New York: American media reacted with shock to FIFA’s decision to snub a US bid for the 2022 World Cup in favor of Qatar, some dubbing the move a “money grab” from a nation rich in oil and natural gas.
“Qatar? Really? Has the FIFA cartel seriously lost all of its soul? Is it only about the dirty oil money? Does it really care about growing the game? Or lining its pockets?” asked Seattle Times columnist Steve Kelley.
“This decision is strictly a money grab. All this announcement does is fuel the already-existing suspicions of collusion that have haunted the entire bid process.”
Comments about Qatar’s extreme heat and lowly football status, 113th in the FIFA rankings, were common.
“It’s not like Qatar has been growing a domestic league the way the United States has,” Kelley said. “There’s not going to be a headline: ‘Messi Leaves Barca for Doha Oil Kings.’
“Want to know what 50 degrees Celsius feels like? Turn your oven to bake and stick your head in it for about 10 seconds. Don’t worry. It’s a dry heat.
“Besides, FIFA has been assured that all of the stadiums in Qatar will be air-conditioned. Air-conditioned? Those stadiums better be refrigerated. They better have the AC cranked to the Frozen Tundra setting.”
The New York Times summed up Qatar with the headline “It’s Small, It’s Hot and It Has a Lot of Money”.
“This is definitely shocking and in many ways unfortunate,” said Philadelphia mayor Michael Nutter, whose city was with Seattle and the New York area among 18 finalists for 12 match sites had the US bid won.
“You can’t help but feel it was all about money,” American defender Danny Califf of the MLS Philadelphia Union told the Philadelphia Inquirer.
Grahame Jones of the Los Angeles Times wondered about how Qatar, where alcohol sales are banned in all but certain hotels, will handle the issue with an event featuring beer sponsors.
“How will Qatar react to the thirsty fans seeking an alcoholic drink or to scantily clad fans seeking to sunbathe, where tournament-time temperatures will soar well above 100 degrees?” Jones wrote.
New York Times columnist George Vecsey prodded Americans to move past the hard feelings of defeat and continue to support football.
“What the United States needs to do right now, rather than sulk and mutter about being cheated, is continue developing soccer the way it has in the last generation,” he wrote.
“Holding the World Cup is not a birthright, not a prize for having a lot of hotels near a lot of stadiums. It’s a big world out there.
“Oligarchs and sheiks instead of American hedge-fund operators and rogue bankers. Take your pick.”