World Cup Buzz

As the World Cup Finals approaches in Rio this summer; 32 teams are poised to start their month long run. The final friendly tune ups are taking place now. Rosters are being set. Starting June 12th, the tournament begins in a quest for one of the most coveted trophies in sports. 7 games to determine greatness in the soccer world.
I, however, would like to see this as the beginning of the buzz for the next two host countries. Mainly because I have problems with both countries as hosts for the biggest sports even in the world. I have a strong suspicion that I am not the only person who does. Not sure if Fédération Internationale de Football Association (FIFA), is willing to admit their mistake and do better. Especially since replacing a country is not an easy thing to do no matter how much time there is. The problem being almost to the level of international diplomacy.
First country I have issue with is Russia hosts of the World Cup in 2018. This year has been very unnerving for the Russia and it sports. Starting with President Vladimir Putin’s showcase at the Sochi Olympics. That farce has to be exposed for the multitude of problems with the host.
The first concern is the construction at the events. Even though they were completed on time; there were a multitude of residual problems. In the forefront were the hundreds of orphaned canines that were left to roam the streets of Sochi. It was just a microcosm of the problem with the Russian construction of the Olympic venues.
This is not a new problem. In Brazil there have been a multitude of construction problems as well. Not just normal delays but also problems with the sites being picketed. This could come to pass in Russia as well.
FIFA needs to establish lessons learned. These problems seem to happen with every World Cup. There is no reason for this.
The problems starting in the February / March time frame of this year with Ukraine is another concern. Now Russia has annexed Crimea. This blatant disregard for sovereignty of nations should be more alarming to FIFA.
Sports can be used as a political hot-button. But only when used correctly. In 1980, the United States and several other countries boycotted the Moscow Olympics. In 1984, Russia and several other communist nations did the same in boycotting the 1984 Los Angeles Olympics. But the only suffers were the athletes.
Next concern is if the athletes or nations boycott the World Cup 2018; it will not stop the games. It may highlight the problems. But those need to be tracked now. These are not just idle fears:
http://www.theguardian.com/world/2010/dec/03/world-cup-2018-russian-racism Written on 3 December 2010. Almost a decade before the games start. Will this still be a problem?
http://www.bbc.com/sport/0/football/24660581 Written on 25 October 2013. Still almost 5 years until the games. Can a change be made to ensure the security of the players?
If I was a hotel/resort owner in a country adjacent or close travelling distance to Russia; I would start offering countries alternatives to staying in Russia. Quality accommodations without surveillance. There should be serious reservations [pun intended and dual use] with staying in Russia. Not just the problems with being observed. But the very real security concerns.
Another of Russia’s concerns is racism. There is a real problem throughout Europe with not only racism but also ethnic slurs as well. These problems exist in Russia as well. Incidents have happened with their domestic clubs playing in the UEFA Champions League. There needs to be concerted effort to address these issues. Not just from a security standpoint. FIFA, Union of European Football Associations (UEFA), and the Russian Football Union all need to start addressing these issues with an out front marketing campaign.
Progress needs to be made by the time Russia hosts the Confederation Cup. The 2013 version held in Brazil was a bell-weather mark of the possible problems that may still arise this year. Construction on at least 6 venues must be done. But they need to have 10 ready for the tournament. The less tangible changes need to be in the Russian attitudes. Shall see what if any progress is made on these fronts.
The other country I have issue with is Qatar host of the World Cup in 2022. There are many of the main concerns in Qatar as in Russia. But one issue trumps them all.
In Qatar in the June and July time frame it is an average temperature is 100 Fahrenheit / 38 Celsius. This average can soar to highs of 120 Fahrenheit / 50 Celsius. That is an oppressive amount of heat to have to play 90- minutes of soccer in. If a game goes into overtime, it is more like heat exhaustion will be a more important factor than actual skill. Being able to keep players hydrated will become an even bigger concern than normal.
However there are more moderate seasons of fall and winter; temperatures average 41 Fahrenheit / 5 Celsius. That is a little chilly but not the worse playing weather. This alludes to the fact that there is likely a better time to actually hold the tournament. Some happy medium can be found. But sticking to the normal time frame will affect anyone playing how is not from the region. Giving the Arabian countries a distinct advantage.
The push back from domestic professional leagues will be part of the dilemma. There are not players at this level who only play for a national team. These players are also obligated to fulfill their professional contracts to their teams too.
The other side of that coin is; having a World Cup Champion player on your professional side is a great honor. And there are enough players who are not on the national team to continue domestic leagues without them. But this is a lesser product on the field.
Along with the racism issues above; Qatar is a majority Muslim country poses an additional problem. Will all countries be treated alike? There is the potential for mistreatment from the host country itself. This is in addition to the normal security concerns.
Also, what will be the status of female fans? There are many female soccer fans. They are often at matches in small outfits. Scantily clad women are one of the attractions of the World Cup.
Will Qatar be able to make progress on these potential problems? It remains to be seen. They have a lot longer than Russia. But these concerns are much deeper seeded. There would need to be a real change in the entire fabric of the whole country.
Some could argue I am jumping the gun; Brazil will have to work hard to pull off a successful tournament.
If ESPN would like some advice; I have many possible pieces for production prior to the World Cup starting. I think that the filler time will be crucial to progressing the sport. Especially in this country. But even in well established countries; there is the possibility to make a difference. Trying to bridge the gap between sports and good behavior. Hopefully there is some headway in this department. Let’s start talking.

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About drphlgoode

Just an Average Joe
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