Wednesday, June 11, 2014

World Cup 2014: The Dark Side, Part II

This is where things get muddy and covered with litter and things that aren't biodegradable. And I'm going to make you read it because it's interesting and you should know about it. Why wouldn't I write about this, anyway?

Welcome to Part II.

Previously on The Sports Nut Blogs, I introduced you to the smaller parts of the dark side of the World Cup. Wednesday marks the beginning of this month-long event, and for the next few weeks, we're going to see players from all over the world strive to be known as the best in the world at what they do.

But after this fun stuff, we're going to see a bunch of political implosions on FIFA's part, especially in the case of World Cup locations in the future.

Y'see, this goes back a ways. In December of 2010, Qatar was voted by FIFA officials to host the 2022 World Cup, beating out Australia, Japan, South Korea, and fellow finalist United States. In response, the nation was overjoyed, seeing that this was a major opportunity for business and exposure. Fellow countries surrounding Qatar even offered to help in preparing for this event, seeing that this was a tall order for such a small and unrecognized country outside of the Middle East. [Side Note: Qatar is a peninsula on a peninsula, attached to an eastern end of Saudi Arabia. This is your geography lesson for today.]

Things seemed hunky-dory for about a year, and then allegations via whistleblower sprang up that there were FIFA officials involved in bribery toward the Qatari bid. On the heels of the 2014 World Cup in Brazil, allegations on bribery and corruption within FIFA expanded and swelled.

According to the Merriam-Webster dictionary, the word "bribe" is defined as this:

Basically, these guy took these alleged bribes in order for Qatar to get the World Cup in return for money to fun things such as businesses and campaign money. Although analysts believed that the success of Qatar's bid came from successful programs flourishing over the years, these allegations have taken center-stage, despite denials coming from FIFA senior officials.

There is more from this that made these corruption beliefs even more prominent. When you think the Middle East, what do you think of? Desert. Lots and lots of desert. Despite being surrounded by water almost completely, temperatures in the summer months can surge up to 120 degrees Fahrenheit (about 50 degrees Celsius). There were plans to have new technology installed into the stadium, using solar power to generate an effective form of air conditioning to combat the oppressive heat. While this is an excellent idea and has been proven to work, this technology has never been tested in a larger establishment like a [football] stadium. It might not seem very effective and the stadium dimensions might not be able to generate enough solar power to accommodate for nearly 70,000 people at once. Oh yeah, and speaking of the stadiums, there have been reports stating that the working conditions for the immigrant workers constructing the stadiums in preparation for the 2022 World Cup have been abysmal. The heat has been rough, there isn't enough support to lift beams and other heavy items, the machinery has been faulty, and these poor guys aren't even getting paid enough to do this. In fact, they're getting well-below sweatshop pay per day, and if they die on the job, they die on the job. This lead to many denials from FIFA staff as well, and it even led to some backlash from them after these reports were shown on Deadspin.

From bribery to poor working conditions in preparation, things continue going south. Investigations have been going on for quite some time, and seeing how there are many signs pointy to something fishy, World Cup sponsors are not feeling warm and fuzzy in the least bit. Sponsors Sony, Hyundai/Kia, Coca-Cola, Visa, and Adidas have expressed a great amount of concern, releasing statements in support of the investigations. Many of them are voicing FIFA's supposed defiance of their mission statements and defiance in human ethics [source here]. Imagine if they all bailed out. The only other sponsor who hasn't made any statements has been Emirates, and to my research and knowledge, they have remained quiet on the matter. Why, I'm not entirely sure.

To add more pressure, there have been numerous pledges to have FIFA President Sepp Blatter step down in lieu of the corruption within the organization. With re-election occurring next year, Blatter doesn't seem like he's a fan of the requests to step down. He also finds it sad about all of the controversy surrounding the bidding for Qatar to host the 2022 World Cup [source here]. Truthfully, at the age of 78, it might be time for him, but that's just me.

Now the question remains: What if the corruption isn't smoke and mirrors, and FIFA implodes on itself after the World Cup? Needless to say, the voting process for World Cup bidders will definitely be overridden. As it stands, not everyone is a fan of how the system currently runs, and that will be the first thing to be modified. Secondly, the FIFA staff will get a massive overhaul, and people are going to be 86'd and tar-and-feathered and the whole nine and--you get it. Third, there will be a possible chance that Qatar will get the World Cup hosting opportunity taken away from them in regards to unfair voting and bribery, and the host country voting will follow soon after. Would it be the United States? Nobody is really sure, considering that the whole process may have to be redone, and that the voting process may be revised. Things might look confusing at first glance, but if this is handled swiftly and effectively, there shouldn't be much to worry about.

See how dark and cloudy the World Cup is on the inside? There aren't any cookies on this dark side; in fact, it's a rather gigantic, magenta-looking elephant. But see, everything is a business. There is always going to be a bad apple to spoil the bunch. Corruption and negativity are going to happen under noses whether the mainstream media covers it or not. For the time being, this can't afford to overshadow the events occurring within the month. Besides, there's a lot of football to be played.



As a shameless plug, Julian Brown and Rick McGovern of The Soccer Desk Podcast cover the bribery allegations quite nicely on a special edition of the podcast, which launched Wednesday morning. Go have a listen.

No comments: