FIFA is a laughing stock
Date: January 16, 2014 / Posted by control
Soccer in Australia is going ahead in leaps and bounds.
After decades of disunity and dysfunction the current authorities in this country have given the world game a proper place in the sporting fabric of the nation.
Praise must be given to FFA chairman Frank Lowy and the equally adept and competent men who now oversee the code in Australia. One wonders if some of them may be just what FIFA requires at present as the farce that is Qatar 2022 continues to attract headlines.
Right from the time the vote was counted to grant Qatar the hosting rights for 2022, FIFA’s handling of the situation has been inept, and if it weren’t for the severity of its incompetence, laughable. The Qatar bungle is by no means the first major gaffe FIFA has had but it certainly looms as one of its most infamous.
Five countries tendered for the right to play host to the sport’s showcase in eight years’ time – Australia, USA, Japan, South Korea and Qatar. The four nations who failed to win the staging rights for the 22nd World Cup all had bids that were superior to the victor. Yet the 22 men charged with deciding the venue thought otherwise.
Qatar will be the smallest country to host the sport’s showpiece – it has a population of just 1.7 million. Five new stadia will be built and a sixth in Doha will be expanded. One wonders how quickly the cobwebs will unfurl when the circus moves on.
But should it still be held in the sovereign Arab state?
From day one fans around the globe were shaking their heads at Qatar’s winning bid. When tenders were called for the event it was to be scheduled for the European winter, a timeframe that would have no impact on the northern hemisphere’s major leagues. The five nations in the running tendered on that basis. Qataris, and everyone from FIFA who would cast their vote, knew that at that time of the year you could fry an egg on the sidewalk in minutes. In June and July the daytime temperature can exceed 50℃.
Bid chairman for Qatar 2022, Sheikh Mohammed bin Hamad bin Khalifa al-Thani, stated in March 2009 – nearly two years before the final vote was taken – that “The event has to be organized in June or July. We will have to take the help of technology to counter the harsh weather”.
Problem solved said FIFA’s el supremo Sepp Blatter as the bid had made arrangements for the venues to be suitably air-conditioned. The Qatar bid chairman also said in March 2009 that “we have other plans up our sleeve”. It seems FIFA did as well.
For many months there has been a rumour circulating that the 2022 World Cup would be moved to a more climate friendly time. Last week, FIFA secretary-general Jerome Valcke, said on French radio that the tournament would likely be shifted to “between November 15 and January 15 … when you can play in temperatures equivalent to a warm spring season in Europe.”
The words had no sooner escaped Valcke’s lips before FIFA – the organization he heads up on a day-to-basis – was on the defensive issuing retractions while stating that no such decision had been made (keep in mind at this point that Blatter is the head of FIFA).
UEFA boss Michel Platini was one of many up in arms about Valcke’s comments, saying “I do not see why it is discussed publicly. Two months ago Blatter spoke about it, now it’s Valcke. This is supposed to be a decision for the executive committee of FIFA, but maybe the executive committee doesn’t matter”. Platini may have received an answer to his musings in the past 24 hours with Blatter again going public.
Whilst being interviewed on Britain’s Sky Sports News he came out with the following: “In 2015 we will make a decision whether yes or no we play in summer or winter but the tendency is definitely it is too hot in summer so let’s find a solution to play in winter”. Obviously, Blatter had no idea that Qatar could be so hot in June and July when his merry band of 22 voted for it to stage the World Cup.
If – or rather when – FIFA officially announces a back-flip that would do Greg Louganis proud and reschedules the tournament it will effectively make the initial bidding process null and void. If a rescheduling is granted by FIFA a total re-tendering process has to be sought. Not to do so would be a complete and utter sham.
This process – flawed and corrupt as it may be – is a multi-million dollar one. The FFA alone utilized $45m of taxpayers’ money to put its case forward to host the 2022 event – an event that HAD to be staged in June/July.
One of the key tenets of the entire tendering process looks certain now to be cast aside. Such action demands a totally new bid process and with eight years still to run there is ample time to make amends.
If it is not, the likes of Blatter and many of his cronies need to either step down or be pushed aside.
Soccer is the world game and its billions of fans deserve greater transparency than they are currently receiving.
First published on ‘The Roar’ – theroar.com.au – on 15 January 2014