(WFI) A good little’un should never beat a good big’un. That’s been pretty much the theme ever since Qatar upset the odds by winning the right to host the 2022 World Cup ahead of Australia, Japan, South Korea, and the USA.
The surprise and outrage over the tiny Middle Eastern nation upstaging and outmaneuvering the supposedly superior candidates has been almost colonial in nature, not least from the English, who helped fuel the corruption allegations against Qatar via the British media even though the two nations were never in direct competition to stage the same finals.
The pejorative argument appearing to be – how could THEY do better than US?
In the wake of its victory Qatar has paid a heavy price, having spent the last few months since the vote re-justifying its bid and fending off allegations of wrongdoing, which it now transpires emanated from someone with a vested interest in sticking the boot in.
Phaedra Almajid, a former international media officer for Qatar 2022, withdrew her whistleblowing allegations last Sunday after admitting that she lied as an act of revenge after losing her campaign job. Her guilt at the stink she’s caused and the damage she’s done to reputations apparently now too much for her conscience to bear.
However, such is the strength of feeling against Qatar that even her mea culpa has been brought into question, with some suggesting her retraction is suspicious and may have been coerced by the Qataris. Others, somewhat inevitably, remain convinced that there’s no smoke without fire.
And the antipathy towards the future 2022 hosts shows no sign of abating.
Qatar’s critics having seized on every opportunity to undermine its success, from sniping at the amount of money spent on the bid (in excess of $43 million which the oil-rich nation could comfortably afford), to gleefully touting unsubstantiated and ultimately false rumours that the 2022 hosts plan to bastardize the sport by playing matches over three thirds as opposed to two halves.
This would limit the health risks to players in the brutal summer heat. Not a bad suggestion, incidentally, but not one the Qataris ever proposed to FIFA.
At present, the first FIFA World Cup to be staged in the Middle East seems destined to take place under a cloud of resentment – perhaps the only cloud there’ll be during the Qatari summer but that’s another story.
Granted, there are still 11 years to go to the big kick-off, and those firing the slings and arrows of discontent may have gotten over themselves by then, either that or they won’t be around or in a position to have anyone heed their barbed comments.
In the meantime, Qatar has to build – stadia, infrastructure, but most of all bridges, as ultimately it’s the restoration of relationships that may be most significant in determining the success of this troubled World Cup.
By INSIDER columnist Terry Baddoo
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