World Cup winners (sort of): Sheikh Hamad bin Khalifa Al-Thani, Emir of Qatar, holds the World Cup trophy aloft after today’s announcement that Qatar will host the 2022 World Cup, beating out four other nations including the U.S. (AP Photos).
England lost out to the ruble-packing Russians.
And the petro-dollar fueled Middle Eastern nation of Qatar beat out the U.S. for the 2022 World Cup.
Hmmm, see a common thread here?
Here’s more from the Associated Press:
ZURICH (AP) — Qatar was selected as host of the 2022 World Cup, beating out a bid by the United States to bring soccer’s showcase back to America for the first time since 1994.
FIFA’s executive committee choose Qatar — a nation smaller than Connecticut, which has promised to overcome 130-degree heat with air conditioned stadiums — over the U.S., Australia, Japan and South Korea in a secret vote Thursday.
Minutes earlier, Russia was announced as host of the 2018 tournament. It was chosen over England and joint bids by Spain-Portugal and Netherlands-Belgium.
“We go to new lands,” FIFA president Sepp Blatter said.
From World Cup princes to paupers: Even the star power of the Galaxy’s David Beckham and the center forward from Buckingham Palace FC, Prince William, couldn’t save the English bid.
Following corruption allegations that led to two of 24 FIFA executive committee members being excluded from the vote, the decision to go to the Middle East in 2022 was bound to be controversial even before it was made. It also will cause American sports executives to question what they have do to host another international event.
Qatar promised to spend $50 billion on infrastructure upgrades and $4 billion to build
nine stadiums and renovate three others. One advantage of the having the tournament in a small country: The stadiums will all be within an hour of each other.
“Basically, oil and natural gas won today. This was not about merit, this was about money,” former U.S. national team star Eric Wynalda said in a telephone interview with The Associated Press. Qatar “is a country that is really going to struggle to host this event. A successful World Cup would mean the attendance would be twice the population.”
Qataris and others — including workers from south Asia — immediately started dancing in the streets along Doha’s Gulf waterfront. Some blew the vuvuzelas that became synonymous with the World Cup in South Africa.
FIFA’s inspection report highlighted a danger posted by heat — the average high in late June is 106 degrees. Qatar said the World Cup thrived despite heat during tournaments in Mexico in 1970 and 1986, and the U.S. in 1994.
Qatar, with a population smaller than that of Houston, used its 30-minute presentation to
underline how the tournament could unify a region ravaged by conflict. Presenters also
promised to dismantle the stadiums built for the tournament and give them to needy
“On behalf of millions of people living in the Middle East, thank you,” Qatar bid chair Sheikh Mohammad bin Hamad Al-Thani said. “Thank you for believing in us, thank you for having such bold vision. … Thank you also for acknowledging this is the right time for the Middle East. We have a date with history which is summer 2022.”
It was the second international loss in the year for the U.S., which was led by former
President Bill Clinton during its final presentation Wednesday. Last year, the nternational Olympic Committee chose Rio de Janeiro over Chicago and others for the 2016 Olympics despite a personal lobbying effort by President Barack Obama.
Born slippy: A metaphor for the ill-fated U.S. and England World Cup bids sits outside the FIFA HQ in snowy Zurich.
Brazil was selected as the 2014 host in October 2007, and FIFA began accepting bids for the following two tournaments in early 2009.
The World Cup was played in the United States for the first time in 1994, setting a record with 3.58 million tickets sold, and the U.S. Soccer Federation had hoped a second World Cup in America would boost soccer’s slow but steady growth and give a big lift to Major League Soccer.
Now the U.S. will have to wait until at least 2026, when it may have to compete with bids from Europe, soccer’s financial base.
By selecting Qatar, FIFA precluded a 2026 bid from China, since the same continent cannot host consecutive World Cups.
The 2018 vote was especially crushing for England, the motherland of soccer, which has not hosted the World Cup since winning it for the only time in 1966.
“You will never regret” the decision, Russian Deputy Prime Minister Igor Shuvalov said. “Let us make history together.”
Anguish in LA: Soccer fans at the ESPN Zone at LA Live downtown react to the news the World Cup won’t be coming to the U.S. for at least 16 years (AFP/Getty Images).