This past summer, millions of Americans showed a first time interest in the world’s most popular sport: soccer. We in the states have our own brand of football, an indication of soccer’s low popularity in the United States.
Until this past summer, our national interest in soccer ended after AYSO Soccer. Many saw the sport as the game of “Old Europe.” The MLS, Major League Soccer, and the NFL, National Football League, don’t even belong in the same room together.
However, this sentiment took a 180 degree turn. Americans sat on the edge of their seats as the US made an incredible run in the sport’s pinnacle event, the World Cup. At an impressive moment, the US tied their faceoff against England, possibly the world’s most soccer-ized nation. We cried along with American team members as we suffered a tragic loss to the Nigerian national team.
South Africa hosted this past World Cup and did so in noteworthy fashion. The world watched as the once apartheid ridden nation came together with a newfound sense of unity and pride.
FIFA, the Federation of International Football Association, meets every eight years and decides the next two locations of the World Cup. Brazil will host the 2014 World Cup, which makes sense: Brazil holds the record for most World Cups, and the event has never made it to the South American continent. FIFA delegates met in Zurich, Switzerland to decide the location of the 2018 and 2022 World Cup. The US, due to its newfound excitement over the game,  hoped to host the 2022 event.
Ultimately, Russia was chosen to host the 2018 games. The country may not be good at soccer, but at least it has a solid infrastructure and can be found on a map by kindergarteners. It’s too bad Russians would rather spend a Saturday afternoon with a bottle of vodka watching figure skating. One Russian hopeful was quoted saying “Maybe we’ll get better roads. I’d like that.”
You might be wondering why the world’s largest country is bad at soccer. Russia has a disconnect between those with knowledge and those with power. Russia’s command inefficiently allocates the resource of soccer ability.
However, Russia wasn’t the main shocker out of the Swiss FIFA meeting. Instead of choosing the US to host 2022 FIFA, the host will be…Qatar! We know what you’re thinking: that’s a country?
Qatar is roughly the size of Connecticut: the state that needs a line drawn to it on a U.S. map because the letters don’t fit inside. However, Connecticut has more residents than Qatar, with a population size around 1.5 million. FIFA chose Qatar with hopes of spreading the popularity of the game to less soccer-oriented nations. An admirable goal, except for the fact that Qatar is ranked 113th world.
The real reason for the choice is, of course, money. Oil-enriched Qatar has promised to build ten brand new air conditioned, solar powered and open air stadiums. Qatar will donate all of the stadiums, except one, to soccer loving, less fortunate nations.
As generous as this may be, is this really a message worth sending to the world—that a game based on equality of nations can be bought? Does skill at the sport not serve as a prerequisite to host the event? Could Chadwick host the Superbowl? We think not.