Monday, November 14, 2022


A sports event that draws a bigger audience than any other sporting event.  As more than one person has noticed big money attracts corruption..

 One point made evident is that it does indeed take a lot of money to put on a World Cup.  Stadiums are built and renovated.  Transportation is critical to satisfy visitors.  It also carries a lot of prestige that is craved.

FIFA itself is a political entity with representatives around the world.  Almost every country around the world has a vote for such details as president and choosing sites.  

In 1972 Joao Havelange of Brazil was elected president.  One of the good things credited to him was to expel South Africa for its apartheid.  But two years after a military coup, Argentina hosted the 1978 World Cup and were victors.  

Sepp Blatter had been Secretary General and was able to take over when Joal retired.  It became evident that some federation presidents held more power than others.  A prime example was Jack Warner of Trinidad and Tobago who was head of CONCACAF that included Central American, North America and the Caribbean island, altogether 25 voters.  A surprising example of his power is that in 1990, Nelson Mandela in poor health felt compelled to fly to Trinidad to negotiate with Warner and partially as a result was able to have South Africa to host the World Cup.

Tied to Jack Warner is American Chuck Blazer.  The two men were able to siphon off lots of money for personal use.  Eventually Blazer was turned by the FBI who had learned that Blazer had not paid any income tax for several years.

The film doesn't spend too much time on the Russian selection, but seems obvious that Putin saw the World Cup as prestigious and would use his dictatorial power to get the necessary votes.

United States was favored for the 2022 games, but were up against an organized campaign for Qatar which caught everyone off guard.   It was noted that summertime temperatures were unacceptable.  A lot of concern for human rights history including with the LGBT community.  One detail was that French President Sarkozy was negotiating a jet sale to Qatar.  Qatar was able to gain most of the votes from Africa and CONCACAF.  Since then human rights experts have claimed that several thousands of guest workers had died.

Since the Qator decision, Blatter was forced out and temporarily replace by Jeffrey Webb of the  Cayman Islands, but his corruption soon became evident.  Michel Platini, famous French soccer player was thought to be a credible replacement, but he was implicated in a deal with Blatter.  Finally Gianni Infantino, from a neighboring town of Blatter's became the president.

With this background it is hard to overlook all the corruption.  For some of us it takes a bit of rational gymnastics to look forward to the actual World Cup games.  I am among those who plan and look forward to watch the games anyway. 

FIFA has promoted soccer to being the one top sport in the world.  Not only the World Cup itself, but initiated development programs in different parts of the world.  The move to South Africa did set a good example of how the prestige of World Cup to good ends.  The 2026 version will use three countries, one of which Mexico is already soccer mad and the other two Canada and United States that are growing in popularity.

The format is unique and only possible in such a popular sport.  For the 2022, after two years or so qualifying 32 teams are eligible.  They were split about 8 groups of 4 teams that had been determined by rankings and lottery.  The first game between host Qatar and Ecuador is on November 21st. and the final is December 18th.  With the third game of the first round the two games are played at the same time to prevent cheating to achieve a better pairing in the next round.  Teams are given rest between games.  The games are spread around several stadiums.   

I do feel guilty about ignoring the corruption and hope that this film and many investigations will rectify FIBA so that the hundreds of millions of fans can enjoy the game.  If you watch the series on Netflix or elsewhere you may decide differently and you will have my respect.

Earlier views of World Cup:  and

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