FIFA sucks the host country dry, and then moves on to the next victim
In general, I am not a sports person. I have only watched two Riders games since 2006, and I do not watch NHL, MLB, NBA, or any other league games. However, I do have a soft spot for the FIFA World Cup.
Soccer remains a game where you have to really work for a goal, and the national nature of the competition makes for entertaining rivalries. Despite this, I also know that FIFA is a corrupt organization that runs roughshod over people’s livelihoods.
In his night show Last Week Tonight with John Oliver, John Oliver showed in a sketch how FIFA imposes its own laws during the World Cup and supersedes those of the host nation. The major thing that annoys me, however, is the wasteful stadium building that nations engage in to win the hosting of the World Cup.
If you’re going to host an event such as the World Cup, you will need some top-notch infrastructure. The problem is, that would leave only a few nations with the ability to host this event. Therefore, developing countries such as Brazil spend huge sums of money to build brand new stadiums solely for World Cup games and no other benefits. Brazil, for instance, built the Arena Amazonia in Manaus, a remote northern city surrounded by jungle. The Guardian’s Hadley Freeman describes this process as “$300m [spent] and three construction workers [dead], for a stadium where only four World Cup games would be played.” Brazil also engaged in extensive renovations of existing stadiums, angering the slum dwellers that lived near them. And, of course, one can’t mention stadium problems without Qatar’s slave labour problems. Ultimately, the World Cup has become synonymous with wasteful construction and corruption.
To fix this, I would propose an Olympic-style solution: hold the World Cup in one city, as opposed to one country. This has two main benefits. For developing countries that want to boost their profile, they can concentrate their re-development efforts in one place. While it may seem difficult to hold this event in one city, I believe that extending the Cup’s duration and/or having more matches per day can do it. According to the MLS website, each city’s stadium was used once every three to seven days. Since every match takes roughly 90-120 minutes, it should be possible to hold two to four matches in a stadium per day. If people do not want to stay in a stadium for that long, there’s always a TV or radio in a bar or hotel room. It should be possible for countries to host major events without breaking their budgets on stadiums. Developed countries should find it easier to host the World Cup in one city. Heck, they might even be able to host it in two cities if they’re pressed.
I will always enjoy watching the World and European Cups. Something about soccer and the way the players move just fascinates me. Yet, I do realize that this is a spectacle with a dark underbelly. While my proposed solution wouldn’t do anything about the underlying issues, I feel that this would be one small thing that would make the World Cup more bearable for hosts and fans.