Qatar will host the 2022 Football World Cup

Spiro Zavos Columnist

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    Australia's Andres Quintana charges for the ball during their World Cup qualifier clash against Qatar on Saturday, June 14 at Al Sadd Stadium Doha. AP Photo/STR

    Australia's Andres Quintana charges for the ball during their World Cup qualifier clash against Qatar on Saturday, June 14 at Al Sadd Stadium Doha. AP Photo/STR

    Football politics is a hard ball game, where ambition, treachery, corruption, political and economic influence, perfumed or manured by vast dollops of money, dictate the outcome of every major decision. It is this heady milieu that makes it almost inevitable that Qatar, a fabulously rich country, will win the hosting rights to the 2022 Football World Cup.

    An informed source has told me that the FIFA president, Joseph S. Blatter, Sepp Blatter to the punters, wants another term as presiding official of world football. But the chairman of the Qatar’s 2022 Bid Commitee, His Excellency Sheik Mohammed bin Hamad bin Khalifa Al Thani, has the numbers to prevent this.

    A deal will be done to square this circle.

    Blatter will get his final term as present. And Qatar will win the hosting rights to the 2022 Football World Cup.

    A deal cut this way effectively kills off the bids from the USA (which could not win its latest Olympic hosting bid); Japan (which has already hosted a Football World Cup); and Australia (which is out its league in a world of big finance football politics played for the highest of stakes).

    The heart of the Qatar bid, aside from the politicking of getting Blatter another term as FIFA president, involves a geo-political consideration that the Middle East region is a powerhouse and a powder keg.

    FIFA, like the IOC, likes to think of itself as an organisation that uses sport, in this case football, as a force for peace in the world.

    The Qatar bid has 750 pages.

    It has 2,000 pages of supplementary documents and covers in great detail all the relevant issues ranging from accommodation, transport, security, environment and stadium infrastructure. This massive documentation is backed up with all the required government guarantees and agreements.

    The bid is an example of money not talking but actually shouting out its power and authority.

    It is not entirely beyond the bounds of belief that if a successful Football World Cup is held in Qatar, that FIFA could be in line for a Nobel Prize for Peace. The appeal of this to the marketing programs and self-esteem of FIFA, which boasts it has more member nations than the United Nations, cannot be over-estimated.

    Qatar’s 22-chapter bid document makes the case that if it wins the hosting rights, 2022 will be the first World Cup held in the Middle East.

    “In Qatar, history and the future will come together in an historic choice of Host Nation, in a global age with medias and technology bringing continents closer together – Qatar is truly in the Middle, neither East not West. Qatar proposes a World Cup that will perfectly reflect the FIFA slogan: ‘For the Game: for the World.'”

    Qatar has the third largest gas reserves in the world:14 per cent of all the known resereves. It has the highest or second highest (after Liechenstein, depending on the source) per capita income in the world, and the fastest growing income.

    It has the tiny population, however, of 1 million, swollen to about 2 million with foreign workers and business people.

    On the face of it, it is improbable that such a small country in terms of population, with a climate that makes it unbearable to be outside for most of the year, could hope to host a football tournament that involves 32 teams and 12 stadiums.

    But the bid makes clear that all the stadiums will have “ground-breaking” cooling systems, fan zones and training grounds: “Fans, players and officials will be able to enjoy cool and comfortable open-air conditions, not exceeding 27 degrees celsius climate.”

    The state of the art cooling modules and some of the modular stadiums will be given to developing countries after the 2022 tournament. The carbon-neutral technology developed for the tournament will create enough solar power for energy to be put into the national grid when the stadiums are not in use.

    The Middle East, African and Asian nations (the Third World bloc) are certain to support Qatar’s bid.

    Europe, also, because of the convenience and time-zone considerations of a tournament based in Qatar, together with the deals that the major nations can tie-up with Qatar and its supporters on the Arabian, will come on board.

    Blatter will bring in the South American countries.

    It’s hard to see in all of this just where Australia hopes to get votes for its bid.

    Its football team is higher ranked than Qatar’s. But so is New Zealand’s. Australia may be new territory for FIFA to bless with a World Cup tournament.

    But so is the Middle East.

    The Qatar football team is out of its league on the field. But off the field, Qatar is very much a big player in world and football politics. This weight will be too much for FIFA to resist when it comes to naming the host of the 2022 Football World Cup.

    “And the winner is … Qatar!”

    Spiro Zavos
    Spiro Zavos

    Spiro Zavos, a founding writer on The Roar, was long time editorial writer on the Sydney Morning Herald, where he started a rugby column that has run for nearly 30 years. Spiro has written 12 books: fiction, biography, politics and histories of Australian, New Zealand, British and South African rugby. He is regarded as one of the foremost writers on rugby throughout the world.

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    The Crowd Says (93)

    • June 29th 2010 @ 7:48am
      PeteHarrison said | June 29th 2010 @ 7:48am | ! Report

      This would not surpirse me. The political element of it aside, if Qatar can deliver these facilities, and they probably can, then FIFA would look at the middle east as a region where football needs to be grown more than Australia. Once the political element comes in it becomes difficult to counter. Australia is banking a lot on Australia being safe (“a safe pair of hands”), but FIFA knows that any country is going to pull out all the stops to make the experience safe, so I don’t know how sensible this strategy is.

      One would assume though that Qatar will be left with some very unused stadia at the end of it, unless it plans to turn itself in to some sort of football exhibition centre, a-la Abu-Dhabi and Dubai with other sports.

      I suppose now we’ll find out how smart our bid is and whether these sort of pitfalls have been taken in to account.

      As an aside, a very parochial one, the time difference between Qatar and Australia won’t be much fun for viewing…but I have 12 years to plan…

      • November 24th 2010 @ 6:39am
        sydboz said | November 24th 2010 @ 6:39am | ! Report

        No way does Qatar deserves it, the FIFA technical report merely rubber stamped this. FIFA will be investigated for a century if it’s given to Qatar because it’s total rubbish. Australia has the best technical report, the best bid, the best legacy, excellent tourism venues, has achieved the football development, has the Asian television audience and has the weather to protect the health of all the players. Australia will be a fantastic world cup and I can’t wait. GO AUSTRALIA 2022 WORLD CUP HOSTS!!

    • June 29th 2010 @ 8:22am
      Midfielder said | June 29th 2010 @ 8:22am | ! Report

      Big call mate … I would be very surprised if it did…

    • June 29th 2010 @ 8:24am
      sheek said | June 29th 2010 @ 8:24am | ! Report

      Demetriou can sleep easy……….

    • June 29th 2010 @ 8:42am
      Art Sapphire said | June 29th 2010 @ 8:42am | ! Report

      We should ask the Qataris for one of those modular stadiums. Melbourne will need another rectangle stadium by 2022 🙂

    • June 29th 2010 @ 8:47am
      zizou said | June 29th 2010 @ 8:47am | ! Report

      If this does happen, this will be the worst World Cup from a fans point of view ever! No ability to drink outside games and I can’t seem them publicly showing the games, especially if its 40+ degrees all the time. Probably would also see sponsors disappear in droves as well and this is where FIFA should see sense.

      Also you said Blatter will bring the South Americans in. I can’t see that happening, they would be more in favour of a US tournament (similar timezone) plus there is still that old blood regarding Havelange.

      Plus Qatar would be a bigger disaster than South Africa as a host nation.

      As Midfielder said, I would be very surprised if it did happen.

      • June 29th 2010 @ 9:46am
        True Tah said | June 29th 2010 @ 9:46am | ! Report

        Why would it be the worst world cup?

        Because futbol fans can’t get on the juice every night? I thought you guys are supposed to be cultured, and Im sure you can find alternative means of entertainment.

        I detect a strong anti-Middle Eastern sentiment whenever Qatar hosting a world cup comes up, it would be a very safe destination, much much safer than South Africa. It would be a massive boost to the Middle East, think of it as not just a Qatar world cup.

        Qatar can deliver the stadiums without any problems, although this is in part due to the fact Qatar is an absoute monarchy.

        • June 29th 2010 @ 12:42pm
          zizou said | June 29th 2010 @ 12:42pm | ! Report

          “I thought you guys are supposed to be cultured, and Im sure you can find alternative means of entertainment.”

          That’s my point. Is there any alternative means of entertainment?

          • June 29th 2010 @ 6:11pm
            Ben of Phnom Penh said | June 29th 2010 @ 6:11pm | ! Report

            There are, zizou, but not for 450,000 people

            • July 2nd 2010 @ 3:42am
              MMM said | July 2nd 2010 @ 3:42am | ! Report

              Drinking alcohol won’t be illegal anymore. It’s official. When the Chairman of the qatar bid, sheikh Mohammed, was asked the question about alcohol, his answer was “The world cup has a certain culture and we will respect that culture.”

        • June 29th 2010 @ 5:30pm
          Pajovic said | June 29th 2010 @ 5:30pm | ! Report

          Missing the point True Tah!! If I shell out $15,000 on a world cup trip, I want to be able to hit the sauce when and where I want. Such ‘high and mighty’ attitudes wreak of a fly by night soccer fan that doesnt know Aston Villa from and Aston Martin.

          A world cup in Qatar would be a ripp off, souless and inconvenient to you average football fan. We saw what location does to crowd sizes in SA.

          Hopefully a traditional nation in Europe or South America gets it, or else the USA. Somewhere where therre will be a great tournament. I rememebr USA 94, it was such a blast. Germany 4 years ago was also a great tournament. You cant turn your back on the main foootballing hintermand too often. That is why FIFA ditched their benighted ‘rotating continent’ policy!

      • Roar Guru

        June 29th 2010 @ 10:00am
        Rusty said | June 29th 2010 @ 10:00am | ! Report

        “Plus Qatar would be a bigger disaster than South Africa as a host nation” – yeah you are right they need to perform as well as Italy, France and Australia….oops

        • June 29th 2010 @ 12:04pm
          zizou said | June 29th 2010 @ 12:04pm | ! Report

          Italy, France and Australia weren’t the host nations at this World Cup . . . oops

          • June 30th 2010 @ 1:13am
            Steve said | June 30th 2010 @ 1:13am | ! Report

            How exactly has South Africa been a disaster as a host nation?

            • June 30th 2010 @ 6:27am
              darwin stubby said | June 30th 2010 @ 6:27am | ! Report

              very good question Steve – SA is doing a fantastic job

    • Roar Guru

      June 29th 2010 @ 9:04am
      AndyRoo said | June 29th 2010 @ 9:04am | ! Report

      I would be shocked if it happens. I think they have been able to progress so far because a large chunk of the world don’t really care about the bidding process. If your countries not bidding you probably don’t read about it until it’s announced who won. So I see a big difference between the FIFA cronies allowing Qatar to spend their money and wine and dine FIFA executives and then actually awarding them the tournament and actually having the blow torch of media attention applied to what’s going on.

      If Blatter keeps technology burried and then oversees Qatar getting the World Cup i’m pretty sure that would be the end of him. Their would be the critical mass needed for a change and the decision to give it to Qatar would likely be over turned. that could be the end for MBH too which would be “interesting” times for Australia as our AFC spot would become shaky.

      Edit: Franz Beckenbauer has always struck me a decent football guy, I wonder how he stomaches working with guys like Blatter and Warner all the time.

      Kind of hope they do award it to Qatar just to see what happens 😛

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