Did Qatar bribe its way to the World Cup?

The Middle Eastern emirate beat the U.S. to host the 2022 soccer tournament. But did it win fairly?

The Emir of Qatar accepts the World Cup trophy on behalf of the tiny country, which will be host to the 2022 international soccer games.
(Image credit: Corbis)

FIFA announced on Thursday that Qatar, not the U.S, will host soccer's World Cup in 2022. Many in America are crying foul, even though the Middle Eastern emirate had been the favorite to host the world's largest sporting event. President Obama said FIFA, the sport's international governing body, had made the "wrong decision," while other critics claimed Qatari officials bribed members of the judging panel. "They have just bought the World Cup," said former U.S. soccer international Eric Wynalda. Did the tiny, oil-rich nation win the hosting gig by nefarious means, or is this just sour grapes on the part of the American media? (Watch the announcement)

Something is rotten in the state of soccer: Qatar's win doesn't make sense, says Patrick Rishe in Forbes. It is a tiny nation where temperatures hit 130 degrees in World Cup season, and it sits in a region plagued by "political instability." Plus, two FIFA officials were suspended just last month for "trying to sell their votes." This "reeks of corruption."

"Blatter control: FIFA's financially illogical World Cup site selections"

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Qatar won because of its impressive bid: There may be plenty of arguments against Qatar, says Philip Hersh in the Los Angeles Times, but its "brilliant" final presentation showed off "the modernity and global connection" of the country, and emphasized what the cup would mean "to the entire Middle East." That's what convinced FIFA voters.

"President Obama's answer shows wrong-headed U.S. attitude"

This was about money, not soccer: This was an "absolutely ridiculous" decision, says David Rothkopf in Foreign Policy. Maybe that is "sour grapes," but "I wouldn't be complaining like this" if FIFA could name "one compelling (wholesome) rationale" for awarding the hosting duties to Qatar. It can't, so one must assume that "the most odious organizing body in international sports" has chosen "petrodollars" over the good of the game.

"Sepp Blatter's Qatar (as rhymes with gutter) politics"

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