This World Cup was a cracker—an exhibition of excellence, a noble step in the struggle for gender equity—so let’s cancel the next one. In three years’ time, the men are scheduled to have their big tournament in Qatar. The men’s World Cup will be the very opposite of the thrilling spectacle just completed. It will be an authoritarian regime’s vulgar vanity project, allegedly made possible by massive corruption. According to human-rights groups, the effort to build stadiums in the desert, and the struggle against nature that construction entails, has already killed more than a thousand migrant workers.
The world needs to pressure FIFA, international soccer’s governing body, to back away from the moral debacle that is the Qatar World Cup and find a better use for the funds. If it had any sense of justice, FIFA would redirect those resources into the global women’s game, compensating for decades of systematic underinvestment and blatant misogyny.
Even in the middle of this Women’s World Cup, it’s been impossible to ignore the rank malfeasance of the Qatari project. The story dominated the Parisian broadsheets, when French officials detained Michel Platini, arguably the country’s greatest male player of all time. Platini was also the top European soccer official at the time Qatar won its World Cup bid, and authorities are investigating the possibility that his vote was improperly influenced. Anti-corruption investigators are especially keen to ask Platini about a meeting he held with French President Nicolas Sarkozy and Qatari officials. It’s alleged that Sarkozy wanted Platini to support the Gulf state’s bid in exchange for contracts for French companies.