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FIFA’s farcical World Cup bidding process just gets more ridiculous

On Soccer

Having made a mind-boggling shambles of the selection process for the 2018 and 2022 World Cup tournaments, Joseph Blatter and his cronies at FIFA are considering another monumentally stupid idea.

They want the 2022 event to be played during the European winter — specifically, in January or February — so that it avoids the appalling heat and humidity of Qatar in June and July, the months in which the tournament has been played for the last 80 years.

Never mind, of course, that FIFA’s numskull executive committee completely ignored the heat factor when selecting Qatar to be the host 12 years from now. Air-conditioned stadia, committee members chose to believe, would solve the problem.

Never mind that the entire bid was based on a World Cup played in the European summer. None of Qatar’s four rivals — Australia, Japan, South Korea and the U.S. — was given the option of a time change.

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Never mind that this is a case of altering the ground rules after the fact. FIFA does what FIFA wants, and right now FIFA wants to throw the entire international soccer calendar into disarray in 2021-2022, disrupting leagues and competitions around the globe.

It would also throw the 2020-21 season out of kilter because the FIFA Confederations Cup, also in Qatar, presumably also would be moved to January or February.

Not only that, FIFA is also entertaining the idea of spreading the 2022 tournament beyond Qatar’s minuscule borders and having games played in neighboring countries as well.

The entire thing would be farcical if it were not so sadly true.

One of America’s most well-regarded soccer columnists, Paul Gardner, had the right idea when suggesting recently that it is high time FIFA was marginalized by having its leading nations threaten to pull out of the organization, just as the English Premier League clubs broke away from the rest.

“If as few as half a dozen — but it would probably need twice that many — of the world’s top soccer nations told FIFA to go to hell, that they were defecting to form their own super-FIFA, and would run their own World Cup, FIFA would find that its very lucrative cash cow, the World Cup, was suddenly not worth all that much,” Gardner wrote in Soccer America.

As matters stand, what with all the allegations of bribery, corruption, match-fixing and the like, the collapse of FIFA would not be a bad thing.

It won’t happen, of course, but it’s a pleasant daydream in light of all the nonsense spewing forth from Blatter and his ilk.

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Not having the guts to make the proposal for a winter World Cup himself, Blatter, FIFA’s 74-year-old president, sent out some stalking horses to do the job instead.

First it was his old pal, Germany’s Franz Beckenbauer, who broached the tricky matter, saying barely 48 hours after the Dec. 2 vote to give Qatar the World Cup that air conditioning was not the answer.

“One should think about another solution,” Beckenbauer said. “In January and February you have comfortable 25 [77 Fahrenheit] degrees there.”

Then it was France’s Michel Platini, the president of UEFA, European soccer’s governing body, and, like Beckenbauer, a FIFA executive committee member, who backed the idea.

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“Football in the Gulf in January, that would be easier than June,” Platini said. “Why not? It’s possible. Many things would have to be changed in the calendar. Would we [Europe] have February off and restart the season in March?”

With Europe seemingly on board, Asia chipped in its two cents’ worth when Peter Velappan, the retired former general secretary of the Asian Football Confederation, added his support.

Finally, on Friday in the now very friendly confines of Abu Dhabi in the United Arab Emirates, Blatter spoke up.

Despite having had seven decades to learn English, he was his usual nonsensical and ungrammatical self.

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“I definitely support to play in winter here” in the Middle East, Blatter said. “To play when the climate is appropriate, and I’m think about the footballers, not only the fans but the actors.

“The actors giving the spectacle, this is very important to protect the footballers and if this is possible, but it should be possible with the will, where there’s a will there’s a way.

“It’s a question of the international calendar, but again it’s 11 1/2 years till this can be done.”

What absolute nonsense.

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As for spreading the tournament beyond Qatar, Blatter already has proposed doing so. In an interview with L’Equipe in France, he said it was possible “that some matches could take place in nearby countries.”

Blatter did not identify which countries, but here’s a suggestion: If FIFA is really all about leaving a legacy and making a difference and not all about stroking the egos and lining the pockets of its executive committee members, there’s one Middle Eastern country Qatar can offer a share of its World Cup.

How about Israel?

grahame.jones@latimes.com


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