On Thursday morning, FIFA will announce their selections for the hosts of the 2018 and 2022 FIFA World Cups.
Nine bids from 11 countries and three confederations are vying to be hosts of the greatest single-sport competition on the planet.
It has been a long and difficult process, but 2018 hopefuls England, Russia, Spain/Portugal and Belgium/Netherlands, along with the 2022 candidates Qatar, Australia, the United States of America, Japan and South Korea stand on the brink of either joy or sadness.
At 10:00 a.m. Eastern Standard Time tomorrow morning, football fans worldwide will watch and wait from home, work or school to have the answer to the question we have all wondered for the past several years.
Who will win FIFA's approval as the hosts of the 2018 and 2022 World Cups?
I know FIFA will never read this warning, but it is one that needs to be addressed.
QATAR CANNOT HOST THE 2022 FIFA WORLD CUP!
Though I believe that either the United States or Australia will be excellent hosts, and I will be there if I have to travel to the outback, I fear that FIFA's decision may be in favor of the undeveloped Middle Eastern nation and this makes me sick to my stomach.
I am 18 years old. I will be 30 at the time of the 2022 World Cup. By then, I hope that my dreams of being either a football reporter or match announcer will be complete. As such, I intend on being present at the World Cup.
My fear, though, is over my nationality.
I am American.
Wherever you are in the world, you have seen the videos of the troubles in the Middle East, especially in parts of Iraq and Iran, but all over the region, where Americans are hated more than anything imaginable.
This is why if Qatar does host the World Cup, I would rather do my work from a safe place near my home, whether that is here in the United States, or England, where I plan on furthering my broadcasting studies when I graduate from college.
Americans will travel anywhere in the world, but the Middle East is a big no-no.
This is understandable. The region is constantly at war with itself and to put innocent people in the crossfire is ridiculous in the first place. Add Americans into the mix, and you have a whole new ballgame.
This is a major problem for FIFA from an economic standpoint, as well as a safety concern. At the 2002, 2006 and 2010 FIFA World Cups, only the host nations purchased more tickets than Americans. Contrary to popular opinion, football is now one of the most popular sports in the US. It is played by more people than any other sport and World Cup ratings were better than the Super Bowl.
Nevertheless, we Americans know not to go anywhere near the Middle East. Those who do are put under the most extreme security.
FIFA would be putting lives at risk. Even if American spectators do not travel, what of the United States national team?
By 2022, the way the game is developing here, it will not be surprising if we are talking about the United States as a contender to lift the hardware—one of several reasons for our bid. It was horrible enough to read the news of what happened to the Togo team bus at the last African Cup of Nations, when three team members and staff were killed. They were not even the prime targets.
Sending the US National Team to the Middle East is asking for trouble.
That is my primary concern, but there are several other logical explanations to give the bid to the United States.
A United States World Cup is a win-win for all parties. Of all the risks taken by FIFA in terms of hosts (and there have been many), the United States proved to not be one at all. The 1994 FIFA World Cup still holds the record for the largest attendance (3.6 million). Our transportation systems are top notch. We have nearly 850 hotels nationwide ready to accommodate our country's guests should we be selected.
While Qatar would need to spend ludicrous amounts of money to build and renovate stadiums, we already have stadiums fitted to host events such as the World Cup. The 18 grounds submitted with the bid average about 75,000 seats each, with a few reaching more towards 100,000. No renovation would be needed. No work would need to be done to make the stadiums more accessible. We already have a sound infrastructure in that respect.
How about climate as an issue? Qatar reaches near 120 degrees Fahrenheit in the summer (about 49 degrees Celsius), which poses a significant health risk for players and spectators alike. The United States gets nowhere near that temperature. Very few of our proposed locations reach 100 on a regular basis in the summer months. Stadiums in cities such as Boston, New York, Indianapolis, Chicago, St. Louis, Denver, and Seattle will not have to deal with temperature issues.
Quite simply put, the United States is a far better host option than Qatar. I understand FIFA's desire to give an opportunity to every region of the world, but at what cost? 3 million more people attended the last World Cup in the United States than live in Qatar!
How does the small developing nation expect to handle a wave of people all arriving at once that immediately outnumber them? As an analyst on ESPN put it today, "these people are crammed into a space roughly the size of Connecticut." I live in Connecticut, and I can tell you that you cannot host a World Cup in Connecticut, even with our beautiful summer weather. How do they expect to hold one in Qatar?
With climate, the issue of accommodation, preparation (building/renovating stadiums) and the possibility of terrorist threats (which honestly scares me more than the other issues), Qatar is not as strong a host as the United States.
Sunil Gulati, President Barack Obama, Former President Bill Clinton, Morgan Freeman and Landon Donovan did an excellent job pitching the reasons for a US World Cup in 2022. The game is even more popular here than it was in 1994. We need to do little to prepare. And we are, as Morgan Freeman said, "the world's home away from home."
President Obama continued the argument. "It's important that all the teams who come to any World Cup venue feel that they, too, are playing at home, not just for people watching on television," Clinton said. "I tell everyone maybe America's best claim to this World Cup is that we have the only nation you can put the World Cup that can guarantee no matter who makes the final, we can fill a stadium with home-nation rooters."
I think Australia would be excellent as well, but the United States is by far the strongest bid. The only thing that may hurt them is that they held the most successful World Cup ever, only 16 years ago. That being said, it will have been 28 years by the start of the 2022 World Cup. To vote against it because it will have hosted twice in a third of a century is ridiculous.
Bring it to my country. The United States is by far the best candidate.