Keeping Score

Why is America All Huffy About Qatar?

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Qatari fans celebrate at Aspire Park in Doha December 2, 2010, after the announcement that Qatar will host the 2022 World Cup.

REUTERS/Stringer

Really? That’s been the reaction of most Americans to the announcement that Qatar will host the 2022 World Cup.  Perhaps such self-righteous American soccer buffs should try asking that of themselves. Really? As in, you’re really going to gripe about this?

Many Americans thought it was their divine right to host to the 2022 World Cup. That’s good news for U.S. soccer: coming off a World Cup that shattered ratings records, we have claimed some ownership of the sport. But why does ownership have to turn into arrogance? People are whining that Qatar is not a soccer country, so it should not host the event. Well, what has America contributed to global soccer besides an endless debate how whether the game is finally going to “catch on” as a spectator sport here?

(See what FIFA’s choices say about the world.)

We’ve been having that discussion since at least 1994, when the U.S. actually did host the World Cup. So we had our cut.  Aren’t we a country that is built on fairness? Why shouldn’t the Middle East get a shot at the event?

(See pictures from the 2010 World Cup.)

“But it’s friggin’ Qatar! A country with less people than Houston!” It would be naive to think an anti-Arab, anti-Muslim sentiment isn’t driving at least part of the reaction. Americans would not be as aggrieved if they lost to Australia. Sure Qatar’s petrodollars could have rigged the bid. But what country uses money to buy influence better than the U.S.? Plus, have we not forgotten the bribery scandal surrounding Salt Lake City’s (winning) bid to host the 2002 Olympics?

As for Qatar’s heat . . .well, Kansas City is no picnic in the summer either.

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