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Saturday, February 26, 2011

Qatar, FIFA in a mess over 2022 World Cup

This is getting ridiculous. Qatar’s head of state, Emir Sheikh Hamad bin Khalifa al Thani (try saying that ten times fast with a mouth full of cornflakes) has told reporters that a public vote would now be taken to find out if the people want the World Cup in 2022 at the height of their muscle-melting summer (June-July) or the comparatively cooler winter (Jan-Feb).
You’d have thought this whole thing would be a non-issue, well in advance of the Qataris even bidding to host the thing.
But no, here we go on the seasonal merry-go-round once more.
FIFA president, Sepp Blatter had initially said that the Cup might be moved to winter, presumably to placate European teams who don’t want their players being fried alive in 50-degree celsius mid-day heat.
Then it went back to sticking with summer, as that’s how it’s always been – which sounds entirely sensible to me. Especially when there was all that talk about Qatar’s bid including supposedly fanciful air-conditioned stadiums and all that.
As reported on The World Game online, the Sheikh spoke during a visit by David Cameron, the British Prime Minister.
Worse was to come.
The Prime Minister of Qatar, Hamad bin Jassim bin Jabr al Thani (try saying… no, maybe not) announced to the world in a Nicholas Watt article for London’s Guardian that he knows nothing much about anything to do with football, really.
“I do not know the rules,” the PM said.
“I like sport, of course, but I am not involved.”
Hmm. I think most politicians of a country attempting to host the world’s biggest single sporting event would have ducked out of the palace for a quick scan of “The Complete History Of The FIFA World Cup” from the local library before making a statement like that one.
According to the World Game, only three weeks ago, Blatter had presumably confirmed it would be summer – and no more ifs, buts or maybes about it.
A month before that, it was going to be in the northern hemisphere winter.
“I am not in favour of one or the other,” Blatter added helpfully, according to The World Game on February 7.
“I think, for the time being the matter is on ice.”
It sounds like no-one knows what’s going on any more. Either Blatter or someone on the Qatari organising committee needs to play the game popularised by Austin Powers movie villain Dr Evil.
Getting back to it all being on ice, however, now there’s an alternative World Cup worth thinking about; why not have it all on ice.
Maybe that was what El Presidente Sepp really meant? It would certainly eradicate the seasonal argumentativeness altogether.
On ice – indoors, devoid of any other climatic concerns. How about Pluto? That’s made of ice, isn’t it? Not accepted as an official planet, now, though.
That wouldn’t get past the FIFA Executive Committee – when a world isn’t a proper world you can’t hold a World Cup there. Closer to home we must look.
The Arctic Circle? There’s plenty of ice there. And cold summers, too. The polar bears might try to stage a few pitch invasions, Qatari security staff may have their work cut-out in that department, and what with all those arctic ground squirrels, too.
Let’s try the other end of the world, then, the Antarctic. There’s no less than 60 venues available, with accommodation on-site as well.
Half of them would even be open during the high tourist season of summer. Perfect for the Cup, then.
And if the ticket prices are too expensive for most fans, FIFA could always bus in a load of Emperor penguins for the day.