I'm no proponent of American Exceptionalism. I've met far too many extra exceptionally stupid Americans to believe that we are inherently the best nation on Earth. Also, I've met too many statistics that suggest otherwise. But when I heard that the US lost out to host the World Cup in 2022 to Qatar, my first reaction was that the news had to be a joke. That the Onion had gotten involved. Something. But no, it is real.
Qatar. Never qualified for a World Cup. Not a single city with more than a million people. And yes, big cities are needed, because they have the built in infrastructure to deal with all the folks who come streaming in to say Berlin, or Washington DC, or Rio, or Doha(?) Seriously, World Cup Committee? Qatar? Are you sure you weren't kidding?
Average high in July in Qatar? 106 Degrees (f). Average low? 84 Degrees (f)! Good luck, teams not comprised of Bedouins!
I'm not alone in this reaction. I think most of the Western World is kind of scratching their head, but I leave it to my fellow opinionated bloggers to get at the heart of it.
There's the reliably pissy and liberal Charles Pierce (who I don't read enough of, dammit): "Qatar isn't the worst of them. Still, it says something about the corrupt old buffet-grazers at FIFA that this particular flea-bitten gas station was chosen to host the 2022 World Cup over the United States. Some things about international sports governing bodies never change, and the sweet-tooth for authoritarians is always right at the top of the list."
And here's That's On Point's Cardillo: "FIFA, who clear[ly] love a couple things: sashes, United Nations translation ear pieces and shiny things. These are people who's very ethos is to be wined and dined and scurried around into VIP enclaves of exclusive clubs and presidential hotel suites. Playing games in 150 degree summer heat on a tiny, nation on the Arabian penisula? Who cares! Pass the wine ... oh wait, no alcohol in Qatar? Err um ..."
To be fair, Pierce says that if you know where to go in Qatar, you can find booze. If your hotel asks if you want access to the library, say, "Yes!"