I can still remember the hours leading up to the announcement of the venue for the 2022 World Cup Finals. I have never had the privilege of attending a tournament but would love to do so in the future and so the potential venues were of great interest to me. I was very concerned about the presence of Qatar in the bidding as I was aware that football authorities in general and FIFA in particular have a long history of making decisions based on money rather than the interests of the game or the fans. They always try to explain away their rulings with claims of high ideals but they don’t wash with me. I was not, therefore, surprised when the tournament was awarded to Qatar but I was angry and I still am!
This time the explanation for the madness was the need to make football inclusive and to take the biggest tournaments to all regions of the world. What a pile of BS! Qatar isn’t even a footballing nation! Aside from the inner reaches of the Arctic Circle or the summit of Everest there are few places less appropriate to host any football match let alone the greatest tournament in the sport. The decision had to be about money because there is no other sensible explanation.
I have always been absolutely livid that the interests of the fans are the last things that are ever considered by the football authorities. It is the fans who directly or indirectly fund the game and without them the sport would be confined to a kick about on the local park. They deserve a tournament that is practical and enjoyable to attend, which is open to all and that will showcase the best players performing at the highest level. So which bit of that makes a non-footballing dessert nation with extreme heat and an intolerance of homosexuality an appropriate venue? It will be too hot to play in the summer months, gays are not welcome and there is little else to entertain the visitors except a bit of shopping for boutique clothing and the latest gadgets. There will be no passionate host nation fans to light up the stadiums and it is a Muslim nation where drinking is frowned upon and women are second class citizens. Then there is the news that migrant workers at the construction sites are being abused.
The glaring issues were obvious and yet FIFA still went ahead and chose Qatar. Now we have the debate about whether the tournament should be moved to the winter. This is a ridiculous notion and quite laughable. The disruption to the game would be enormous and the World Cup could then conflict with the Winter Olympics.
The World Cup should not be staged in Qatar at any time of the year because there isn’t a single acceptable argument in favour of this nation hosting the tournament. Why should millions of passionate fans in serious footballing nations miss out on the chance see the World Cup in their countries so that this farce can play out in Qatar? It is time for all footballing authorities to put the fans first and I suggest that all supporters should vote with their feet and refuse to travel to Qatar. Unless football supporters start taking action nothing will ever change and the situation will only get worse.
I am calling on all fans to abstain from the World Cup in 2022. We have to make the authorities cater to the fans first. Qatar is not an isolated act of stupidity. There has been a long history of poor stadium choices and unfair ticketing policies and don’t get me started on changes to tournament formats. All these stupid decisions have been made in the interest of money and it is time that the fans had a voice. Sepp Blatter et al will only behave responsibly when they realise that the alternative is empty stadiums.
Article by Sally Stacey