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World Cup

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BEN TAVENER

Imagine over 1.5 billion people glued to their television screens for 120 minutes of pure excitement concluded by Lionel Messi fulfilling the dream of any aspiring soccer fan: lifting the FIFA World Cup trophy. Although this fairytale ending appealed to most, there are still the skeptics who are aware of what really goes on in the background. The World Cup has changed from the elite sporting event that many people still perceive it as, to a shadow of its former self concocted by the money-hungry heads at FIFA.

 

This whole debacle started on May 15th, 2004, nearly twenty years ago . A meeting was held in Zürich to announce the hosts for the 2010 World Cup, the one just after Italy’s 2006 competition. Much to the surprise of the soccer world, it was South Africa that won the bid, marking the first African country to host the prestigious tournament. This turned some heads, as South Africa was going through a less than ideal political situation at the time. It was later revealed that South Africa had paid upwards of $10 million to sway the votes of certain members to acquire their hosting privileges. This only came to fruition after the whole controversy of the 2014 and 2018 World Cups. In 2007, it was announced that the 2014 World Cup would be held in Brazil, a seemingly pleasing return to normality after the odd announcement of South Africa’s hosting venture. This was not the case in the slightest.

 

The government in Brazil, which was in absolute shambles at the time, took a lot of money out of the public transportation budget to fund this venture, as well as the 2013 Confederations Cup and the 2016 Olympic Games, all competitions that happened in Brazil. In 2013, riots broke out in the country which spanned up until the following year. If this controversy wasn’t enough, the next host of a World Cup ended up being announced as Russia, which is self-explanatorily controversial. Even more-so was the controversy surrounding the 2022 World Cup.

 

Around December 2010, Qatar was announced as the host for the upcoming 2022 World Cup. This was a record-breaking announcement, marking the first ever World Cup in the Middle East. However, Qatar is a country with many human rights violations to their name, and this became the last straw for some people. After three vaguely suspicious World Cup hosts and one very suspicious host shortly after, there were some questions to be raised. Qatar is a country with very wealthy people in power who will do anything for glory to their country. They gave a substantial amount of bidding money to FIFA and invested billions in stadium construction for the playing venues. The World Cup was one of many firsts: including the first World Cup to be hosted in the winter months due to Qatar’s harsh and arid climate, the first World Cup hosted in Asia, and the first World Cup with serious human rights violations associated with the construction of its stadiums. Sources range the total death toll of migrant workers from 400 all the way to 6,000+ people who paid with their own lives for the rich to get richer.

 

FIFA’s reign of corruption doesn’t end in the past, either. Their ambitious plans for the future World Cups has angered many fans of the beautiful game. First off, they will be expanding the amount of teams participating in the tournament from 32 to 48, which is an odd number. The 32-team format works well because you can divide all the teams into groups of four and have a round-robin phase where the two best squads will go to the knockout stage. This means that there will be 16 teams in the knockout stage, which will ensure every team plays in each round leading up to the final. If you apply the same system to 48 teams, there will be 24 teams that compete in this knockout stage, and there will eventually be an odd number of teams by the final rounds. FIFA have re-adjusted their entire system to accommodate this, just so there will be more games played and more money to be made. This is only the first odd change which will be put into place at the 2026 World Cup.

 

Another weird circumstance which will occur in the hundred-year anniversary of the competition in 2030 will be the fact that the games will occur spanning over six countries and three continents. It is set to be held in Spain, Portugal, and Morocco, which isn’t too bad and it isn’t unusual to see multiple countries host the tournament either. However, the first three games will be played in South America (mainly Argentina, Uruguay, and Paraguay), where the first edition of the World Cup was held, to honor its roots. The amount of inter-continental travel for fans and players alike has angered many, but it will not change the minds of FIFA.

 

The World Cup was once the most prestigious occasion in the most wide-spread sport in the world. Now it has devolved into a quick cash grab for the FIFA higher-ups and a political battlefield for host nations. Who knew that the core of The Beautiful Game could be so ugly?

 

South Africa paid millions of dollars in bribes to host the 2010 World Cup, says FIFA

2013 protests in Brazil – Wikipedia

The First World Cup in the Middle East – Center for International and Regional Studies

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About the Contributor
Andre M. Alperowitch, 9th grade, is a founding member of The Inkwell. His favorite topics to write about are sports and entertainment. He is also an avid artist who produces comics for the paper, and his favorite food is brigadeiro. Andre is also a passionate fan of Sao Paulo FC.

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