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United States Misses Out On World Cup

December 2, 2010

The United States bid to host the World Cup in 2022 was defeated today by Qatar, a small country home to 1.7 million people in the Middle East. Also winning today was Russia which will host the World Cup in 2018. This marks the second time in a row that the United States has lost in its bid to host a major international sporting event after Rio de Janeiro was chosen to host the 2016 Summer Olympic Games over Chicago.

The decision was especially shocking to analysts because of the supposed limitations of Qatar’s ability to host the World Cup. The summer months will be hot, and the country is very small. In 2002, South Korea and Japan, two relatively small countries, hosted together, but Qatar provided a bid in which it was the sole host. The nation has promised to spend lavishly in order to build new stadiums and provide air conditioning in them. This shouldn’t be a problem as it is a country rich with money from oil.

The question that I think is more relevant in the United States than “Why Qatar?” is “What now for US soccer?” There are reasons for giving the tournament to Qatar such as a diplomatic attempt to spread the games throughout the world. This proved to be a great success in South Africa with a fun, safe, and competitive tournament, so why should Qatar be any different? Yes, it will be hot, but there is plenty of time and money to figure this problem out. The technology already exists to solve this problem with retractable roofs and air conditioning. What is more relevant is the impact on US soccer which was riding a strong wave after an exciting World Cup tournament for the Americans in 2010. The country was captivated and people were watching. Will US soccer be able to maintain that excitement? The World Cup in 2022 surely would have helped.

The World Cup may also have helped the MLS which saw ratings for its championship game plunge 44% from last year. The MLS has succeeded in bringing over stars such as David Beckham and Thierry Henry, building new stadiums, and expanding in size, but this has not translated to great success. Perhaps, the World Cup would have helped the league grow or regain momentum. We will not know, but we do know that US soccer will need a new plan to continue growing the sport. Relying on the excitement of a World Cup isn’t a possibility for now.

– Jason

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