By J Hutcherson – WASHINGTON, DC (Dec 10, 2014) US Soccer Players – It’s hard to focus on the 2022 World Cup with any seriousness in 2014. FIFA‘s decision to announce the hosts for the 2018 and 2022 World Cups at the same time is regrettable for a lot of reasons. One of them is simple scope. It shouldn’t take twice as long to build the required infrastructure for one World Cup as it does another. Then again, most World Cup hosts aren’t bidding entirely new cities.
With all of this bogging FIFA down, it’s a fair assumption that they’d want the public back and forth to run its course. Focus on something else, say this summer’s Gold Cup, Euro 2016, and whatever is next on the soccer calendar. Instead, it’s FIFA making sure no one forgets that the 2022 World Cup is a cause for concern.
This time, FIFA president Sepp Blatter pointed out the obvious to insidethegame’s David Owen.
“Definitely I, as an International Olympic Committee (IOC) member, would be against holding the World Cup at the same time as the Winter Olympics. That is a fact.” FIFA president Sepp Blatter.
FIFA secretary general Jerome Valcke repeated that point in an Associated Press story. If you need an example of how damaging the World Cup hosting issues have been to FIFA’s public perception, the responses to Blatter’s latest will suffice. Should FIFA want to play the 2022 World Cup in the same time frame as the 2022 Winter Olympics, it will happen over Blatter’s objection. After all, he’s just one part of the FIFA bureaucracy. If the organization decides to stage a World Cup in that Olympic window, he has no choice but to accede to their decree.
To some extent, fair enough. This is how FIFA operates and it doesn’t take an ethics probe or handwringing pundits to figure out how a bureaucracy works. Then again, if those inside and outside of FIFA needed another reason to push for fundamental change, this is another good reason.
Over the last few years, FIFA has done a good job to insert transparency when what they should mean is accountability. Unfortunately for world soccer, public accountability isn’t the point of FIFA’s version of bureaucracy. It just isn’t, and attempting to sell the world on the illusion of meaningful reform is a waste of everybody’s time.
Speaking on the Nov 21 episode of the BBC World Football program, the head of CONMEBOL justified his region’s block of votes going to Blatter in the upcoming FIFA election by pointing out that we’re talking about an entertainment business. As hard as it is for those of us pushing for sports to be much more than that, it’s a point worth considering. However, it’s also a point with limits. The main one is when even casual fans of the sport can see a better way forward.
That’s FIFA’s biggest issue right now, even if it doesn’t match up with its own bureaucratic understanding of itself. Why anybody should seriously believe that many of the same people that created these problems should be the ones fixing them is a question best avoided. Since it doesn’t appear that anybody with the ability to divide voting blocks intends to run against Blatter for the FIFA presidency, FIFA accomplishes that right now by staying out of its own way.
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J Hutcherson started covering soccer in 1999 and has worked as the general manager of the US National Soccer Team Players Association since 2002. Contact him at email@example.com.
More from J Hutcherson:
- Is the CONCACAF Champions League broken?
- Don Garber’s League of Choice in a Soccer Nation
- Why DC needs DC United in a soccer stadium
- Will MLS expansion stop at 24?
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