagues in Europe, which kind of ruins the whole year (well, except maybe this time players will actually be fit and not tired from having played the whole season before the competition).

I’ve never been a big fan of national football teams, so the World Cup is not as big of a deal for me as it seems to be for the world of football: I don’t think I would have watched or cared about this World Cup, regardless of the choice of host, so it is quite an easy pass for me, I have to say.

I will still keep an eye on the results, and on whether or not football icons like Messi or Ronaldo will finally use their status to protest or at least bring the world’s attention to one of the many causes that deserves to be highlighted at this event. What can happen to them really? They are at the end of their career anyway and Qatar won’t dare to arrest them. Think about your legacy guys.

This article left a bad taste in my mouth though. I may not watch football like I used to ten years ago — and yeah the demise of my team didn’t help — but it’s still my favourite sport to watch, so this World Cup really is a symbol of all the things football lost along the way. I miss the old football sometimes, when underdogs could regularly challenge the biggest teams, but every time I try to pay more attention to it, I’m reminded of how much it has changed during the last fifteen years or so; basically since the club of PSG has been bought by Qatar, which started this cycle of football I can’t really enjoy anymore.1

The Times’ article concludes:

As the tournament that the host country was willing to pay almost any price to obtain gets underway, though, and as the eyes of the world turn to a tiny corner of the Gulf, it is hard not to feel it is the other way around: Soccer may or may not change Qatar, but Qatar has changed soccer forever.

Couldn’t agree more.2 Qatar will be the biggest winner at this World Cup, regardless of which team actually wins the final, but I doubt it will be nicknamed the beautiful game much longer.

  1. Terrible, terrible kerning on these three PSG letters on the New York Times’ website by the way.↩︎

  2. Well, except for the use of the word ’soccer’ instead of ’football’ obviously: I will never be able to adopt it, sorry.↩︎