So the 2018 World Cup will be held in Russia; the 2022 in Qatar. Makes perfect sense to me. Soccer thrives in undemocratic or authoritarian countries. It’s the sport of czars and emirs, if you will. The din of the plastic vuvuzela horn captures perfectly the game’s endless monotony, and the U.S. is missing out on nothing.
But the World Cup decision sure is telling. It’s rather wince-making now to read things like this, from February 3, 2009:
The U.S. Soccer Federation thinks the election of President Barack Obama will help persuade FIFA to award the 2018 or 2022 World Cup to the United States.
“Given everything that, frankly, President Obama has said, everything he stands for, everything he’s talked about in terms of reaching out to the world,” U.S. Soccer Federation president Sunil Gulati said Monday, “that trying to bring the global game to the United States and opening our borders up for a festival of 32 countries and hundreds of thousands of people from all corners of the world would be viewed in a very positive way.”
Although many wish it weren’t so, there is something inherently paradoxical about “trying to bring the global game to the United States.” If we can now just get back to the business of bringing the American game to everyone else.