The Ugly Game

The Ugly Game is a book published by The Sunday Times in 2014 about how Qatar won the right to host the World Cup 2022. Two journalists investigated tons of material provided by a whistleblower and described in detail the payments that were made to get enough votes to win the bid. After reading this book one is puzzled how it was possible that the World Cup still took place in 2022 in Qatar despite of all the proven corruption.

Now, not even one year after this controversial World Cup in the Gulf, FIFA announced that the World Cup in 2034 will be held in another Gulf country, Saudi-Arabia. This comes as a surprise not only because some issues related to the World Cup location of Qatar will be similar in Saudi-Arabia but also because of FIFA's rotation system. According to their rules the hosting of the World Cup rotates amongst FIFA's six regional confederations. That means that after the World Cup took place in Asia in 2022 it would have taken far more than 12 years to rotate back to Asia in 2034. But since the next World Cup 2026 will take place in North America FIFA decided recently to host the following World Cup 2030 in three (!) different continents, namely in Europe (Spain and Portugal), Africa (Morocco) and South America (Uruguay, Paraguay and Argentina). The result of these shenanigans is that North America, South America, Africa, and Europe are blocked to host the World Cup 2034 and the way is open for Asia to host the World Cup again. And since no other Asian country wanted to host the World Cup that year, Saudi-Arabia secured the right to be the host without further competition.

So, this time no votes were bought for this decision because no election was held. But the whole procedure in itself seems to be nonetheless corrupt: giving a World Cup to six hosts (who all don't have to play a qualifier anymore) in three continents for the first time ever with the obvious aim to cut the rotation waiting time short for Saudi-Arabia. A country that - by the way - has made its ambitions to host a World Cup public for quite a while. Having seen repeatedly all these corruption when it comes to the question who will host the World Cup, it is hard to imagine that World Cup games themselves are not being bought and manipulated as well.