Fie on FIFA
The award of the 2022 football World Cup competition to Qatar may at first glance seem a bonus for Asia, beating out bids by the US and Australia, which have never hosted it, and South Korea, which was joint host with Japan in 2002.
But Qatar's success not only looks like further confirmation of the corruption which lies at the heart of FIFA – the little clique which controls award of the competition -- but is a slap in the face of the climate change talks now taking place in Cancun.
In order to back its claim to host the games at the height of the Gulf summer, when the temperatures regularly hits an average July high of 44 degrees Celsius (115 Fahrenheit) the gas-rich state had to promise to build a series of massive, climate-controlled stadia which will consume monstrous amounts of carbon-generated energy. So Qatar, which already has the world's highest per capita carbon emissions – double those of the US – is being encouraged to further despoil the climate.
Furthermore it is almost certain that these stadiums, to be built at enormous cost, will barely be used after the event by a state with a population of just 1.5 million, three quarters of them foreigners with no right of abode.
The award is also an insult to football fans, particularly from populous east and south Asia. Not only is Qatar only accessible by expensive air travel but its cost of living is one of the highest in the world. Thus this will be a tournament only for the relatively few people who live in the Gulf states and rich people from elsewhere.
Depending on the ticket pricing, the matches may even be beyond the reach of many of the poorly paid south Asians who do the dirty work for the Arab populations of Qatar and its neighbors.
The only things that matters to FIFA boss and the 22 members of his executive committee which awards the competition is money. The process of choosing the winners went ahead despite well-founded allegations in the British media of widespread corruption in the bidding process. The Swiss section of Transparency International called for the voting to be delayed while the allegations were investigated. But FIFA's boss, Sepp Blatter of Switzerland, went ahead regardless of the sleaze surrounding him. Making matters even worse was that by deciding two future venues at one time the decision makers were able to play deals among themselves as well as respond to pecuniary rewards.
That Russia won the right to stage the 2018 matches was not very surprising despite the technical superiority of England's bid. Russia is a significant footballing nation with a large population and is readily accessible to the large populations of neighboring states such as Poland. But clearly the power of money, so all-important in Russia, also played a role.
FIFA is not just a body that controls international football and awards tournaments. It generates vast amounts of money from sponsorships which is supposed to go to develop the sport. In reality it creates a massive slush fund for use by Blatter and a narrowly-selected committee elected in none too transparent procedures.
It is perhaps typical of Switzerland, which hosts such international bodies on the basis that it is a clean and neutral country but in reality lets money rule and makes no attempt to clean up either FIFA or its Olympic counterpart the IOC.
Asia's legions of football followers have every reason to be dismayed by the way Blatter and gang have manipulated the voting structure to the detriment of football as a whole. As for Swiss "cleanliness", it's a dirty joke.