I meant to get up in time for the live announcement by FIFA as to where the 2018 and 2022 World Cups will be hosted. But working til 1 a.m. usually prevents me from waking before 1 p.m. So I missed it. Luckily, I had plenty of texts on my phone waiting for me when I woke up. Unfortunately, they told me the U.S. had been nipped by oil-rich Qatar. FIFA decided to entrust a nation which had never competed in the sport’s greatest spectacle, to host it.
Concerned 1: World Cup announcement delayed 30 minutes. Must be waiting for Qatar’s check to clear.
Pissed Off 1: The voters did what was best for their pockets…Not the game. Period. No way around it.
Pissed Off 2: Good luck getting American fans to the Middle East. We are the biggest fan group with most money. F*ck ‘em.
HickFlick: The World Cup in Qatar is the worst idea since Napoleon invaded Russia.
Incredulous 1: Any precedent for reversing the decision? Like if the oil business collapses. It’s a long 12 years away…
Then I logged into my freshly minted Twitter account to find it aflutter with Qatari-related tweets. Luckily for y’all – the nerd that I am – I happen to follow a bunch of American soccer players and writers.
GrantWahl: FYI, I’m not upset that USA lost. If Australia, Korea or Japan had won bid, FIFA would look cleaner and less influenced by oil money… Choosing Qatar and Russia is the biggest indictment possible that FIFA is not a clean organization. Petrodollars talk.
GrantWahl: Well, Russia lost once today. Just turned down a Russian hooker at posh FIFA ExCo hotel in Zurich.
(That’s better than what happened when Wahl went to Central America to cover the U.S. soccer team last year and was robbed.)
WorldSoccerEd: (Gavin Hamilton, London) Peter Hargitay, former Blatter adviser, Australia 2022 consultant, gobsmacked by Qatar decision on BBC R4: “One day I’ll tell real story.”
WorldSoccerEd: ..Amnesty Int. annual report will now be required reading ahead of Qatar 2022. Sure they’ve got nothing to hide…
Robbierogers: Wooowww can’t believe this… So scandalous!!!!
SachaKlejstan: Cant believe USA lost the World Cup bid!! Guess I’ll have to pull a Claudio Suarez and play til I’m 41 so I can play in WC 2026 in USA!
JimmyConrad_com: Even the people who run the BCS for college football can’t explain how the U.S. failed to secure the bid for the 2022 World Cup.
JimmyConrad_com: Word on the Street: FIFA is considering Bermuda, Greenland and Malta as hosts for the 2026 World Cup.
KingKhano: Does FIFA understand that Qatar has to put a team in the World Cup??? What a joke! Still in shock. Sad for U.S. and England.
TaylorTwellman: Just watched it again and did anyone else notice that Qatar officials weren’t even surprised they got it??
Alecko11: Armenia for the 2026 World Cup!!! Best way to qualify is to host. Genius move Qatar! Going thru 2 yrs worth of qualifiers is so overrated…
Rmpuckett: I heard LeBron has decided to take his talents to Qatar.
(Actually it’s LeBaron. As in U.S. Ambassador to Qatar, Joseph E. LeBaron. Seriously.)
OK, so people not named Khalil or Ali are a bit peeved and bemused. But you can forgive the financially-swayed FIFA voters. “We’re gettin’ Arab money!” Rumor has it, Busta Rhymes flew into Zurich for a private show and Sepp Blatter requested his personal fave: “C’mon All My Niggas, C’mon All My Bitches!”
But unless Qatar’s oil wells dry up (not happening according to a U.S. State Department report stating proven oil reserves of 15 billion barrels should enable continued output at current levels for 37 years), we’re stuck with World Cup 2022 in the desert. Like it or not, corrupt or not.
So let’s get to know Qatar:
First off, let’s figure out how to pronounce the damn country. The CIA World Factbook says the native pronunciation falls between “cutter” and “gutter.” But it’s not as if the CIA has a perfect batting average when it comes to Middle East intel. But they are adamant it’s not pronounced like “guitar.” So we can cut out all the Eric Clapton and Slash jokes now.
And Qataris are not 45-year old dudes playing Q-bert on a rudimentary gaming system that also features Pong and Missile Command.
Qatar has the world’s third largest gas reserves, nearly 14 percent of Earth’s total. In fact, the country has more gas than Frederick W. Palowaski, “Ogre, you asshole.” (I couldn’t find the full scene from the burping contest on YouTube.)
Now, as you might expect, it’s friggin’ hot in Qatar. No shit Sherlock, it’s the desert. And with average June and July temperatures at 106 and 115, respectively, it seems as if FIFA is doing a study case for the World Cup 2046, which will be played on the surface of the sun.
I watched most of Qatar and the United States’ presentations to the voters Wednesday and while Morgan Freeman was f—king up, “Whoops, I skipped a page,” the Qatari delegation had a neat-o animation as to how the stadiums will be kept cool in the scorching heat.
It all seemed very impressive, but I’ve done experiments like that myself. When you blast the A/C with the car windows open, isn’t it still pretty damn hot?
Qatar is run by a dictator (Amir Hamad bin Khalifa al-Thani) who got the job by overthrowing his own father in a bloodless coup while Pops was vacationing in Switzerland. Junior had good reason for giving dad the boot though, after his father crippled the country’s economy by siphoning off petroleum revenues.
FIFA also seems to have a sense of humor, providing the Jews with a nice Hannukah gift. They put the World Cup in a nation that doesn’t even recognize Israel as a country. Israel is allowed to maintain a commercial office in Doha though, but no embassy. At least the Qataris realize the Jews are good for something.
According to the BBC, in April 2006, Qatar promised $50 million to the new Hamas-led Palestinian government, while many western countries cut off financial support to the Palestinian Authority since its election of a Hamas-led government.
Though it’s not all terrorists and antisemitism. The Qataris pledged more than $100 million of Hurricane Katrina relief to colleges and universities in Louisiana affected by the hurricane. Even Jew-lane?
In February, Qatar and Iran signed a defense co-operation agreement in which the two countries stressed the need to expand their defense cooperation, including Qatar’s support for Iran’s right to nuclear technology.
But seriously guys, how important is that stuff?
Here’s the crap that matters. The laws of Qatar tolerate alcohol to a certain extent. However, the few bars and nightclubs in Qatar operate only in expensive hotels and clubs, with only one importer and retailer for alcohol in the entire country. Under Qatar’s Sharia Law (oh where have you gone Sharron Angle?), it is illegal to show alcohol or be drunk in public.
The Irish are beside themselves. Actually, the Germans are pretty pissed. They’ll at least have a team in the Cup. Oooh, burn.
In 1994, the U.S. set a World Cup attendance record that still stands. In 2010, the U.S. sent more fans to South Africa than any other nation. We have state-of-the-art stadiums already built and don’t play near the Earth’s core.
Sure the U.S.’ successes in soccer are modest, but compared to Qatar, the U.S. is John Wooden’s UCLA Bruins.
But it’s not as if Qatar doesn’t have any soccer tradition. The Qatar U-20 national team finished second in the 1981 FIFA World Youth Championship, losing the final 4-0 to Germany.
Yup, that’s it. That’s as good as it gets.
Well, here’s to you Qatar. Perhaps now we’ll know how to pronounce your damn name.