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While this world championship is unlike any other because of the start time and location in the Middle East, a new world competition comes to mind. Think about it. Climate unsuitable for hosting the event, random accommodations, stories of government incursion and sportswear. That sounds like the Winter Olympics in Beijing.
These games were overwhelmed with storylines that did not involve the competitors. From isolated athletes crying in their glorified dormitories on Instagram to surreal ski conditions and everything Russia was doing, it just wasn’t exactly fun to watch. Athletes in niche sports that only garner attention every four years smiled through the ceremonies and missteps, leaving audiences genuinely wondering if it was all necessary.
The toll events like the World Cup and Olympics that host countries have to bear have outweighed the benefits for some time. The Los Angelinos are actively protesting the 2028 Summer Games with the slogan “NOlympics”. There was the farce of the Sochi Winter Olympics and the story that Russia rounded up and executed stray dogs before the event. The impact of Rio de Janeiro hosting the 2014 World Cup and 2016 Summer Games is well documented.
From the moment Qatar won the bid, scandals ensued. There was the allegedly corrupt process, the deaths of migrant workers and the restructuring of the club’s calendar to play games in the months without a heatwave. Players haven’t even taken the field yet, and the list of missing big names seems to be as long as the list of healthy superstars, country officials advise LGBTQ fans to be careful when displaying Pride flags, David Beckham became his gay card stripped because he was a paid Qatari propagandist, media officials are told they can’t do their job, there are late bans on beer sales in stadiums and even rumors of a match-fixing scandal involving the host country. (FIFA is working with Sportsradar to identify suspects, according to Front Office Sports.)
However, it’s hard not to get excited after reading a few group previews and anticipating the morning sounds of football for weeks to come.
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This is where the World Cup differs from the Olympic Games. Soccer is the most popular sport on the planet. Familiar faces can cement legacies, and young players can storm onto the stage with the subtlety of the Kool-Aid Man. It’s impossible to look at Diego Forlan, Benjamin Pavard and James Rodriguez and not think of miracle World Cup goals after they put on exquisite, unforgettable shows.
The influence of international football on a country’s self-confidence and pride is also great. A blast hitting the back of the net sets off watch parties as if the New Year Ball has reached the end of its fall. scenes. All are absolute scenes.
Football’s ability to make its fans happy is uncanny. And that’s why it was so valuable for a place like Qatar to put on. We all know those people in high school or college who would throw parties with the sole purpose of getting people to like them because they sucked as people.
It’s not a very subtle or ingenious tactic. I think the exact description would be pathetic. Qatar had FIFA use them to throw a party and guess what, nobody stays to help with the cleanup. Most likely, all guests will forget the generosity the second they leave, if they were ever grateful for it.
I would like to convey this to our not so gracious hosts. No matter how fun it is, people aren’t going to say, ‘You know what the highlight of my World Cup was? The country. I mean how fun did Qatar look? I can’t wait to see it for myself.”
It’s not pleasant to stew over how complicit we are in this charade. We’d rather think of something else, fret that teams don’t protest with the zeal we would prefer, or write self-righteous columns championing the gospel of the riot police.
However, I will be watching and cheering on the USMNT, my favorite players, for the beautiful game at its most passionate – and causing Qatar as much embarrassment as possible without hurting anyone else.
The people best placed to make this bewildering display of hospitality worse are the ones responsible, and so far they’re doing it pretty well.