There are the usual issues that you find in any Arab country with virulent anti-Semitism, polygamy, and an attitude toward women that fits right in with the emirate’s 14th century mode of governance. There is no elected legislature. The people are subjects, beholden to the capricious whims of a potentate with three wives and 24 children. There is a “Municipal Council” where some members are elected, but the reality is that all power is in the hands of the amir, a nice enough fellow who is apparently considered a “progressive” in the Arab world but is still an autocrat.
What really beggars belief is that FIFA failed to take into account two crucial factors in their decision: the climate and Qatar as a tourist destination for Westerners.
As for the latter, just what is there to do in Qatar? This is from the official tourist site:
Tourists can explore the natural environment of Qatar by taking an exciting desert safari, relaxing at the many beaches and pools or just enjoying their favourite sport, be it bowling alleys, tennis, snookers, billiards, golf courses, or ice skating rinks. There is something for everyone in this wonderful place.
No doubt the British football hooligans are salivating at the thought of starting poolside fights or breaking up a bowling alley or two. There are good restaurants but alas, no drinking allowed except in exclusive hotels and clubs.
In fact, Qatar would do well to vastly expand the number of venues allowed to serve alcohol, or come 2022, soccer fans will be rioting because they won’t be able to get a beer or three. It’s going to be like tailgating at a football game where brats are outlawed. Americans wouldn’t sit still for that, and I doubt the boisterous Euro-football fanatics will be satisfied with citrus juice or iced tea.
They will need something cold to drink because the weather forecast for July 2022 will be sunny and hot. Temperatures will be at 110 degrees or above, which will give a whole new meaning to the term “sightseeing.”
It would be something akin to the NFL entertaining Super Bowl bids from cities like Tampa, Miami, San Diego, and Dallas and then awarding the game to Minot, North Dakota. Now Minot is a nice little town with friendly, hardy citizens, but playing a football game in early February with temps that can get as low as 40 below zero should not have been the NFL’s idea of an exciting venue.
For Qatar, how, you might ask, do they expect people to sit in the stands and watch a sporting event with the thermometer tickling 120 degrees. How do they expect players to perform in such life-draining heat?
The answer is — magic! Qatar has promised to build open air stadiums with air conditioning and to make them carbon neutral for good measure.
The plan is to plaster solar cells all over the roof and the outside of the stadium to capture the sun’s energy, turn that energy into freezing cold water, and then use gigantic blowers to circulate cold air for spectators and players.
FIFA bought it. Experts aren’t so sure:
Because of the massive amount of energy that air conditioning needs, some are sceptical that solar panels will actually be able to generate enough energy so they can claim to be carbon neutral. This includes David Butler of the Building Research Establishment (BRE).
“Putting solar panels on the outside of the Qatari stadium will not generate enough energy to cool it,” Mr Butler says. “They will simply run out of juice as the amount of energy required to do this would far outstrip the number of panels.”
The whole thing sounds like a Rube Goldberg idea. No doubt in the end they will need massive generators to assist in this green scheme of cooling fans and players. The fact that they will be playing most of the contests at night will probably help in making the games bearable to watch, but if you’re planning on going, I suggest you stay in your hotel and watch the games on TV.
Even if it works and fans don’t melt into their seats, the question remains: Why? Why sacrifice whatever high ideals are connected with the World Cup — and there are precious few that haven’t been sullied by FIFA — by holding the tournament in a socially backward autocracy that winks at terrorists and terror financing while allowing nauseatingly hateful bigotry directed against Jews?
It’s the money, stupid.