He said: “For 2018 and 2022 we go to new lands, because the FIFA World Cup has never been in Eastern Europe or the Middle East.” He, FIFA President Joseph “Sepp” Blatter, might now be the most hated personality in England, Holland, Korea, Spain, and other bidding nations, but he wanted to end his reign on a high note somewhere else in the world. He wanted to be remembered as the President who brought the World Cup to Asia, Middle East, Africa, Eastern Europe, because he believes this is the legacy that will remain amongst whatever he tried to do. He planned his reign to serve Football as he claims, but he will not be the man who spread Football in the world because Football, as he said, started ages ago in China before he was even born.
He is not the subject of the post, but he is who provoked it. He is too powerful that he was the biggest winner when the FIFA Executive Committee chose Russia to host the 2018 FIFA World Cup and Qatar to host the 2022 FIFA World Cup. What did he win? Why did he win? What did other countries lose? What did the hosts win? What is the real win for Football? I might not be the person to answer all of that, and if I wanted to I would need a hundred and ten posts to cover all the aspects, but still I need to share some observations on what happened.
I had my money on England for 2018 and Qatar for 2022 and it was a 50% ego boost by the time the results were announced. I didn’t want to believe that the 2018 bid would be lost by the English the day the BBC Panorama documentary attacked the FIFA officials, but apparently that documentary did some damage. Reports say that England was out of the race from the first round of voting; what a shame. However looking into the facts, and there are few or maybe none, I can fully understand that Abramovich’s presence and money are stronger than Putin and Arshavin is still playing when Beckham is nothing but a Top Model. I may also accept that no one was in favor of having a joint bid like Spain and Portugal’s but I have to admit that the Russians were watching closely and used the same KO pitch of the Qataris and showed the world, in one simple slide, why Russia has to host the Cup. I personally wasn’t impressed with the English presentation.
Moving on to the 2022 incidents, away from all the jokes about the Arab money and the power of oil fields, there was one person who brought the cup to Qatar; Sheikha Moza bint Nasser Al-Missned. Sheikha Moza captured my whole senses with her speech and presentation. She started off saying: “When, when do you think is the right time for this to come to the Middle East?” and she pointed at the World Cup trophy. She continued saying: “The time has come, the time is NOW.” Powerful words, spellbinding speech, great confidence, and a slide showing the distribution of the World Cup hosting countries away from the Middle East region, have contributed solely, form an objective point of view, in winning the bid. Even the Russians captured that slide and used it in their winning presentation.
Sheikh Hamad bin Khalifa Al-Thani and his wife Sheikha Moza bint Nasser Al-Missned after the announcement
Soon, and maybe just after publishing this post, I will have doubters of what I am feeling and talking about. I know there are many facts that contributed in every nation’s chances, but I will not dig behind all of them. I don’t want to go into politics and say Qatar won so China will be denied the chances of even bidding for the 2026 World Cup. I don’t want to mention that the 1994 World Cup in the USA failed to push the game forward in that part of the world. I cannot say that experimenting in a new Continent was a success story in 2010. I refuse to acknowledge the power of what two nations managed to produce in 2002. I need to believe that 2022 was won because a country will be rebuilt.
Sepp Blatter, you won. There is no one better to acknowledge this fact but Sheikh Mohammed bin Hamad Al-Thani, Chairman of Qatar 2022 Bid Committee, when he stated and directly addressed you saying: “Thank you for believing in change. Thank you for believing In expanding the game. Thank you for giving Qatar a chance. And we will not let you down. And you will be proud of us, you will be proud of the Middle East. And I promise you this.”