With the 2018 FIFA World Cup coming to a close this weekend–third place on Saturday and the final on Sunday–people are already starting to look to the next World Cup in Qatar.
You know, that
soccer-rich culture crazy hot Middle Eastern country that surely has at least one soccer ball within its borders.
While I am not a fan of people immediately dismissing the moment for the future, there was news that broke today that was eye-opening. FIFA President Gianni Infantino (Swiss) confirmed that said World Cup in Qatar four years from now will be November 21-December 18. And in announcing the unorthodox schedule for a tournament meant to be played in June and July, Mr. Infantino added this remark.
“Leagues around the world have been informed already, and of course they will have to adapt.”
“…of course they will have to adapt” is quite the statement to make regarding a host country whose bid process was a bit shady, to say the least. The perception looked like a cash grab by FIFA and Qatar with accusations of corruption in the voting process.
Having traveled to Qatar years back, it’s a nice country and I’m glad I stayed the night, having taken in its burgeoning skyline. It’s sort of a mini Dubai–the new Dubai–to a restrained extent. But when other soccer-rich countries and cultures lost the bid for 2022, that seemed a bit odd.
And now the FIFA president has the gall to speak down to the world’s top soccer leagues–steeped in storied history and tradition, as well as world-class talent–to force them to adapt?
FIFA should have adapted to the traditional needs of the World Cup and its participating coaches and players in awarding the tournament for 2022. Particularly given the historical fallout via corruption charges waged against former FIFA President Sepp Blatter (Swiss) and Co. in 2015 and FIFA officials concerning the Qatar bid, FIFA has yet to earn back the benefit of the doubt in cases like the 2022 bid.
FYI – The road of redemption for FIFA will be long and weighed down in a myriad of heated debates. And it doesn’t help that this road for FIFA is being built to travel through Qatar in November and December.
P.S. Liquor is heavily restricted in Qatar. Well, at least soccer fans aren’t famously known for drinking an alcoholic beverage or two, in a stadium or a pub, when watching the beautiful game…
P.P.S. One unresolved issue still under review is whether the 2022 FIFA World Cup will include 48 teams. No, no and no. It may be time for a competitive marketplace of alternative governing bodies to emerge to challenge FIFA and its endless train of terrible, horrible, no good, very bad ideas as conducted by the Swiss. Perhaps it’s fitting this type of news broke on Friday the 13th.
As my old club soccer coach famously yelled to me across the indoor pitch after I made my very first mistake with my new team, “Boy, what is your malfunction?”
Read the quote below and you’ll understand why I opened with that priceless soccer memory.
“An initial stage of 16 groups of three teams will precede a knockout stage for the remaining 32 when the change is made for the 2026 tournament.
The sport’s world governing body voted unanimously in favour of the change at a meeting in Zurich on Tuesday.”
–BBC Football Online
Shocking? No. Sad? Yes.
Most importantly: Will the World Cup evolve into a better tournament through this expansion effort in 2026? No.
As has been recently discussed in more depth on Jimmy’s Daily Planet back on December 28th (Participation Trophies…for Adults?), the competitiveness of the World Cup will suffer with this expansion. Additionally, FIFA, which is governed by the new president Gianni Infantino, has voluntarily prolonged the embarrassing era with its overarching reputation of bribery and corruption.
To Mr. Infantino and the soccer federations, however, perhaps the influx of money will (again) be enough to quell legitimate concerns of dedicated fans around the world of lessening the competitiveness and difficulty of simply qualifying for the golden opportunity of competing on soccer’s grandest stage.
The future of 48 teams in a World Cup is set to become reality. It’s happening (insert groans here). And those who will argue that this addition of a dozen teams will be superior to the current model with 32 teams were also likely arguing for the Microsoft Zune over the Apple iPod way back when…
On that note: Do you own a Zune? Just because something is new doesn’t necessarily mean it’s better. There can be unforeseen (and very easily seen) malfunctions that occur with its users.
Lucky for me, my aforementioned malfunction was a solitary bad pass. FIFA’s malfunctions will have much more serious, enduring consequences.