Take politics out of sports
By : Abdulateef Al-Mulhim
For the first time in the history of the FIFA World Cup, the focus is not on the event about to take place but on the one that is scheduled after eight years. This can be avoided if we separate politics from sport.
The World Cup is the most watched sports event in the world. It is held every four years and countries go into very stiff competition to host this event. Upon winning the nomination to host the event, a country becomes the center of global attention. The country hosting the World Cup transforms into a busy workshop with massive construction of new stadiums, hotels, roads and development of the civic infrastructure.
Ironically, the only country that hosted this event and did not need the massive new infrastructure is a country that was not known for its love for the game. They even call it soccer instead of football. When the United States hosted the World Cup in 1994, many people around the world did not expect stadiums to be even half full. It turned out that the 1994 World Cup was the most successful and most attended and many Americans did not even know there was an event that billions around the world were watching. The most impressive thing about seeing a country like the US hold an event like that was the fact that Americans did not build new hotels or stadiums. They simply did not need to. The US already had all it took to host a sport event no matter how many people traveled to the US to attend the event. In other words, the World Cup was not a burden on America or the Americans. So why would countries go the extra ten miles to host such an event and how far would they go to host this event?
On June 12, the FIFA 2014 World Cup will be held in Brazil. Few months before the event, there were mass demonstrations in Brazil. The demonstrators knew very well that the whole world would be focused on Brazil. But strangely even though the opening ceremony is near for the 2014 World Cup, the main focus is on the 2022 event to be held in Qatar. So, why the 2022 World Cup is different?
Many people were happy and jubilant to see Qatar win the nomination to host the World Cup in 2022. Qatar was nominated three years ago and since then sports writers and analysts such as the author of The Turbulent World of Middle East Soccer blog, James Dorsey, are asking several questions. They are not questioning Qatar’s capability to host such a mega event. They are puzzled over Qatar’s nomination itself and whether the players can perform in the summer heat and humidity of the Gulf region.
Qatar and FIFA had two choices and none of those were ever tried. One was to play during the summer in air-conditioned stadiums including the fields, which would reduce the temperature to around 28 degrees Centigrade or to hold the event during the winter. Both choices are difficult. So, why the 2022 FIFA World Cup is under scrutiny? The answer is simple. The Fédération Internationale de Football Association or the International Federation of Association Football, which is the international governing body consisting of more than 200 national associations is considered more powerful and influential on politicians than the United Nations but it is governed by very loose rules of nominations.
The World Cup tournament was founded to bring young players and spectators from around the world together.
It was an event intended to bring honest competition between the young far away from politics.
But the World Cup is turning to be all about politics. Now, there are serious investigations about how did Qatar win the bid but I am not blaming the Qataris, the whole system of FIFA has to be blamed.
The World Cup has become a show off among the hosting countries. Yes, I was happy to see the World Cup being held for the first time in the Gulf region but what if the nomination is withdrawn and given to another country like England, the FIFA will lose its integrity. So, FIFA must change many of its rules that make it very easy to manipulate the nominating body.