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In an appeal last week addressing the phenomenon of a World Cup in Qatar in November and December of 2022, La Liga, the top league in Spain, reminded the Court of Arbitration for Sport that by disrupting Spain’s soccer season, holding the spectacle in the fall would cost La Liga somewhere around $72 million.
[T]he corruption and deaths that have attended the particular choice of Qatar as a host for the 2022 event...should shame even FIFA.
Left unsaid until additional appeals are filed is that moving the World Cup out of its customary time slot in the summer would similarly disrupt soccer’s big leagues in England, Germany, Italy and elsewhere.
The proposal to change the dates of the 2022 World Cup came from FIFA in March. It constituted recognition that earlier assurances from Qatar regarding the construction of outdoor venues that would be air-conditioned to facilitate playing soccer in 110-plus degrees were so much hot air, and that even if such wonders worked, many fans were likely to drop dead in the heat waiting in line to get into them.
It’s not that those responsible for the construction of the venues in Qatar haven’t been trying. They’ve been building away, despite the deaths of many of the workers imported and essentially held captive to do the heavy lifting.
As early as February of 2014, The Guardian was reporting that more than 400 Nepalese migrant workers had died on the project, and a human rights organization in Nepal was warning that the death toll might reach 4,000 before the 2022 tournament began.
FIFA didn’t waver in the face of that grisly prospect. Maybe they won’t waver in the face of the appeal by the Spanish league, either, though bringing up the loss of millions and millions of dollars is likely to get their attention. That’s the language FIFA understands, whether the message comes in Spanish, German, Italian or English.
Both the men’s and women’s World Cups, as they transpire on the field, are glorious treats. But the process by which the opportunity to host the men’s World Cup is awarded, and the corruption and deaths that have attended the particular choice of Qatar as a host for the 2022 event, should shame even FIFA.
The Court of Arbitration has not yet set a date to hear the Spanish League’s appeal. Perhaps appeals from soccer associations around the world will take the court off the hook by pressuring whoever next heads FIFA to move the 2022 World Cup to an appropriate stage.
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