WORLD CUP WOES 2022
The story is long, I’ll make it much briefer:
The claim is they paid off officials of FIFA.
And yet I am sure that they made their decision
Strictly on Qatar’s great football tradition.
Satirists feasted on football’s 2014 World Cup. But even earlier they had taken aim at an extraordinary decision by FIFA, the Fédération Internationale de Football Association: in 2010 FIFA announced that the 2022 World Cup would be held in Qatar.
The FIFA president, Sepp Blatter, proudly explained: “We have sent the World Cup into new territories.” Indeed, it would be the first time in the Middle East. Also the first time in a country whose total indigenous population was 300,000 (plus 1.7 million non-citizens), with only a few local football clubs, and a plan to scour Africa for likely teenagers who would train in Belgium, play for various professional clubs, then move to Qatar to qualify to play for Qatar in 2022. Other requirements, apart from building several new stadia, might mean moving the schedule into the winter, the most common national club season, to avoid the impossible heat of the Qatar summer.
The satire poured forth. Allegedly abominable working conditions were the subject of a several cartoons. One showed a sheikh carrying huge bags of cash on his camel watching over laborers chained to massive footballs as they poured with sweat under a sign promising a 50,000 seat air-conditioned stadium.,
Cartoonists were especially inspired by the plan to send the competition “into new territories”. The online Satire Times proposed that Qatar 2022 should be followed by Antartica 2026, with a prospective audience in Antarctic’s temporary research fellows. The Bleacher Report cited suggestions that FIFA could have chosen Mars, “whose lunar landscape, extreme weather conditions and non-existent population base closely mirror” Qatar. Other suggestions included Waikiki for the Olympics Winter Games; Dhaka, Bangladesh, for the U.S. Super Bowl (because it holds the manufacturing rights to most of the NFL licensed apparel); and in the U.S. a new NASCAR Interstate 95 race at rush hour.
What, then, possessed FIFA to choose Qatar over competing bidders? The Independent Australia mockingly quoted FIFA President Latter as dismissing Japan and South Korea as “quite likely to be blown up by North Korea before 2022”; Austria as lacking experience as a host of major events; and the U.S. as “too weak financially to be left in charge of a car-boot sale”.
Clearly, if Qatar had little else to commend it, the money was there. Which, of course, raised the possibility that the fix was in, a suspicion led credibility by a London Sunday Times investigation suggesting that FIFA officials had been bribed. Cartoonists had little doubt that this was so. One had a “World Cup bid soccer ball” labeled with a big dollar sign being kicked into the arms of a FIFA goalie. Others showed:
n a chart of corruption around the world, with Qata listed off the chart.
n FIFA announcing the selection of Russia in 2018 and Qatar in 2022 with the declaration they had both met the FIFA standard as being “as undemocratic and corrupt as we are”.
n a FIFA official walking along with a trail of money leaking from a briefcase as he announces: ”We are going to clean up our act”.
n a collage of the empires of Rome, Genghis Khan and Britain alongside a FIFA empire, with its president mocking the others as “Amateurs!”
As the chorus of criticism swelled FIFA was bombarded with demands that it change its mind and disqualify Qatar. Should it do so the Dubai-based satirical journal, Pan-Arab Enquirer, offered consolation from a Qatar insider’s website: “To be honest, with all the bad press we’ve been getting we’ll be glad of anything really. Snooker, Scrbble, darts …we’d be happy to hold the darts World Cup if the FIFA thing doesn’t work out.” But this, too, could raise objections from the World Darts Federation about Qatar’s strictures against alcohol and “the effect of the extreme summer temperatures on the sport’s mostly obese fanbase.”
However, as of this date Qatar is still planning to be the world’s center of attention in 2022 not in snooker, Scrabble or darts but, strange as it seems, football. The satirists can hardly wait.