Recent international headlines about the arrest of FIFA officials in Zurich have resurrected long standing questions about corruption at the highest levels of the organization. FIFA preys on the hopes of host nations to hold the world’s biggest sporting event while continuing to enjoy non-profit status. The raid was the result of money laundering charges initiated by U.S. courts for wire transfers through American banks. No one seems surprised at the belated admission of said former FIFA presidents to taking millions of dollars of bribes offered by countries including South Africa and Morocco.
There are other problems with the World Cup, like the millions of dollars siphoned from national budgets to build to host stadiums. Stadiums that often sit empty after the games – as is the case with most recent host, Brazil.
In 2010, the tiny nation of Qatar was awarded the bid to host for 2022. To the astonishment of the world, 2022 would be the first time the world’s game would be hosted in the Middle East. Qatar beat out the U.S., the UK, and Australia.
And we haven’t stopped hearing about it since.
It’s hot in the desert, people complain. (Surely the bid committee took that into consideration?)
People are dying, undercover journalists warn.
I find it hilarious that in the five years since the award, the slighted western nations have been recycling the same headline, about the abuse of the migrants, demanding that the bid be taken away from Qatar.
I don’t dispute that building stadiums in Qatar – or any country for any global sport – is costly in human and financial capital.
However, men (and they are all men), from across South Asia have been dying for several decades in the Gulf states as they built malls, houses, and schools. They first came in the 1970s to help build the petroleum infrastructure. Where were the outcries then – or since? Suddenly the world cares about the conditions of migrant laborers even as as they ignore the treatment of migrants in their own communities.
The unfolding melodrama that has become the FIFA story makes me wonder what else could we gain from upsetting the privileged purview of western nations.
Could we get justice in Syria if someone could prove they had stolen the Olympics from France?
Would we send crisis triggering bankers to jail if they had ties to match fixing in the Pacquiao-Mayweather match ? Or at least garnish their wages?