Here’s a bold prediction: Spain will host the next world cup. Football world cup that is. The Mundial.
The 2022 FIFA World Cup was awarded to Qatar some years ago you may recall. So, you may be wondering, what on earth is this old dad going on about?
Qatar and Sport
Qatar recently stage the Athletics World Championships. Despite attempts by certain sectors of the mainstream media to put a brave face on it, the championships were widely considered to be a disaster. A virtually empty stadium for most of the events and high temperatures were the two biggest criticisms. Some athletes collapsed during some of the longer events.
So, imagine a game of football lasting a minimum of 90 minutes. Never mind a game going to extra time – another 30 minutes – and then a penalty shoot-out! Maybe some people would quite enjoy seeing some of these over-paid footballers collapsing due to heat exhaustion. I could see the irony in that. But let’s not be cruel.
Get the drinks in…?
Forget the weather for a moment. What about the lack of alcohol?
As we all know football fans around the world love a party. And that generally involves drinking alcohol. Lots of alcohol.
Really though. What footie fan would want to go? I have been to Qatar. You can only drink in the hotels. But only in the hotels. This means that football fans will be restricted to partying in their hotels. Which I am sure they will do quite well. But surely that is not the point.
They may allow drinking in “fan zones” – time will tell but if it is only in hotels then fans will be stuck there all day, every day… There is very little else to see and do.
Then there will be the inevitable rule changes. Quarters no doubt, instead of two halves. Allowing the players time to recover and rehydrate. It will not be good for old fashioned supporters of the beautiful game.
If Qatar still hosts the tournament I am tempted to say that I hope nobody goes. Many will still go however; no matter what.
The Claim for Spain
And as we all know, Spain is one of the world’s biggest and best loved tourist/holiday destinations. Rightly so. This means that all the infrastructure is all there. Hotels, public beaches and tourist attractions aplenty. Spain also has an excellent public transport system on top of the well-known (tourist industry driven) airport network.
Oh! And plenty of places for fans to have a drink Before, during and after the games.
The stadiums are also ready to go with some of the worlds biggest and best football teams playing in Spain.
Now, there may be several countries that could stake similar claims to Spain. But Spain now has a track record of stepping up to the mark. Madrid successfully hosted the south American cup final between Boca and River. To successfully stage that event on such short notice speaks volumes. And, as far as I know still, there was no reported violence. (For more on this please see previous posts here…and here.)
Personally, I don’t think the world cup should have been given to such a small, desert country, for all the obvious reasons. I am sure that this is a topic which will be talked about a lot in the coming months. But if any country needs to step in and correct that mistake then Spain is surely it.
Naturally I also have selfish reasons for that. I would love Dani to see it in his own country.
Holidays in the Sun
The more you think about it the more it seems logical. Why on earth would football fans want to visit Qatar for a tournament? There is no obvious reason. I can see even the most ardent fans staying at home to watch the matches. Or, more likely, watching football on TV while sitting in a Spanish bar on holiday.
That is more or less what I did myself back in 1982. The last and only time Spain hosted the football spectacular. That was the first time I ever visited Spain. I remember quite vividly the games I watched including the final in which Italy beat Germany. Or West Germany, as they were then known – that’s how long ago it was.
Apologies to the many football fans in Qatar for starting this rumour (or should I say, ‘prediction’?). But really? Was it ever the right place to host the world’s biggest sports tournament?
I am not a betting man, but I might just try and get some bookmakers odds on this prediction…