Friday, January 2, 2009

Bad Ideas in Football Culture - World Cup Host Qatar

We've seen our share of wacky locations to hold the World Cup, and many also-rans. This one is no different, according to our friends at Reuters, Qatar is considering a Wolrd Cup bid. What will this do for the secondary economy that follows such large events? Is this something that can be taken seriously from a country that has given us a failed round of international trade talks? Qatar is claiming they have the physical infrastructure to host the cup, and what they don't have they can easily build I'm sure of it.

We have the stadiums and we have experience hosting top sports events. We don't want to rush into anything, we need to find out what the full requirements are, but we are interested.

Of course, the mid-east has cash - or had more cash before the fall in oil prices. They are desperate to show themselves in a different, pro-western light. But for every business opening in Dubai, there is a random cultural scandal.

The World Cup isn't just a juggernaut of moments of great football surrounded by days of poor passing, there is a large economic engine that surrounds it. From the open travel angle of the supporters, you also have the secondary economies of "entertainment". Food, Lodging, Alcohol, and for some not named Ronaldo, time spent between consenting adults is illegal. If any of you have been to a city during Super Bowl week can attest to the quality of "talent" that is brought into town. I'm betting the World Cup is not much different.

Qatar is one of these up and coming Muslim worlds, ala Dubai. They want to slide western, but they still hold the strict Muslim culture. They still like to randomly lock up folks - especially foreigners - for what we consider minor offense (public intoxication anyone?).

We're not here to bash other cultures - what people choose to do in their own country is their own choice, and I'm not one to generally mess in other people's affairs. But the World Cup has a larger agenda and a bigger picture to deal with. They need to find a country/countries that has the physical infrastructure - stadiums, lodging, transportation, security - for the teams, and their staff and fans. They also need to make sure the economic engine of the fans who travel, who bring the money to the host country to spend, will be able to spend it freely and easily.

I think South Africa has FIFA worried about a country making it happen and being successful, as they should well be. The host country process has undergone some changes in how they are being chosen, which is wise. However, when considering a host country, I can only hope that FIFA takes the extra-curricular activities of their fans and players into account. I'd hate to watch America lose in Group Stages, walk out into the street drunk and get thrown into some third world prison.


The Fan's Attic said...

at least S. Africa will have plenty of hookers.

Andrew said...

The infrastructure demands on any nation willing to host the WC are staggering. But the cultural/political clashes that occur during the WC between fans and host country are also quite important. Which is why I love this video:

Ten German Bombers . . .

Adam said...

I always used to play against Qatar in Fifa in like 94 because they were the easiest team to beat.