Almost exactly two weeks ago, live from Zurich, FIFA announced the host countries for the 2018 and 2022 World Cups. These announcements came after impressive presentations made by each of the bidding teams:
Russia 2018’s Ready to Inspire campaign’s central selling point was that they, of all the different parties, had the most to offer the world: “I have given a lot of presentations recently, but never one as important as this. Important to so many people and for all the right reasons,” opened Alexey Sorokin, CEO of Russia’s 2018 Bid Committee, “We can show you what you cannot find in our bid books, we can show you what‘s in our hearts…This morning we have just 30 minutes to share with you the collective passion and pride of 145 million Russians who would like nothing more than to welcome the Fifa World Cup to our home for the first time in history. History, and the making of it, is a powerful theme in our bid…Our bid and our vision is about opportunity for Russia and opportunity for Fifa—for Russia, these opportunities are clear. For Fifa, these opportunities include new markets, new stadiums, new players and fans, and an assurance of an impeccably hosted tournament…”
It was clear from early on in their presentation that Russia was bringing some of their biggest guns to bear in this bid as some of their most culturally relevant stars were present, including a vital Andrey Arshavin—their national team captain—Yelena Isinbayeva, a two-time Olympic gold medalist pole vaulter, opera stars, etc. Isinbayeva’s delivery in her speech, in my opinion, was very weak, but her message of how much Fifa has positively empowered female athletes, and how the organization can continue to make a difference here, must have rang true to the decision makers.
Their first video featured a young soccer player dreaming of playing in the World Cup while the audio boomed an inspiring, “Russia Never Sleeps!” frequently throughout the duration of the promo.
Their technical video, The Jewels of Russia, was hosted and narrated by a stunning woman whose identity, despite some Googling, leaves her nameless for now.
“It is true that if awarded the 2018 World Cup, Russia has much to do, but the reality is that most of the infrastructure development is already planned and budgeted for and the World Cup will just accelerate this development,” said Alexey as he went on to outline the four cluster plan they have for their stadiums, centrally planned around the Russian capital of Moscow. Their plans for accommodating the inevitably huge surge in fans are impressive and those with match tickets were guaranteed free inter-country transportation between the 13 hosting cities.
Why should Russia be chosen to host the 2018 World Cup? (according to their Deputy Prime Minister).
- Would bridge the east and the west.
- Russia represents a huge region of the world which has never hosted the World Cup, whereas Western Europe has hosted numerous times.
- An opportunity to overcome the negative stereotpyes Russia faces.
- Inspire the youth of Russia and promote gender equality.
- Promote social and economic development on a global scale.
- Will open the nation to the entire world.
- Politically a very stable country.
- Have the financial resources to follow through on all their guarantees.
- Will be a better partner than Fifa has ever had in hosting the World Cup.
- “Let us make history together!”
Welcome to Russia, fellow futbol fans! Let’s make the best of it.
Needless to say, there remains much anger and dissent amongst those in support of England’s failing bid as they have not hosted the World Cup in 44 years despite how it is where soccer, as we know it today, was “invented.”
2022 World Cup Host: Qatar
Well it looks like for once the United States was, in the end, defeated by the Middle East despite the best efforts of Bill Clinton, Morgan Freeman, Landon Donovan, and Attorney General Eric Holder (not to mention a video appearance by Obama).
The US was thought to be the favorites and performed well with a strong bid, but perhaps it was one of their main selling points which backfired on them? Yes, we are the most diverse country in the world, there’s nothing negative to be said about that. We also would not have required any significant changes to our infrastructure to host the cup, but perhaps this was not looked upon favorably? Wherever the World Cup goes, it is believed that progress, construction, and an economic surge will follow. Could this have been one of the factors leading into the committees’ selection of Qatar? Probably not, but it’s a thought.
Unsurprisingly, Qatar was listed among the “12 More Countries You’ve Never Heard of And The People That Live There,” post on Smosh.com. The website’s rich and informative description of the country tells us all we need to know about Qatar:
“Qatar is owned by one really rich Arab dude that likes to stage bicycle races every day for his personal amusement.”
Well that about sums the country up, but just for you nerds who aren’t satisfied with that flash of brilliance, here’s a little more insight into the State of Qatar. According to several different web sources, Qatar is a Constitutional Monarchy where the Emir (Chief of State) Amir Hamad bin Khalifa Al-Thani holds the power to name prime ministers and such though the title/rank of emir is hereditary. There’s a messy but interesting history here where they used to be a British protectorate state and how they battled Saudi Arabia and played a role in the 1991 Persian Gulf War, but I won’t go into all of that, but promise me you’ll get around to it before 2022.
But to be clear, Qatar is a much more progressive country than many would think. Many would wrongly assume that because of how the country’s legal system is based on a combination of Islamic and civil law codes, that the country would be rife with inequality between genders and that there would be severe government censorship, when this is not the case. Yes, the television and radio broadcast media are state controlled, but around 1999, the emir lifted press censorship, took steps towards instituting democratic elections, and pushed for woman’s suffrage. It’s 2005 constitution guarantees freedom of expression, assembly, and religion with 30 of the seats within their 45-seat parliament will be decided upon democratically.
This is not to say, however, that Qatar is not without its problems. In fact, I expect that many organizations will rise to oppose this decision—if they haven’t already—due to reports of trafficking and sexual abuse. The country is said to have taken significant steps to tackle this issue, and hopefully the looming date of the cup will speed up the process.
One interesting aspect of all of this is how the expected numbers of fans expected to flood the country’s gates in 2022 will far exceed the entirety of the state’s population of less than 850,000 people. This will surely be interesting to see.
Did you know that Qatar’s team has never even qualified for the World Cup? Well, don’t worry, because the hosting country is guaranteed a slot. Perhaps they will join forces with South Africa to become the second hosting nation to never make it past the first round of the tournament? But I hope this isn’t the case. In my opinion, the World Cup is always a more pleasant experience for everyone when the hosting team fares decently in the grand scheme of things. I remember how watching South Africa get knocked out of the most recent cup was kind of a buzzkill for most people.
What excites me most is the new technology Qatar unveiled in their bid. The stadiums to be built for the cup will mostly be powered by sunlight! Not to mention the climate-control systems they will use to keep the stadiums at decent temperatures despite the blistering heat that is sure to pester the unfortunates not within the structures. But those without the stadium won’t be without their benefits either. To see what I’m talking about, go through the below pictures and then watch the video:
To my surprise, I found many reports online asserting that despite the billions of dollars of corporate sponsorship and additional monetary wealth expected to be brought to the region which is hosting the event, that they can overall be expected to lose billions. Despite these reports, I can’t wait to see what the future holds for Russia, Qatar, and the rest of the world in the years to come.
“You will be proud of us, you will be proud of the Middle East, and I promise you this,” said one of the delegates from Qatar.