Ex-FIFA President Sepp Blatter is tipping the US to host the 2022 World Cup should Qatar be stripped of the honors due to Corruption allegations. Speaking to German publication Sport Bild, Blatter shortlisted the US alongside Germany and Japan as other potential hosts.
As things stand, Qatar is on course to host the World Cup in December 2022, the first time the event won’t take place between June and July. But unfortunately for the gulf nation, fresh bribery accusations from the US Department of Justice might jeopardize its plans to host the competition.
“US the best candidate”
Instead, FIFA could be forced to select another host, and the US is the best candidate according to Blatter.
“The United States could do it instead of 2026,” Blatter recently said. “They are capable, it’s not rocket science!
The US is scheduled to co-host the 2026 World Cup alongside Mexico and Canada when the tournament will be expanded to 48 teams instead of 32 for the first time. However, Blatter thinks the US should be picked for the 2022 event since it’s a better candidate than all other choices.
“Germany could do it,” the Swiss national said. But it would mean the World Cup being hosted in Europe again after 2018. Europe therefore would not be first choice.”
So far, FIFA has no plans to change the 2022 World Cup location from Qatar. The last time it made such a decision was in 1986, shifting that year’s event from Colombia to Mexico. The reason back then was that Colombia opted not to host the competition due to economic challenges.
Qatar is accused of multiple ethical and human rights violations. First among them is that it bribed several former FIFA officials to get their votes. Then there’s the issue of poor working conditions and over 34 deaths by workers constructing its stadiums.
The US Department of Justice has plans to investigate both Russian and Qatar officials involved in bribery charges. In fact, it made its first indictments earlier this month and accused former Brazilian football executive Ricardo Teixeira and former COMNEBOL president Nicolas Leoz of accepting bribes to vote for Qatar.
Amid the fresh investigations, some critics believe FIFA could be forced to select a new host for the 2022 World Cup. However, others are pointing out that there’s a myriad of roadblocks along the way.
- The time factor
The next World Cup is two years away from happening. That means any decision to change its location would have to be made as soon as possible. But amid sports cancelations and travel bans worldwide, FIFA might not hold a meeting until later in the year.
If FIFA officials won’t have made a decision to switch the host nation by early 2021, it will be logistically impossible to select a new host. That’s why Blatter is choosing the US to host the event now that there’s enough preparation time.
- Infrastructural challenges
Qatar has been building World Cup Stadiums for over six years and it’s still not ready. So, should FIFA pick another host, it will have to select a country with certified infrastructures.
Fortunately, the US, many European countries, Japan, South Africa Brazil and even China has the infrastructure needed to host the event. Based on Blatter’s suggestions, the US comes out on top when it comes to infrastructures.
- Political environment
Often overlooked, FIFA has always prioritized countries that have stable governments, nationwide peace and the goodwill to host its events. That means lots of countries with an interest in hosting the event but have peace issues are officially out of the race.
In making a case for the US, soccer officials have always had an interest in hosting the 2022 World for years. In fact, the opted out of the 2018 race to concentrate on the upcoming event. They didn’t succeed but got the go ahead to host the 2026 competition. So, for the time being, we can´t be sure if US soccer bettors will play at home.
- Financial challenges
Many countries that have hosted the World Cup in the past spent billions of dollars in preparations. Against that backdrop, FIFA might have to settle for a country that’s financially capable and willing to host the event.
On the Brightside, many countries would jump at the opportunity of hosting the World Cup. Unfortunately, the present state of things will leave many countries fighting to improve their economic wellbeing. That means countries that would traditionally want to host the World Cup might hesitate to grab the opportunity.
- Who hosts the 2026 World Cup?
As mentioned, the US will cooperate with Mexico, and Canada to host the first World Cup involving 48 teams. But should FIFA take Blatter’s advice and award it the honors to host the 2022 event, a new challenge will arise.
The US can’t host two World Cups consecutively. Worse, it will be logistically challenging for Canada to organize the 2026 competition with Mexico sans the US. With that in mind, FIFA might need to find new countries to host the 2026 competitions in other parts of the world.
For starters, Blatter isn’t in charge of FIFA anymore. He stepped down in 2015 after multiple accusations of corruption and breaking ethical violations. He was also implicated in the Qatar and Russian bribery scandal. And as a result, FIFA suspended him from all football activities for six years.
Swiss officials went a step ahead to investigate Blatter for any wrongdoings. Lucky for him, his investigation ended early this year with no intention of suing him. However, he also faces a second case in which he’s accused of bribing ex-UEFA president Michel Platini €1.8 million.
That said, the man in charge of making major football decisions is Gianni Infantino, the federation’s present president. And so far, he’s neither spoken out or hinted intentions of choosing a new World Cup host.
Amid multiple ethical and human rights violations, football critics worldwide are suggesting a new host should be chosen. Ex-FIFA president Sepp Blatter has even chosen a replacement, the US. But will FIFA heed to his suggestion? So far, all signs show the World Cup will take place in Qatar as earlier scheduled.