Friday, October 3, 2014

Full 90: Under Heat in Qatar

Last week, in a revealing but not shocking statement, a FIFA Executive Committee member communicated his personal belief that the 2022 World Cup would take place in Qatar. The committee member, Theo Zwanziger, in essence, said what many of us have been thinking: Qatar was wrongly awarded the FIFA World Cup.

Qatar, which was awarded the tournament in 2010, is known for its dangerously hot conditions, sometimes reaching higher than 115 degrees Fahrenheit. FIFA was aware of these conditions 4 years ago. FIFA even considered moving the tournament from the traditional summertime, to the winter with hopes of cooler conditions. Even in the winter is the heat unbearable and can create many issues for players’ and spectators’ health. Qatar has insisted that it will able to neutralize the playing conditions through cooling technology in stadiums.

In his comments, Zwanziger justly notes that the World Cup does not merely take place within the stadiums, but around the city wherever supporters and teams go. The threat of injury is far too high for FIFA to take on possible lawsuits.

Domestic leagues around the world are neither in favor of a winter World Cup, as it would disrupt their regular season campaign, as well as designated tournament play.

Zwanziger’s comments has placed a new wave on FIFA to answer questions about the World Cup. A notoriously corrupt governing body, FIFA continues to fend off any doubts that Qatar will be stripped of its award, four years after collecting a handsome purse from the tiny sovereign state.

The biggest issue, which transcends soccer, has been the ongoing deaths of migrant workers. Workers are being overworked, in these deadly conditions, without consideration. The International Trade Union Confederation has projected that some 4,000 workers may die before 2022, if current conditions are not improved. FIFA continues to turn its back on the issue.

On Thursday, Senator Bob Casey (D-Pa.) joined Zwanziger placing more pressure on FIFA, requesting it publicize documents relating to an investigation conducted by the federation, relating to corruption of its 2018 and 2022 World Cup bids. FIFA’s refusal to release the report calls into question, for what reasons was Qatar awarded the World Cup; it certainly isn’t because of the playing conditions, the booming amount of infrastructure, or the ethical labor practices. If in fact Qatar were stripped of the World Cup, there is a chance that it will fall in the hands of the second-place bidder: the United States of America.


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