Is the Qatar 2022 World Cup doomed to fail?
What is immediately apparent is the overbearing negativity of asking whether the Qatar 2022 World Cup is doomed to fail. To justify this line from the outset, I think it is crucial to consider the organization we are dealing with.
When it comes to anything FIFA related, trust and optimism is built from the ground up and by no means pre-existing. FIFA does little to earn trust, hence the initial skepticism.
Regardless of the true inner workings Fédération Internationale de Football Association, their reputation precedes them in an entirely terrible sense.
Sepp Blatter portrays the lead villain remarkably well and his leadership sets the tone for the way the entire organization is run.
Blatter is the man who remarked in 2004 that for women's soccer to appeal to a wider audience "they could, for example, have tighter shorts." That's just his example that he is happy to share. Clearly an entirely appropriate figurehead for the sport as a whole, the fact that he has been re-elected as President in 2002, 2007 and in 2011 speaks volumes about the organization.
In terms of Qatar 2022 specifically, the million dollar question surrounds the legitimacy of the award of the World Cup to a country where conditions are too hot, workers are exploited and discrimination is a very real issue. Unfortunately one million dollars won't be enough to get the answers we want. Really, a figure of around $5 million, the valuation of a corruption claim surrounding the bid, seems more likely to gain the attention of FIFA officials.
In spite of these issues, which without a doubt warrant their own discussion, we will be assessing the Qatar World Cup on soccer matters, as ultimately the sporting façade that is presented to us in 2022 will define its success.
The baton is now in the hands of the Qatar government, and I am cautiously optimistic for what they can achieve.
Timing of the tournament
This is the issue that is shot to prominence in recent weeks and I have a lot of respect for the nature of the discussion. There is a real sense of urgency that is pervading through the variety of opinions on the table, where delaying the decision with seven years still to go would be the easy option.
What is evident is how delicate an issue the timing of the tournament is and the ramifications that will come with the different decisions. A winter World Cup is an unknown quantity and while there are fears that interrupting domestic leagues might set a dangerous precedent, conditions in Qatar clearly warrant these extenuating circumstances.
Blatter has announced that the World Cup would not go on past December 18, clearly an attempt to appease the voices that are adamant that impeding upon the festive schedule of European leagues in particular would be a disaster.
Personally, I think that the collective ego of leagues in Europe, like the English Premier League, is obstructing what is a plain and obvious decision to make.
The Premier League will have to pause for the World Cup in Qatar and rightly so. The World Cup is the greatest sporting spectacle in the world alongside the Olympics and therefore warrants priority.
Positioning the World Cup in the middle of domestic campaigns, from a fans perspective, is actually quite enticing. Players ought to be fresh and we will know exactly who the hottest players are heading into the tournament. They won't be jaded after a long season and should be as match sharp as possible.
Example schedule for 2022 Qatar World Cup:
Early November: English Premier League pauses
26 November: World Cup begins
Early December: Group Stages finish, half the players return to clubs
Through December: More players return home after knockout stage exit
Sunday, 18 December: World Cup Final
Monday, 26 December: Premier League returns on Boxing Day
Weather and conditions
The conditions, as already alluded to, present a multitude of things to consider when asking whether the World Cup will be a success.
For the players, even if the tournament is scheduled for the winter, temperatures will be testing. Averages for November and December come in at about 77 degrees, which shouldn't be high enough to impact the quality of soccer on show.
Ahead of the World Cup in Brazil last year there were concerns expressed about the heat and humidity, with drinks breaks introduced in particularly troublesome locations, but the worries were shown to be mostly unfounded as the soccer did not suffer and neither did the fans.
The comfort and safety of the fans must be a priority for the Qatar government and their level of enjoyment will be quickly relayed to the world watching on.
Keep the fans happy and, at least superficially, half the job is already done.
For many fans traveling to Asia it will be their first taste of an entirely new region and for this reason you can be sure Qatar will be out to impress.
Stadium and infrastructure
The setting for the World Cup can make our break its success and for many Qatar is a relatively unknown quantity. The 2014 World Cup just gone had the groundwork established before the stadiums were even built. Brazil is a country that lives and breathes soccer and the atmosphere was always going to be phenomenal.
Qatar doesn't have the same luxury of being a nation steeped in soccer history.
It is currently positioned at a lowly 109 in the FIFA Rankings and isn't renowned for its love of the beautiful game. Even when the World Cup stopped in South Africa in 2010, the passion for soccer was more obvious.
If there is to be a feeling of Soccer tradition in 2022 in Qatar, it will have had to be cleverly manufactured. Nine of the twelve stadiums to be used at the World Cup are in the early stages of construction, which alone evidences the progress that needs to be made.
The design of the stadiums look incredible and will certainly provide a fitting platform for the world's best players. The cooling technology set to be incorporated into the venues shows again the acute awareness of how important fans are to the success of the World Cup.
Qatar in many respects are a country that epitomize the saying of 'no expense spared.' You can be sure that they will go to great lengths to ensure a memorable spectacle and many of their ideas, at least on paper, ought to create a truly special atmosphere. It will be different, but different doesn't always equate to disaster.
In 2022, Lionel Messi will be 34 and Cristiano Ronaldo, unthinkably, will be 37 years old. It is impossible to predict the landscape of the sport seven years into the future and who is to say the two stand out stars of this generation won't be continuing to set the world alight as they approach the end of the careers.
In all likelihood a few of the promising youngsters that are gracing the game today will emerge as the stars to watch in Qatar. A player like Neymar will be 30 and will represent one of the more experienced heads in the Brazil national team. It's exciting to consider whether he will still be the Brazilian poster boy or will a new talent compete for the spotlight.
The growing prowess of the USA side has been a fantastic journey to follow over the last decade and they will no doubt be target the upcoming couple of World Cups as the stage for them to truly burst onto the world scene. With a promising set of youngsters entering the squad, who knows what they will be capable of at their peak.
Looking to the FIFA Under-20 World Cup for a glimpse into the future, France were victorious in 2013 and look to have a strong generation coming through. Iraq also warrant a mention, finishing fourth and showing the direction in which Asian soccer can go.
Qatar as the home team
The storyline of Brazil at their home tournament in 2014 was as enthralling as a blockbuster movie, with all the twists and turns of a well written novel. It not only gripped a nation, it had the world watching and holding their breath game upon game.
Qatar, as we have already mentioned, are nowhere near the pedigree of Brazil. Whilst they may not lose 7-1 to Germany, their place in the soccer world is obscure to say the least. Unless they spring an unlikely qualification run for the 2018 World Cup in Russia, they will be making their Finals debut in 2022.
Seven years is much too close to properly transform a nation ranked 109 into world beaters and they will be favorites to finish bottom of their group no matter which other nations are drawn alongside them. Whilst it may seem like I am describing the beginnings of the greatest underdog story since Dodgeball, the intrigue of how the home nation will fare at their own World Cup will be lacking in Qatar.
Reasons to be positive
There are so many stories surrounding the 2022 World Cup that it is hard to believe we are still seven years away from it becoming a reality. With what seems to be a continual stream of media storms, FIFA controversy and general confusion, Qatar really are up against it.
It is the fickle nature of sport that defines my outlook on the 2022 World Cup.
What plays out on the pitch will draw all the focus, as it has a knack of doing. A memorable tournament will, rightly or wrongly, see the controversies consigned to history and only a lackluster affair will draw the microscope back onto FIFA.
In 2010, Sepp Blatter expressed the sentiment that "the Arabic world deserves a World Cup." It is hard not agree that spreading the World Cup to every corner of the globe can only be a positive, although whether it has come too soon for Qatar, only time will tell.
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