Column: FIFA Failings

Jake Pfeiffer, News Editor & Copy Editor

The corruption that led FIFA to allow Qatar to host the 2022 World Cup has been well documented. 

According to Vox, as the World Cup came to television, more and more countries vied to host the event. Nations offered FIFA billions in TV deals, new stadiums and revenue sharing. Bribes came with the public offerings, with Germany hosting the 2006 World Cup after purchasing the four votes they needed to get the bid.

Frankly, FIFA needs to be better. 

Again according to Vox, authoritarian nations tend to make the best cases to host the World Cup they can pledge the most investment into infrastructure, and are freer from public scrutiny when attempting to bribe voters. That’s how Russia won the bid in 2018, and how Qatar won the 2022 bid.

Despite the massive financial losses associated with the World Cup (Qatar spent almost $200 billion, and were only given $1.7 billion from FIFA in return, according to Aljazeera), money isn’t the reason countries bid to host the World Cup.

According to Aljazeera, the international recognition and long term investments that come with a World Cup are what drives countries to host it. 

By allowing two consecutive World Cups to be hosted by authoritarian states, FIFA is giving them international political power and legitimizing some of their worst actions.

The international community can’t let this continue. FIFA needs to use the power they wield for good and help young democracies, rather than entrenched authoritarians grow.

There is, of course, the problem of funding. As I said, world cups are expensive, and growing nations certainly can’t afford to drop hundreds of billions of dollars on a few stadiums. 

It should be noted that the money Qatar spent on the World Cup is unprecedented; they outspent the previous eight hosts COMBINED by $180 billion, according to CNBC.

So really, World Cups on average cost just $6 billion, using CNBC’s numbers. The extravagant amounts of money Qatar dropped on the 2022 world cup is far from the norm.

For developing nations looking to make a splash on the world stage, $6 billion is much more manageable. 

Qatar is projected to make $4.7 billion in profits, according to CNBC, and combined with the $1.5 billion given by FIFA, that’s already enough to cover the cost of a cup.

FIFA also makes a large sum of money off the games they made $4.6 billion in 2018 just from media deals, plus all ticket profits and another $1 billion in marketing rights according to Aljhazeera.

Even when compensating for the higher costs associated with hosting events in countries lacking infrastructure, FIFA makes more than enough to help them build up for the cup.

Yet the economics resolved, there is still the issue of FIFA’s own corruption.

According to FIFA themselves, they’ve set in motion numerous programs to cleanse the sport of corruption, and according to the New York Times all of the corrupt officials whose votes were bought by Qatar are now gone. 

FIFA has the money to help struggling economies grow and the political power to do good in the world. Now it’s time for them to show that they have the will to.