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MLS commissioner Don Garber says Qatar World Cup could be a “monumental disaster”

Mar 19, 2014, 9:37 PM EDT


Add Don Garber to the list of dignitaries on record against a Qatar World Cup. Speaking to a conference on Wednesday, the Major League Soccer commissioner said the 2022 event could be a “monumental disaster” for soccer worldwide, with the potential of moving the tournament from summer adding to the myriad problems surrounding the planned championship.

Speaking on the opening panel of the 2014 IMG World Congress of Sports, MLS’s top-ranking executive said reports that former FIFA executive committee member Jack Warner took $1.2 million in bribes could add momentum to the case against Qatar.

“That now is going to get a lot more legs,” Garber said of investigations into the potential bribes (as relayed by the Sports Business Journal). “If more comes out, who knows what happens. It’s very disappointing. It’s an unpleasant aspect of the global football business.”

Garber also talked about the potential to move the event to November 2021 or January 2022, saying, “broadcast partners [in the U.S.] might have a problem with it going up against (NFL) football.”

None of which is news, but Garber’s willingness to go strongly on record is. Whereas the anguish with Qatar having been awarded the World Cup could have waned since the 2010 vote, practical considerations concerning weather and scheduling have seen more big names takes stances against the tournament. Don Garber is just the latest in a series of prominent officials who have expressed issues with the tournament.

“It affects all of us for many, many years,” Garber said, calling the uncertain surrounding the tournament “a very difficult situation for our sport.”

Curiously, few have latched on to the most-obvious reason for moving the tournament: Thousands of people are dying to build the facilities that will be used eight years from now. Television contracts and the global soccer calendar? They don’t mean much in the bigger picture. The 2022 World Cup has already led to the loss of a too many lives, and we’re only three years into this process.

Realistically, it’s going to take a political, not humanitarian solution to get the tournament moved from Qatar, and while a number of big names have joined Garber is criticizing the event, many make the same mistake the commissioner did on Wednesday. While his views of Qatar’s problems each have merit, he also compromised his objectivity by hinting the U.S. could gain from a potential move:

“We certainly would be happy to host it here and have a lot of big stadiums that could turn it around and host on very short notice … But we’re going to be on the sidelines on this and hope that FIFA can resolve this in a way that’s good for the sport.”

The major problem with the skepticism of Qatar is that it has mostly come from English and American media, and while the reasons for their incredulity deserve consideration, many around the globe see the two World Cup bid losers as motivated by sour grapes. Add that to many’s tendency to tune out the unwarranted moralizing that characterizes the English media, and  the loudest, strongest complaints about Qatar get ignored.

But just because the messenger has issues doesn’t mean the message is faulty. Qatar is a huge problem, one that’s morphed into a litmus test issue for soccer executives.

Today in Dana Point, Calif., Garber came down in strong opposition to the event. He passed the test.

  1. bosb88 - Mar 19, 2014 at 10:12 PM

    This continue to be a joke. Australia should have been awarded the 2022 World Cup.

  2. rafibomb10 - Mar 20, 2014 at 8:27 AM

    And he is 100% right! We all figured Qatar would be a poor place for a WC anyway. All of the problems that have been discussed make it all the more silly that this place was even an option to host a World Cup. I.e. the need for the games to be played during winter, or air conditioned stadiums. They say knowledge is power, but the truth is that money is power.

    That’s all…

  3. Matthew - Mar 21, 2014 at 12:35 AM

    Reblogged this on Carolina Mountain Blue and commented:
    Tell us something we don’t know, Mr. Garber….remind me again why the 2022 World Cup is being held in Qatar?

    • mazblast - Apr 24, 2014 at 1:52 PM

      Because the Qataris saw a split between various factions, bribed the he** out of a lot of people at or near the top, and bought the vote. What’s really sad is how blatantly obvious it all is, and how FIFA is steadfastly defending its corrupt decision.

      What happens next is obvious. FIFA stalls, more construction (and death) happens, then FIFA says, “Gee, it’s so far along, we can’t back out NOW.”

  4. mikeevergreen - Apr 22, 2014 at 11:56 AM

    The American and British media aren’t the only ones trumpeting this. The Germans and Italians have never liked the idea of the Cup being in the desert.

  5. doug325 - Apr 27, 2014 at 4:48 PM

    The fact is Qatar was probably the worst choice of all the 2022 WC candidates. The country is about the size of Long Island with almost no stadiums. It is by far the smallest country to host a cup and the least prepared. As to the weather conditions, I suppose they could play all the games at night. It would still be hot, but not totally unbearable. The cup should be held her in the US. We have the stadiums and the 1992 WC still holds the record for attendance (and that was with 12 fewer games). There are more expatriots here than in any other country. Not only that, there have been rampant problems with building everything in Qatar

    • boroteesside - Jun 1, 2014 at 10:14 AM

      you will just have to wait another 4 years.. everyone knows 2026 WC will be held in the US, just as everyone knows the Olympics will go to Paris in 2024.

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