Staff Opinion: What’s wrong with the World Cup

By Danny Politoski | April 3, 2018 9:03am

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by Molly Lowney / The Beacon

The World Cup begins in less than 80 days and I could not be more conflicted about it. The World Cup is my favorite sporting event, and after almost four years of waiting since the last World Cup in 2014, it is finally almost here. 

I started to get into the World Cup in 2010 when it was held in South Africa. I was 11 years old, and I vividly remember waking up at 8 a.m. to watch the U.S. play Algeria. I woke up my sisters with cheering and yelling when Landon Donovan scored in stoppage time to win the game. 

This year is a little different though. The World Cup will be held in Russia this year, which prompts the question of, why Russia? Countries go through a bid process years in advance of a World Cup, and FIFA, the organization that runs the tournament, awards a country with the opportunity to host the World Cup. 

France, Holland, England, Spain, Portugal and Belgium all submitted bids to host the 2018 World Cup, yet FIFA chose Russia. What is even more surprising is that Qatar was chosen to host the 2022 World Cup, beating out the U.S., South Korea, Australia and Japan. June temperatures in Qatar can reach 120 degrees, so the World Cup will be in November in 2022. So why was this country where the World Cup can hardly be physically played chosen for the World Cup? Well, because FIFA, that’s why. 

You may have heard of FIFA, but if you are not familiar with it, think of it like the death eaters, and for many years they were led by Lord Voldemort himself, Sepp Blatter. For just a taste of the kind of human being Sepp Blatter is, he once suggested that women’s soccer boost viewership by wearing shorter shorts. 

Just by looking at their executive board room you can tell these guys are bad news. FIFA is the governing body for soccer, and is supposed to be a nonprofit, yet in 2015, an FBI investigation into the organization found that FIFA officials took millions of dollars in bribes from Russia and Qatar officials to host the World Cup. The investigation led to the toppling of Sepp Blatter’s regime, as well as several other FIFA officials, but sadly, nothing changed about the 2022 World Cup. Blatter was banned from soccer for six years, but will be attending the 2018 World Cup after receiving an invite from President Vladimir Putin himself. Hey, evil guys have to stick together, right?

It would have made a lot more sense to host the 2022 World Cup in the US, since we already have a variety of top stadiums to choose from while Qatar is building nine new stadiums and renovating three to host the tournament. Due to scorching heat and poor working conditions, at least 1200 workers have already died in the construction of the stadiums. The next highest death toll from construction projects for sporting events around the world was 60 from the Sochi Olympics in 2014. 

In case you missed it, the United States failed to qualify for the 2018 World Cup in astonishing fashion as they lost to Trinidad and Tobago this last October. That was a bit of a wake-up call for U.S. soccer, but it could mark the beginning of a new era for soccer in the states. This has more to do with the U.S. men’s soccer program failing rather than FIFA’s evilness, but I couldn’t write about the World Cup without being painfully reminded of this. 

The World Cup is my favorite tournament in my favorite sport, and I’d really like to see FIFA stop ruining it. The 2026 World Cup host will be chosen on June 13, 2018, and there are only two bids – a joint bid between Canada, the U.S. and Mexico, and a seperate bid from Morocco. I hope and pray Morocco doesn’t get the bid because I fear that we would see unnecessary lives lost in construction of so many new stadiums. Also, I’d really like to not have to wake up at 7 a.m. to watch games for the next three World Cups.

Amidst all this corruption, I am still so incredibly excited for the World Cup, which is probably why FIFA has been able to act so corruptly for so many years – because millions of other people like me will continue to watch the World Cup no matter what. 

Danny Politoski is a freshman Environmental Science and Economics major. He can be reached at politosk21@up.edu.

Danny Politoski is a news reporter for The Beacon. He can be reached at politoski21@up.edu or on Twitter at @dpolitoski
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