Many American soccer fans were recently thrilled when the U.S. men’s soccer team — which has not experienced anywhere near the same success as its women counterparts — qualified for this year’s FIFA Men’s World Cup in Qatar after failing to qualify for the 2018 World Cup in Russia.
When Team USA did not qualify for 2018’s FIFA Men’s World Cup, it was the first time that happened since 1986. But while the return of the United States to World Cup soccer is something that will captivate many people, whether they are a casual fan or an American Outlaw, there is a lot wrong with Qatar’s upcoming event.
We will have a bit more time to analyze and dissect the teams and the event itself since it will be kicking off later than most Men’s World Cups do, but here are five things that are completely wrong with Qatar 2022.
Find your favorite soccer game today (or tomorrow) leading up to the World Cup with our cool schedule.
The Bidding Process
It has been over a decade since FIFA’s bidding process for the 2022 Men’s World Cup reached its crescendo with Qatar being awarded the international soccer championship event. Except, it is easy to forget that the host countries for the 2018 and the 2022 World Cups were announced on the same day.
Anyone who follows FIFA politics on a regular basis knows that it is an organization, similar to the IOC and other international sporting bodies, that probably would not win gold medals for ethics. Allegations of bribery and backroom deals cloud many World Cup bidding processes, and the steps of awarding joint 2018 and 2022 World Cups was no exception.
The 2018 World Cup was awarded to Russia — in a bidding process where England, considered to be the international flagship nation of the sport, was also coveting the event. The United States put forth a bid for the 2022 World Cup, but lost to Qatar, only to be given the 2026 World Cup in tandem with Canada and Mexico — dubbed “United 2026.”
Winter World Cup-land?
Typically, the FIFA Men’s World Cup is staged during the summer months of May, June or July. In fact, many pundits who were closely following the bidding process believed with all certainty that Qatar’s overbearing heat during the summer months would all but disqualify them from the opportunity to stage the event.
According to Weather-Atlas.com, the average June temperature in Qatar is above 106 degrees Fahrenheit. When taking into consideration heat index, that reads close to 126 degrees Fahrenheit. In July, Qatar’s heat index rises to nearly 140 degrees Fahrenheit, according to Weather-Atlas.
Instead, Qatar beat out the United States, a country that has virtually enough stadiums to host a World Cup at any time. Qatar 2022 organizers later got the memo that hosting a World Cup during the summer was all but impossible, unless every stadium was built with a roof. Only one of the World Cup stadiums will have one, and it is retractable.
Instead, Qatar 2022 will be held during the November and December months — a first for a Men’s World Cup. While this does not interfere with the MLS season, it certainly creates a conflict with the Premier League’s schedule, considered to be the major leagues of domestic soccer organizations.
Typically, World Cups run in either June or July — right before the start of the Premier League season in August.
Mistreatment (and Death) of Workers
The construction of the Men’s World Cup stadiums in Qatar has not come without some tragic consequences.
According to a 2021 report from The Guardian, 6,500 migrant workers died in Qatar since FIFA awarded the World Cup to the Middle Eastern nation. Those workers came from other nearby nations, such as India, Pakistan, Nepal, Bangladesh and Sri Lanka. The report also mentions that the 6,500 number was likely an undercount.
The deaths related to the construction is the result of an audacious preparation plan Qatar embarked on when it won the opportunity to host the 2022 FIFA Men’s World Cup. The construction projects undertaken in the small Arabic country include the construction of a new city that will host the Men’s World Cup Final.
Qatar 2022 is also the catalyst for the building of seven new stadiums, as well as new public transportation systems and an airport. Amnesty International, as detailed in a report from The Athletic, described the conditions migrant workers are being subjected to as those that “amount to forced labour.”
While former FIFA President Sepp Blatter’s claim that it was time for a Men’s World Cup to be brought to an Arabic nation may have been true, one wishes it did not come with such dire consequences for those tasked with making everything come together.
Out with the 32, in with the 48
For an entity that refers to itself as a “registered charity” in Switzerland where it is headquartered, FIFA never passes up an opportunity to turn down money.
Another issue with Qatar’s World Cup is it will be the final one where 32 teams will qualify. The Men’s World Cup will expand to 48 teams starting in 2026 with the joint “United” World Cup with Canada, the United States and Mexico as hosts.
More teams typically equal a downgrade in the caliber of competition — but an upgrade in how much money will line FIFA’s war chest.
Size Does Matter
The World Cup is one of the biggest sporting events in the world, so staging it in a country as geographically small as Qatar — taking into consideration traveling teams, fans and media— is a major undertaking.
In addition, it will be a physically taxing event on the footballers who will be taking to the pitches this winter. The World Cup schedule is calling for 64 games to be held in a grand total of 28 days.
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