Thursday, 9 December 2010

Asia's Qatar plea highlights FIFA's blinkered thinking

Dec. 2, 2010 - Zurich, California, Switzerland - Sheikh Hamad bin Khalifa Al-Thani, Emir of Qatar, holds the World Cup trophy after the announcement of Qatar hosting the 2022 soccer World Cup at Messezentrum in Zurich, Switzerland, on 02 December 2010. K66982AM. © Red Carpet Pictures

Dangers to fans and players have prompted the Asian Football Confederation to urge FIFA to reschedule the 2022 World Cup to January or February in order to avoid the scorching 40 degree summer heat in Qatar.

AFC General Secretary Peter Velappan also believes European countries may boycott in protest at the dangerously hot temperatures and that the proposed air-conditioned stadiums are not enough.

After the horse has bolted springs to mind.

Anyone could have told you that the heat in the summer months of Qatar make everyday tasks difficult let alone running around on a football field.

The Qatar bid may have sounded futuristic and clever, but the plans to cool the stadiums with solar powered air conditioning is totally unproven and neglects the fact that there is a lot more going on during a World Cup than just the matches.

A reschedule to January would cause all sorts of administrative problems to a score of FA's around the World and would further antagonise those angered at FIFA's decision to award the tournament to the small gulf state in the first place.

Their blatant disregard of these very serious issues just shows the lack of clear, coherent thinking that went into the FIFA Executive vote last week.

If Sepp Blatter is right in his claim that FIFA is financially clean and clear then the Qatar decision was one made to further some idealistic (and egotistical) crusade to spread the beautiful game around the World.

All very admirable and I agree that the World Cup should go to new places, but not at the expense of practical concerns such as dangerously high temperatures .But if it pads out Sepp’s legacy (and lines his wallet) anything appears to go.

If FIFA isn’t as clean as we all suspect then the decision looks to be financially motivated given the vast financial resources Qatar has to offer and the absence of any free media to check it is spent correctly.

Either way it has neglected a very basic problem with Qatar’s bid and one of the reasons it was labelled ‘high-risk’ in those much ignored technical reports.

Velappan couldn’t have been clearer though with his comments:

"Qatar is a nice country but there is no way football can be played in June and July there. No player will ever want to play in these conditions,"

Yet Qatar insist any plans to move the tournament weren’t in their bid:

 "It has never been said by the bid team that the tournament would be staged in January. It will be in the traditional window. That is what has been proposed in the bid book and what the campaign has been based on."

A European protest would be very amusing and would perhaps force FIFA to think twice about making such pig-headed decisions in the future. But it would be needed to be lead by a country other than England. We are unpopular enough among the footballing community as it is so any moves by us to fight against the 2022 World Cup would be seen as another dose of sour grapes.

We are tied down, screaming at a brick wall. We are relying on the actions of others now to try and expose FIFA for the morally bankrupt, financially corruptible organisation we all really suspect it is.

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