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FIFA Executive Committee member: Qatar World Cup a “blatant mistake”

Jul 24, 2013, 5:35 PM EDT

Qatar 2022

It’s only 2013. We’re just under a decade away from the 2022 finals, and already can’t get the Qatar World Cup out of the headlines. Imagine how ridiculous the conversation is going to be as approach the actual tournament.

But given the circumstances surrounding the Middle East’s first World Cup, you’ve going to hear more people echo Theo Zwanziger, with the former German federation president and current member of FIFA’s executive committee labeling Qatar’s awarding of the 2022 event a “blatant mistake.”

From the AP’s reporting:

A member of FIFA’s executive committee says awarding the 2022 World Cup to Qatar was a “blatant mistake” and that even moving it to avoid searing summer temperatures wouldn’t be ideal.

Former German soccer federation president Theo Zwanziger tells SportBild that a suggestion by FIFA President Sepp Blatter to play the tournament in winter would seriously affect the European leagues and threaten the “unity of German football” …

“If the decision at the time was really wrong you have to cancel it and avoid burdens on those previously uninvolved,” Zwanziger said.

As increasing ludicrous as the 2022 World Cup is looking, there are two sides to this. Yes, there are serious questions about the way Qatar was awarded the event. The 100-plus degree summer temperatures, size of the country, and lack of existing infrastructure (namely, stadiums) would have been enough to doubt the decision without the increasingly substantiated allegations of voting collisions and outright bribery. There are plenty of reasons to disagree with this decision, this process.

But some of what Zwanziger says also reeks of a certain elitism. Why the “unity of German football” should be a primary concern (or at all relevant) in awarding or scheduling World Cups is unclear. The idea that rescheduling the event would seriously threaten European leagues is an exaggeration. Better to say seriously inconvenience them (some rescheduling isn’t going to threaten something as strong as European football). And if those factors are playing a major part in Zwanziger’s view that there should be a re-vote, there’s more than a little European elitism in that view. There’s more than a little reason to doubt his biases.

We never discuss this, but there should be a mechanism that allows areas of the world with more favorable January climates to host World Cups. Locations shouldn’t be forbidden on summer climate alone. There should be a way to have a “winter” World Cup, be that some standardized rescheduling of August-to-May leagues or a unilateral change to that year’s FIFA calendar. To essentially forbid places like the Middle East, north and west Africa, and southeast Asia (among other places) from hosting the tournament does a huge disservice to a large swath of the world’s soccer fans.

So there are two sides to Zwaninger’s rhetorical coin. Is he right to point out the absurdity of how Qatar was awarded the World Cup? No doubt. But he goes to far, essentially making the argument that the Middle East should never host a World Cup. And ultimately, by creating a system that turns its back on an entire region of people, Zwaniger’s advocating a criteria that may be even more unfair than the process that awarded 2022.

  1. talgrath - Jul 24, 2013 at 5:56 PM

    At this point, that bird has already flown; too much money has already been spent (remember all those tanks U.A.E. bought?) and too much planning already done. Maybe next time you should actually award World Cups based on location and preparation than who has the most money to use to bribe you.

  2. rhaaland - Jul 24, 2013 at 6:59 PM

    Why should there be a mechanism for winter World Cups? The point of the World Cup is to crown a quad-ennial world champion. The point isn’t to give everyone a chance to host, or at least it shouldn’t be.

    • Michael - Jul 26, 2013 at 12:51 PM


      We’d all love life to be perfectly “fair” (notwithstanding that people strongly disagree over what constitutes “fairness”), but world footy is on a schedule. Even (and especially) those “hot summer” countries. Disruption costs significant to not only big leagues like the EPL and Bundesliga but myriad small leagues and clubs operating on a shoestring.

      Qatar has no more right to host a World Cup than Greenland has the right to host camel races.

      Oh, and anyone advocating winter “fairness” should never so much as peep about moving MLS to “the FIFA calendar” ever again.

  3. markburst - Jul 24, 2013 at 7:09 PM

    Life is unfair. The Middle East and Southeast Asia and North Africa are in the 3rd world and hosting such a competition is a tremendous burden in the infrastructure and resources of the nation. Look at Brazil, they are climbing into the first world but still the logistics of the competition is a huge challenge. Not to mention, who in their right mind would spend a day, much less a few weeks in these hell holes? I would never … I may go to Brazil if it is deemed safe, but you could not pay me to travel to Qatar, Summer, Winter, Spring or Fall.

    • mashoaf - Jul 25, 2013 at 2:10 AM

      Qatar is beautiful and and amazing country markburst. They have all the resources and money they would ever need to host the World Cup, so please look up info before you speak out of your rear.

      • wyrm1 - Jul 25, 2013 at 6:38 AM

        It may be a beautiful country, but it is also tiny, and the bid there requires the building of 12 stadiums, of which 2 may ever be used again.

        That, combined with the disaster that was the Asian Cup in 2011 generally shows its unsuitability for hosting a big event such as the World Cup. If fans were banned from stadiums during the World Cup to accommodate the Royal family, they would need those tanks that they bought.

      • supercoop8 - Jul 25, 2013 at 10:04 AM

        I read that there were nine stadiums needed to be built but yea its excessive for a country under two million people. I think the best idea would have been to share the opportunity with Bahrain and the UAE. Existing stadiums would be used and people would be distributed over a larger area not just over one main city.

      • larryang - Jul 25, 2013 at 12:00 PM

        Not enough human resources or infrastructure. Mass transit? Hotels? Then again, the country isn’t that far off from a theme park as it is…

  4. jdfsquared - Jul 25, 2013 at 9:00 AM

    If current trends continue, much less escalate, FIFA won’t be able to deny a US bid in ’26 or ’30.

  5. kingkong90002013 - Jul 25, 2013 at 10:10 AM

    Some reports say that this issue is a blatant mistake?

    Up to this moment, almost all have been discussed thoroughly. We know that there were two most influential people in FIFA having different ideas about the 2022 tournament. One aimed at USA while the other the Qatar.

    Also, it is already a truth that the one who wanted to give the holding right to Qatar is Platini because he admitted. As well, he admitted that, before the vote, he had already promised two things to the Qataris heads. One of these two promises is to move the time from summer to winter. Therefore, it is impossible to say that the FIFA voting members did not know.

    Adding to the admittance of Platini, the other lower and middle ranked officials in FIFA knew too. That is why they have a technical report saying that it is a high risk to hold the tournament in Qatar in summer. Apparent and reasonably, no super figure head in FIFA dared say no to Qatar, like telling Australia that Australia is not the targeted choice, because the wealth power of this middle east country which has many influential people, like rich businessmen and the then AFC president. Remember also that when Australia wanted to bid for a winter World Cup tournament for better TV watching rate due to the higher population in the Asian time zone, Blatter turned that proposal of changing to winter down. This suggestion by the Australian bidding team was well reported. Why Australia asked for a change? Maybe, it was because that they have heard that the competitor, Qatar, was asking for a change. Why Blatter turned the change down? Maybe, he was targeting for USA to hold the World Cup in 2022. Anyhow, there is no excuse whatsoever that the senior, middle or junior officials did not know. Actually, almost everyone in the world knows the heat problem in Qatar as far as he/she can use online technology.

    As said above, Blatter did ask Qatar not to apply due to the heat problem, like refusing to recommend Australia to enter the bidding competition, because he could not dare say no to the very influential Qataris and some of the high ranking members in FIFA. Therefore, he was thinking that the technical report would work, working in a way to change some of the minds of the voting members. However, he failed. That was why we could see some of the reports saying that he mentioned about the technical report in a number of occasions after Qatar had won.

    After saying so many facts that almost everyone knew beforehand that there was a heat problem in a country in the middle of a desert, many dare say that this is not a mistake. This is not a mistake as titled. This is the most blatant cheat!

    This is a cheat.

  6. dkalev - Jul 26, 2013 at 12:46 AM

    Dude… You are aware that Israel is a first world country right? And it is in the Middle East…

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