I spent a significant part of my childhood in Brazil, a country that lives and breathes football, and it is certainly where I first developed an appreciation for the beauty of the game and a bitterness towards its darker sides.
Because so much money is involved in football, corruption is rampant in all aspects of the sport.
The world’s biggest and most popular sporting event, the World Cup, was held in Qatar because of bribery. This is a country with no love for the game, no infrastructure for such an event, but buckets of oil money. by Tom Blow Irish Mirror “Absolute disgrace” -Jamie Carragher lets rip…” and Tariq Pancha and Kevin Draper “US Says FIFA Officials Bribed to Give World Cup to Russia, Qatar” New York Times article discusses the extreme consequences of this decision.
The World Cup is football’s biggest event and has been held every four years since 1930. It brings together people from all over the world in one host country, where football and different cultures are celebrated. Sadly, this time we saw the World Cup in Qatar, a country that has never been recognized for football. Its population and size is smaller than most US states, so when Qatar was chosen to host the World Cup in 2010, much of the world knew something was up. It is widely known that FIFA officials are corrupt, but we have no proof. . Now we know that officials who voted for Qatar were bribed.
In The New York Times, Tariq Pancha and Kevin Draper explain how the US Department of Justice got involved in the FIFA Qatar corruption case. In their article, they show a copy of an official DOJ document stating that “US prosecutors on Monday clearly disclosed details of payments to five members of FIFA’s top board ahead of the 2010 vote to host Russia and Qatar.”
Most of these officers have now been removed from their roles, but it was too late.
Qatar is really small and Qatar did not have the necessary infrastructure to attract the tourism of the World Cup, which is the most expensive World Cup ever, costing 220 billion. Cost more than the last ten World Cups combined!
Many of the stadiums used in the World Cup had to be built from scratch by willing migrant workers. These workers endured the most appalling working conditions, as Tom Blow noted: “At least 6,500 migrant workers are believed to have died since Qatar began building infrastructure for the tournament, although organizers have denied this.”
Are we shocked that migrant workers are subjected to this in a country with serious human rights problems? Imagine returning home without knowing whether the worker’s loved ones are alive or not, as they don’t even have the courtesy to acknowledge the worker’s death. I am an immigrant, so I know a little about how badly these countries treat us. But the treatment these migrant workers received in Qatar was inhumane. Sadly, now that these stadiums have been used for a few World Cup matches, most of them will be destroyed because the cost of maintaining them is too high. What were all those lives lost for? A few games.
This World Cup has taken a toll on the athletes. Because Qatar is mostly desert, they had to move the World Cup to winter, and the average temperature in Qatar in summer is 90°F. The World Cup is usually played in June and July, which is the best. Time for the players, as the regular football season ends in May, giving them time to rest and recover from injuries.
As this World Cup took place in the middle of the football season during the winter, it felt crowded during the season, with games almost every three days to make up for missed games when Qatar held the World Cup. Speaking from experience, playing every three days is a nightmare: your body doesn’t have enough time to rest and heal, and you get injured easily. Tom Blow observed in his Irish Mirror article, “It’s getting to the mid-season stage where players who spend their whole lives playing at the World Cup won’t be playing.”
Americans don’t realize how deeply ingrained football is in some people’s lives. But when I was a kid, I remember Ivory Coast qualifying for their first World Cup in 2010. At the time, the country was embroiled in a bitter civil war, but the national team players called on the country to end the war and stand together. One, at least until the World Cup is over. And, would you believe it, the civil war was put on hold until after the World Cup.
So when players grow up dreaming and working hard every day, it’s really sad to see their dreams dashed by a minor injury. The World Cup is supposed to represent the pinnacle of a nation’s football power, but how can that happen when so many superstars stay at home to cheer for their team instead of supporting them? After the World Cup the players had only a week off before club football resumed. It was only a week off after a tough tournament; People sometimes forget that athletes are still human and not machines that can play every week of the year.
All this being said, this World Cup has actually been one of the most exciting and memorable tournaments in recent times, with many unexpected results and inspiring performances from underdogs and established powers alike. It was great to see Morocco make history as the first African nation to reach the semi-finals and to see South Korea and Japan win the hearts of fans around the world. I even saw my hero and idol carry his country on his back as Argentina were crowned winners against France in one of the most intense finals ever.
Football won in the end. But the greed and corruption of FIFA officials and the questionable decision to host the event in Qatar cannot be ignored. While some may argue that “politics doesn’t belong in football” or “it was important to bring the World Cup to the Middle East for the first time”, the appalling treatment and impact of migrant workers in Qatar remains a fact. Players who had to compete in the middle of club seasons cannot be justified.
The World Cup should be a celebration of the beautiful game and a way to exchange culture, a way to bring people together, not a platform for corruption and greed. The World Cup should be staged in a country that respects the welfare and preparation of the players and properly celebrates and appreciates the rich history and culture of football. Australia, Argentina and Morocco are all worthy contenders to host this great occasion and showcase the elegance and diversity of Futbol on a global scale.
With the US being the joint host country for the 2026 World Cup, I hope we can make the most of it as football slowly but surely grows in our country.
Luis Macedo attends Norwalk Community College.