I spent a significant part of my childhood in Brazil, a nation that breathes and lives futebol, and so of course it was there that I first developed an appreciation for the beauty of the game and also a bitterness for its darker aspects.
Because there is so much money involved in soccer, corruption is pervasive in every aspect of the sport.
The World Cup, the biggest and most popular sporting event in the world, took place in Qatar because of bribes. It is a country that lacks the love for the game nor had the infrastructure for such an event but has buckets of oil money. Tom Blow’s Irish Mirror article “‘Absolute disgrace’ -Jamie Carragher lets rip…” and Tariq Panja and Kevin Draper “US says FIFA officials were bribed to award World Cups to Russia and Qatar” New York Times article, discusses the extreme consequences of this a decision
The World Cup is the biggest event in football, and it has been held every four years since 1930. It brings together people from all over the world in one host country, where football and different cultures are celebrated. Unfortunately, this time we saw the World Cup held in Qatar, a country that was never recognized for its football. Its population and size is smaller than most US states, so most of the world knew something fishy was going on when Qatar was chosen as the host of the World Cup in 2010. It is widely known that FIFA officials are very corrupt , but we never had evidence. . Now we know for sure that those officials who voted for Qatar were bribed.
In the New York Times, Tariq Panja and Kevin Draper explained how the US Department of Justice got involved in the FIFA-Qatar corruption case. In their article they show a copy of an official DOJ document stating that “US prosecutors on Monday expressly disclosed details of money paid to five members of FIFA’s top governing body before the 2010 vote to choose Russia and Qatar as hosts..”
Most of these officials have now been removed from their roles, but it is too late.
Qatar is really small and did not have the infrastructure for the amount of tourism that the World Cup attracts, causing this to be the most expensive World Cup ever, with a cost of 220 billion. It cost more than the last ten World Cups combined!
Many of the stadiums used in the World Cup had to be built from scratch by migrant workers desperate for work. Those workers endured the most appalling working conditions, as Tom Blow noted: “It is believed that at least 6,500 migrant workers have died since Qatar began building the infrastructure for the tournament, although the organizers have denied this.”
Are we shocked that migrant workers are subjected to this in a country with serious human rights issues? Imagine the worker’s loved ones going home not knowing if they are alive or not, because they don’t even have the decency to acknowledge the worker’s death. I am an immigrant, so I am somewhat aware of how badly these countries can treat us. But the treatment these migrant workers in Qatar received was inhumane. The sad thing is that now that these stadiums have been used for some World Cup games, most of them will be destroyed because the cost of maintaining them is too high. All those lives lost for what? Some games.
This World Cup had a detrimental effect on the athletes. Because Qatar is mostly desert, they had to move the World Cup to the winter, because the average temperature during the summer in Qatar is 90° F. The World Cup is usually played in the months of June and July, which is the best. time for players as the regular football season ends in May, giving them time to rest and recover from injuries.
With this World Cup being played in the winter in the middle of the Futebol season, it caused the season to be congested, with games almost every three days to make up for the games missed while the Qatar World Cup took place. Speaking from experience, playing every three days is a nightmare: your body doesn’t have enough time to rest and recover, leading you to get injured easily. Tom Blow observed in his Irish Mirror article, “It is moving to the situation where it is now in the middle of the season, and players who spend their whole lives dreaming of playing in the World Cup will not play.”
Americans may not realize how deeply ingrained soccer is in some people’s lives. But I remember when I was a kid, Ivory Coast qualified for its first World Cup in 2010. At the time, the nation was engaged in a deep civil war, but the national team players asked the country to stop fighting and come together as one, at least until the World Cup is over Cup. And, would you believe it, the civil war was put on hold until the World Cup was over.
So when players grow up dreaming and working every day until they are professionals, only to have their dreams cut short by a minor injury, it’s really sad. The World Cup is supposed to represent the pinnacle of a nation’s display of footballing prowess, but how can that happen when so many superstars are left at home cheering for their side rather than supporting them? Players only had a week off after the World Cup before club football resumed. That’s just a week break after a grueling tournament; people sometimes forget that athletes are still people and not machines that could play every week of the year.
Having said all this, this World Cup was truly one of the most exciting and memorable tournaments in recent memory, with many unexpected results and inspiring performances from underdogs and established powers alike. It was a joy to see Morocco make history as the first African nation to reach the semi-finals, and to see South Korea and Japan have fabulous runs that captured the hearts of fans around the world. I even saw my hero and idol really carry his country on his back crowning Argentina winner over France with one of the most intense finals to date.
In the end, soccer won. But it is impossible to ignore the greed and corruption of FIFA officials and the questionable decision to host the event in Qatar. While some may argue that “politics don’t belong in football” or that “it was important to bring the World Cup to the Middle East for the first time”, the fact remains that the horrific treatment of migrant workers in Qatar and the impact. on players who had to compete in the middle of their club seasons cannot be justified.
The World Cup should be a celebration of the beautiful game and a way to exchange culture, a way to bring people together, not a platform for corruption and greed. The World Cup must be staged in a country that respects the well-being and preparation of the players, properly celebrates and appreciates the rich history and culture of Futbol, but also that can handle the influx of tourists. Australia, Argentina and Morocco are all worthy contenders to host this glorious occasion and continue to showcase the elegance and diversity of football worldwide.
Since the United States is joint host of the 2026 World Cup, I hope we can take advantage of it, because soccer is slowly but surely growing in our nation.
Luiz Macedo attends Norwalk Community College.