FIFA has long been recognized as one of the most corrupt sporting bodies – if not the most corrupt sporting body – in the entire world. The U.S. Department of Justice, however, is hoping to change that, and American efforts couldn’t have come at a better time.
“We talk about a World Cup in Qatar, and from a soccer perspective it’s going to be a disaster,” CBSSports.com’s Jerry Hinnen said on CBS Sports Radio’s Ferrall on the Bench. “We already know this. It’s going to be played in the winter. Qatar, basically their bid was saying, ‘Oh, we can build these super technologically advanced air-conditioned stadiums and we can have it in the summer even though it’s 120 degrees.’ They said, ‘We’ll have these stadiums, it’ll be fine.’”
Then Qatar got the bid and it wasn’t fine. The tournament was moved to December, which is prime time for European club soccer.
“It’s upsetting sort of the entire international soccer calendar,” Hinnen said. “Qatar is not really what most soccer fans would think of as their preferred destination in terms of tourism. Soccer fans like to go out to the pub, have a few beers, that kind of thing – not necessarily what Qatar is known for. Just from a soccer cultural perspective, that was a terrible, terrible decision. That’s strictly talking about from a soccer perspective and not obviously the other horrible horrible aspects of that decision. That’s where all this corruption, all this racketeering, that’s where all this really pays off.”
As Scott Ferrall noted, South Africa spent $2.7 billion to host the World Cup in 2010, Brazil spent $15 billion to host in 2014, Russia is projected to spend $20 billion in 2018 and Qatar is projected to spend an absurd $200 billion.
That just seems shady.
“The day that FIFA announced that Qatar had won this bid, everybody knew it was rigged,” Hinnen said. “Everybody knew everybody had been bought off. This is FIFA. They have been the most corrupt organizing body for sports since probably the day they were founded. It’s been like this for years.”
While many feel that Russia’s World Cup bid was corrupt as well, it is likely that the show must go on. The tournament is not for another three years – which may seem like a long time – but from an infrastructural and logistical standpoint, it’s right around the corner.
That said, it’s not unheard of for host countries to change late in the game. In 1986, for example, the World Cup was supposed to be held in Columbia but was moved to Mexico.
“It’s not totally without precedent,” Hinnen said. “But in the year 2015, we’d be talking about just a gigantic decision there. I certainly don’t see it happening with Russia unless there’s some sort of military unrest. Barring something cataclysmic, the 2018 World Cup is going to happen in Russia.”
Qatar, however, might be a different story, especially if Sepp Blatter is ousted and a European ascends to the FIFA throne. If that were to occur, there could be a push for a revote.
“We would be the country probably best prepared to take it on short notice,” Hinnen said of the United States. “But at this point, I’ll believe it when I see it.”