The Qatar World Cup Marks the End of an Era for Global Sporting Events
Plus: World Cup pods and pieces galore.
The following is an excerpt from my article published at World Politics Review (shoutout my employer).
To read the entire thing, sign up for a free account, then read the article here.
All the controversies surrounding the 2022 FIFA World Cup could, in theory, be traced back to Los Angeles and the city’s leaders who agreed to host the 1984 Summer Olympics. But it wouldn’t be fair, really.
After all, how could they have known that they would become the only city to turn a profit by hosting the Olympic Games? How could they have known that, in doing so, they would spur countless other governments to try and do the same, and that cities would go into massive debt in the process? And how could the City of Angels’ leaders have known about the corruption, human rights violations and “sportswashing” that would follow in the wake of their success?
Of course, they could not and did not know. But the financial and cultural success of the 1984 Summer Olympics did, albeit indirectly, lead more and more nations and municipalities to vie for the chance to host the Olympics and the World Cup and—at least in theory—reap the benefits. And it made the representatives of those nations and municipalities increasingly willing to do or say anything to win the hosting rights. In the decades that followed 1984, bids became increasingly ambitious. Budgets soared. And relatedly, corruption in the selection process skyrocketed.
It would all come to a head in 2010, when then-FIFA President Sepp Blatter announced the selection of Qatar as host of the 2022 World Cup, which kicked off Nov. 20 and is reaching a fever pitch as the opening round of pool play winds down.
It’s difficult to overstate the fallout from that decision and the course-correction that followed. Put simply, if 1984 was the beginning of the modern era of global sporting events, then 2010 was the beginning of the end for that era. And 2022 will mark its demise.
Read the rest here.
More great reads and listens about the World Cup:
The New York Times’ visual breakdown of what each team needs to make it out of their group.
This podcast series from NPR about Lionel Messi’s road to this moment and what it can tell us about identity, immigration, and how politics and soccer intertwine.
This article from Global Sports Matters about how Brazil’s iconic yellow jerseys have become the Brazilian equivalent of MAGA hats.
This article about the fancy technology inside the World Cup ball.
And this report about how China appears to be replacing shots of crowds at the World Cup with other shots.
That’s all for this edition of Cansler Culture. See ya next time.