By: Shana Levine
Associate Athletic Director
First of all, I would like to acknowledge that most of the subsequent post is coming from a place of upset and frustration. This upset and frustration is over the fact that my vacation plans for 2018 and 2022 are now royally screwed up and have to be thrown out the window. I mean really, Russia and Qatar???
I was really hoping, and looking forward to, traveling to England for the 2018 World Cup and then bouncing from one city to another in the US in 2022. Those plans will clearly now have to be scrapped. I guess it made way too much sense to hold the World Cup in places where the venues and infrastructure are already in existence. England and the US already have more soccer stadiums than would ever be needed to host the cup. Infrastructure in Russia – maybe, not sure on that one. Qatar – definitely not. In fact, they are planning on building 9 stadiums for the event. More on that later.
I am not all that confident about the stability of the Middle East in next month or next year…much less in 2022. Chances of me (or most people) making plans to travel there = probably not great.
I do truly understand the excitement of awarding the world cup to areas of the globe that have never hosted – we just had a very exciting and successful (and loud thanks to the vuvuzelas) World Cup in Africa. So, the idea of Russia and the Middle East hosting for the first time does have a nice ring to it. But when it comes to the implementation, I am not so sure it’s a good idea. I mean Qatar is tiny – about 1,100 square miles smaller than Connecticut. Can you imagine trying to host the World Cup in only a part of Connecticut – with all those people, the number of stadiums and hotels needed?
To add insult to injury, almost everyone that I have heard talking about it on TV and Radio cannot even pronounce Qatar (/’ka:tar/). If you listened to PTI on Thursday evening, you would have heard Tony Kornheiser, Michael Wilbon and Tony Reali pronounce it like “cutter” (\’kə-tər\) multiple times. That’s not even close to correct.
It had to be a big blow to England to not only have the 2018 cup be awarded to Russia, but to only receive one vote from the committee. Ouch. And England pulled out all the stops for their 2018 bid – the final presentation on Thursday included Prince William, Prime Minister David Cameron and Los Angeles Galaxy midfielder and former captain of England’s soccer team, David Beckham. Wow, that’s star power. Even though England is basically the “home” of soccer, it has not hosted the World Cup since 1966. I mean, really, throw them a bone. Oh, and they have an incredible beer selection in their soccer stadiums. I really hope the committee really took that into consideration because I know that I do.
As for the United States’ bid for 2022, it was very much focused on giving back, conservation and promoting environmental sustainability in line with the United Nations’ Millennium Development Goals. The bid included plans to provide a percentage of every ticket sold to go back into providing drinking water for millions in the developing world. Additionally, there was a commitment from the US to uphold high environmental standards in six core areas: water, waste, energy, transportation, procurement and climate change. That all sounds great, right? Well, the FIFA executive committee didn’t think so and actually decided to go the exact opposite direction by awarding the bid to Qatar. Qatar has the highest per-capita carbon dioxide emissions – three times those of the United States. Qatar had the highest per-capita carbon dioxide emissions for the past 18 years. These emissions are largely due to high rates of energy use in Qatar. Awesome. And do you know what was in Qatar’s bid? Well, since it is regularly about 130 degrees there in the summer (right, because it’s a desert) the bid included a plan to create air-conditioned outdoor stadiums. Really? How practical is it to air-condition the outside?
Another great decision by FIFA. Good work. It’s right up there with shying away from goal-line technology. I mean, how important is it to know if the ball really goes in the goal? Especially in such a high scoring game like soccer. (read previous sentences with extreme sarcasm)
So, I guess it looks like I will be headed to Brazil in 2014. Here’s to hoping they have good beer at their stadiums.