The negative reaction of Qatar winning the 2022 FIFA World Cup bid reminds me of when the United States was awarded the '94 FIFA World Cup bid on July 4, 1988.
For those of who were alive and can remember, the United States defeated Brazil and Morocco in order to secure the rights to host the World Cup on American soil.
In 1988, the United States didn't have a professional soccer league because the North American Soccer League no longer existed. And the last time the national team competed in the World Cup was in Brazil for the 1950 World Cup where they played the game of their lives in order to upset the powerful England national team 1-0.
Many in the media criticized FIFA for awarding the World Cup to a nation where soccer wasn't even popular amongst Americans. When FIFA awarded the United States the '94 World Cup, the argument made by the U.S. organizers was that the World Cup belongs to the world and every nation should be given the opportunity to host one. They also convinced FIFA that the United States was an untapped soccer resource that will generate millions and millions of dollars while establishing fresh, new fans.
As a result, the '94 World Cup became the most successful World Cup event in FIFA history by setting an attendance record of 3.5 millions. Sixteen years later, the United States has Major League Soccer and the Women's Professional Soccer League. While the U.S. women have won two World Cups in 1991 & 1999, the men's national team has competed in six consecutive World Cups.
Personally, I find it amazing how the United States has indeed become a true soccer nation. Unlike 1988, we have a diverse fanbase that is proud to wear the red, white and blue jersey. It's also marveling how the United States men's national team is no longer a laughing stock. The fact that they've become one of the best CONCACAF teams in 20 years simply demonstrates the quality of our team.
As an American, I would have loved it if the United States was awarded the 2022 World Cup. Realistically, it was a smart business move by FIFA officials. The reality is that the World Cup is a business and had FIFA given the United States the bid, they would have little leverage in securing additional funds.
By going with Qatar, not only is FIFA securing additional funds for their operations, they're also going to have more input in how the 2022 World Cup will be run.
When FIFA officials awarded the United States the '94 World Cup, we pleaded with the world to give us a chance and to visit our beautiful country. Now that Qatar is in the same situation that we were in 1988, I hope that we're willing to learn more about the Middle East.
When it's said and done, Qatar not only has the resources to give FIFA what they want, they also have 12 years to address any social issues the country is currently dealing with.
I'm aware a lot of Americans have pointed out the negative humane conditions of Qatar but if history serves me correctly, we're in no position to judge. If anything, we can use the 2022 World Cup as a vehicle to address the need for social change in Qatar.
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