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Monday, June 14, 2021

‘A winter World Cup is the mess of all messes’

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World Cup Bid Celebration

“A winter World Cup is the mess of all messes. But it is a mess that will have to be cleaned up and quickly.”

-Philippe Auclair, a sports journalist who in a recent Newsweek article lays out a comprehensive overview of Qatar’s 2022 World Cup bid and its implications for the football world.

Updated to include reaction from Qatar residents

In one of the most in-depth pieces written about Qatar and 2022, Auclair expresses serious reservations about the country hosting the tournament, laying out an analysis of the politics behind its bid, and also mentioning the human cost of the construction projects that lay ahead.

He further delves into the most pressing tournament-related matter facing the Gulf country: the weather.

Even before Qatar was awarded hosting rights to the tournament three years ago, the dangers its searing summer heat could pose for athletes and fans were red-flagged by FIFA’s technical committee. But shifting the games to the cooler months is not a simple solution, Auclair argues:

“Holding the tournament in the winter requires logistical changes of such infernal complexity that most professional leagues – not just in Europe – shudder when asked to contemplate it…

The side issues, if that’s the right way to phrase this, would include the rewriting of long-term players’ contracts, sponsorship and broadcasting agreements, as no one could be quite sure of what constituted a “season” anymore. In the United States, the Fox Network, which spent a fortune acquiring the rights to the 2018 and 2022 World Cups has let it be known that it would initiate a legal challenge if the latter of these competitions was moved to, say, November and December – at the height of the NFL and college football seasons.”

He concludes by calling on FIFA to rerun the vote, saying:

“Football cannot – or rather should not –be held hostage to the interests of a single nation and of those who, for reasons few others can understand, have embraced its cause…

From whichever angle one looks at Qatar 2022, the view is ugly. The argument for revisiting the decision to award the World Cup to the emirate is one that FIFA can only ignore if it is willing to destroy its own legitimacy.”

UPDATE | 1:15pm

Reaction to Auclair’s remarks has been swift, with many saying he is being unfair:

https://twitter.com/MBABM/status/409617500985655296

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