Home / International Soccer / Freezing Cold with a Side of Discrimination…Russia and Qatar Win World Cup Bids


Just when I think FIFA can’t sink any lower in my estimation, they have found a way to shock me yet again by awarding World Cup bids to Russia and Qatar. Now I’ve got nothing against the Russian people, they seem a sad lot at first, cast in the mold of a cold wintry environment marked by economic stagnation, a failed empire, and decades of despotism. But just get to know them, and they become great company. Unfortunately, their national football culture is sorely lacking in involvement, and what stadiums they do have are falling down.

Russia, as a country is massive, but do its location near the top of the world most of the landmass is a unpopulated wasteland that more resembles the ice planet Hoth from Star Wars. Most of its stadiums were built during the “good old days” of the Soviet Union and haven’t really been upgraded since then. This also goes for the road network, rail network (what little there is), and the airports which outside of Moscow resemble something form a Mad Max film. The potholed runways are match only by the rickety planes that fly between them, which are also converted from the Soviet era. Overall, not a great prescription for fans travelling two and from events and I’d predict at least one plane crash.

Another concern in Russia is the fact that the government is completely corrupt and tied to the mafia. The recent leaks from Wikileaks on Vladimir Putin being complicit in organized crime along with his top deputies suggest that event will be marked by nepotism, along with any construction initiatives. FIFA may hope that by awarding the World Cup to Russia they will open a new market with new stadiums for themselves, but in reality all they will end up doing is further enriching the criminal syndicates that are the real power there, especially in the construction industry. And then there are the terrorism fears. It doesn’t get much press these days, but Russia is also fighting a war in the Caucasus and the militants there have attacked Moscow before.

As for Qatar, where to begin? The fact that FIFA, an organization dedicated to women’s soccer as well as men’s, has decided to host the World Cup in a country that is completely opposed to any form of equality for women is reprehensible. Furthermore the system of “sponsorship” for foreign workers in Qatar is akin to modern slavery. Essentially, these people move to Qatar for the promises of high paying jobs, but once they arrive find they have no rights what-so-ever and are forced to except low or no pay in exchange for housing, and if they refuse they are beaten. It should be interesting to see how FIFA get around the fact many of the stadium workers and the people how built the buildings themselves were neither payed and often beaten if they tried to quit.

Also, the sale of alcohol in Qatar is only allowed in side high priced hotels, and it remains illegal to be posses or be drunk in public. I can only imagine the problems this will cause during the competition. The heat also has to be a concern for the players coming to any competition held there. It may be possible to mitigate the effects of 120F weather with sideline hydration over the course of the game, it may not. The fact is no one has ever tried to play a world cup match in the middle of the desert, probably for good reason, and the health of the players and the fans in the stand may require all the games to be played in the cooler evenings or very late at night.

And then there’s the terrorism issue. It seems England’s bid likely went out in the first round due to David Cameron’s idiotic assertion that there was a better than 50% chance that any event would be attacked. Granted, there is probably a 100% chance someone will try to attack the world cup, that doesn’t mean they will succeed or even come close. But in Qatar, it seems so much easier too. The proximity to Iraq and Saudi Arabia makes it so close to trouble, you can literally see it across the border. Overall, I think both awards a are a disaster, both for FIFA and the international soccer community, and I hope they see the light before its too late to change things to another location.

Written by: Matthew Wall, editor, soccerprose.com


About the author: Matthew Wall


I've played soccer since I could walk thanks to my father and love keeping up on all the latest gear and gab. I'm in my twenties, and I'm lucky enough to have found work in search marketing for a leading soccer retailer after completing my M.A. at Georgetown in 2008. My team is Liverpool, and national side is Ireland, but I've also got a passion for GAA and a number of sports. Feel free to give me a shout on Google+


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