Road to Qatar: Dirty clothes are washed at home

One thing is certain, I am going to wake up Sunday with the excitement of a little kid on Christmas morning. The World Cup is finally here and Qatar will welcome thousands of fans with the inaugural ceremony and opening match between the host country and Ecuador.

We have been waiting 156 days since the supposed start of the most anticipated tournament; due to weather conditions the game was pushed back to Nov. 20. The 2022 Qatar World Cup has been in the making since 2010 — a period of 12 years where the Middle Eastern country has been under the spotlight. 

A recent Netflix documentary showcasing interviews with former FIFA president Sepp Blatter and other executive board members depicts the corruption within the largest sports governing body. 

The first episode of the documentary highlights how greed can become the largest enemy of organized sport. We learn that the previous FIFA president, João Havelange, practically handed Blatter the seat of president. Blatter had been within the organization leading the efforts of commercialization of the game. Through his salesman personality, Blatter was able to land huge sums of money through major deals with brands such as Adidas and Coca-Cola. That is where corruption began. 

As a result of the immense marketing deals, Blatter was convinced of moving on to larger feats and looked to broadcast rights as an answer. Through a partnership with International Sport and Leisure, Blatter was able to market deals with major broadcasting companies and thus began making large amounts of revenue. 

This piece of insight helps us understand why Blatter and FIFA chose to do a bid for both the 2018 and 2022 World Cups as early as 2010. Typically, only one World Cup’s location was decided per term. It is understandable that when you can sell a bundle of two products rather than one, you can upcharge the sale. That is just what the intentions were here; putting two tournaments together so that broadcasting companies would negotiate a larger deal and have FIFA, as a result, earn more money. 

Of course, the documentary also shows how many of the officials within the federation would receive bribes in exchange for a vote — one which would mean Blatter as president or the World Cup in your country. Blatter became president in 1998. A year later he started a program called GOAL which was meant to fund the development of the sport in countries with less resources. This resulted in a form of loyalty from these countries towards Blatter that would help him in his campaigns. One ran on the foundation that he would bring the World Cup to an African country; a few years later South Africa won the bid. 

Overall, the documentary shows how FIFA is a garden of Eden that grants only a select group of individuals an invitation to enjoy the riches. These riches, however, have corrupted the minds of these executives and in turn have made the game more dirty. However, fans don’t seem to mind this whole issue, as we want to see a great spectacle. And if the final is rigged to have Messi and Ronaldo face-off in the last match, we’d enjoy it equally.

José Romo-González is a junior writing about the FIFA Qatar 2022 World Cup. His column “Next Stop: Qatar” runs every other Friday.