The Tragic Absurdity of Qatar’s World Cup Sportswashing

Were there not so much suffering involved, the Qatar 2022 World Cup would be an absurdist parody of sportswashing. The extraordinarily popular event is meant to put a happy gloss on both the brutal kingdom of Qatar and soccer’s governing body—that infamous organization of finely tuned corruption: FIFA.

Normally, the men’s World Cup would be kicking off this month, but FIFA honchos changed the World Cup schedule to accommodate the fact that Qatar is scorching in the summer, with temperatures in Doha regularly reaching 109 degrees Fahrenheit (43 Celsius). When they bid for the Cup, Qatar boasted of hosting it over the summer with state-of-the-art indoor air-conditioned stadium, but that proved to be a lie. Instead, FIFA moved the tournament to November and December, and in the process wreaked havoc on the calendars of domestic soccer leagues around the globe. The fact that the most powerful leagues in the world were willing to reshuffle their plans to accommodate FIFA and their Qatari collaborators is a monument to the brass-knuckle financial power of the men’s World Cup. The 2018 World Cup in Russia raked in $5.36 billion in revenues on the road to more than $3.5 billion in profit. FIFA expects similar profits from the spectacle in Qatar.

For nearly a decade, journalists have been trumpet allegations that FIFA would never have selected Qatar were it not for brazen bribery. The US Department of Justice has indicated numerous FIFA officials on a range of crimes including racketeering, wire fraud, and money laundering, some of these charges related to the Qatari bid. investigators assert that Qatar forked over at least $1 million—and perhaps as much as $15 million—to three soccer officials from South America for their votes. Many more voting members of FIFA have been implicated in various bribery schemes.

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