The strange and unlikely route that led Qatar from oil-rich state sponsor of terrorism to World Cup 2022 host has gotten both stranger and more unlikely.
Four years after being awarded the World Cup, Qatar appears to be in danger of losing the global footie prize. As complaints have emerged about the horrendous working conditions for the laborers building its stadiums with low pay and roughly 1,000 worker deaths already on the books, charges of bribery have also blackened the image of both Qatar and FIFA, soccer's international governing body.
On Monday, FIFA Executive Committee member Theo Zwanziger cast the most serious doubts yet, saying that he doesn't believe that the World Cup will be played in Qatar. And not for any of the aforementioned reasons either. As Reuters reported, Zwanziger cited the heat as the reason:
I personally think that in the end the 2022 World Cup will not take place in Qatar. Medics say that they cannot accept responsibility with a World Cup taking place under these conditions."
So it was the weather and not the widespread use of slave labor that did it. http://t.co/0CLE8Kts0S— joshuafoust (@joshuafoust) September 22, 2014
He went onto to say that even if the stadiums are kept cool for the matches, the travel within Qatar will wreak havoc on both the fans and the players.
The most curious part about this statement is that it comes many years after Qatar was awarded its landmark hosting duties — the first for a Middle Eastern or Arab majority country. Suffice it to say, it was generally understood that Qatar is a hot country back in 2010 as well.
FIFA, for its part, hasn't clearly echoed or distanced itself from Zwanziger's comments yet:
FIFA says it will not respond to Qatar comments made by FIFA Executive Committee member Theo Zwanziger— darren rovell (@darrenrovell) September 22, 2014
In the coming days, perhaps we'll find out whether Zwanziger was laying the groundwork for FIFA's exit from Qatar, making a rogue statement, or if this development is a call for Qatar to either improve conditions or send FIFA more cash.