Soccer….Family Style

Qatar? You Must Be Joking.
December 3, 2010, 4:03 am
Filed under: Uncategorized | Tags: , ,

I am not happy. And when Mama ain’t happy…..we must be going to Qatar.

I was so excited for the announcement from FIFA this morning. I thought that the earning potential for the US hosting would be a slam dunk. Then I woke up hearing my son getting up. My son that my husband was supposed to take so I could start writing this post in the morning. Note to self: three year olds do NOT understand the gravity of FIFA Decision Day. So I’m juggling getting him ready, me ready, cursing ESPN for talking about basketball all morning, and waiting. And waiting. FIFA started 40 minutes late. Would’ve helped me to know that ahead of time, so I could have dropped him off and had some peace.

So I finally gave up waiting for FIFA when? About 7 minutes before they announced. I was less than two miles from my house and I saw that Russia got 2018 on Twitter and I called my fellow Des Moines American Outlaw Corey so I could get audio and not be alone in my car with a three year old when I heard. So I heard it, through the phone, and didn’t really believe it until I heard Corey’s expletive commentary. Qatar. Really.

All I know about Qatar is from one of my soccer travel buddies, Brock. You’ve seen him on TV. He’s one of those guys that wear the 9/11 Eagle shirts. We had a contest in South Africa to see who could score more media whore points. Trust me, if you’re reading this blog, you’ve probably seen him. His day job is building the Doha Airport. And he reports via Facebook about the project and the culture. It’s nothing revolutionary. Mostly his reports were about how bazaar it is to need a permit for alcohol.

I’m trying to tell myself that I’ll be 50 and won’t care as much about drinking. But I think that’s a bunch of crap, of course I’ll still care about drinking. And about being a woman with rights. And a Jew. It wasn’t as much fun going to games in Nuremberg. It was a little creepy, and I have a feeling that I’ll be watching my back and not ever really comfortable. When we flew through Dubai on the way to South Africa, we took a cab around the city…a ladies cab. They have separate cabs that women can go in. I think Qatar is going to be a big cultural shift for most soccer fans.

Once I got off the phone with Corey, I called Chad, another Des Moines soccer fan that typically has some good analysis. He started rattling off stats to me: Qatar is 4416 square miles. Think about that number. See if this helps: Iowa is 56276 square miles. Connecticut is 5543 square miles. The 2nd largest city in Qatar is SMALLER than the Des Moines metro area.

I think it’s irresponsible to build infrastructure to support a World Cup in a country that size. I understand that they’ll pack up stadiums and ship them around the world, but what about the hotels? After sleeping in many, many Korean “love hotels,” it scares me to think what will be called into housing in Qatar.

And air conditioning a field? I believe that technology exists, but do we have any business using it for something like this in an age when we should be cutting energy consumption?  I can’t see how that’s going to be a green thing…air conditioning the outdoors.

Finally, this is personal for me. Qatar will, G-d willing, be my 8th consecutive men’s World Cup. Not going is not an option. The expense comparison for England/USA and Russia/Qatar is huge. There goes the college fund. People were joking with me today about inspiring my children to play in 2022/23 and 2026/27. I’m going to have to, because those kids are going to need some serious scholarship money.


Go USA Bid!
December 2, 2010, 3:37 am
Filed under: FIFA, US Soccer | Tags: , ,

I hadn’t really paid too much attention to the bidding process until today. I have a store to run and kids to raise. And I figured it was a done deal…who could turn down the financial benefits of the US hosting the World Cup? I can’t say I was too happy about it. I go to the World Cup to see the world, not a bunch of stadiums I already go to. I was grumbling about how lame it would be…traveling around in a rented RV or something.

Then today people started talking about Qatar possibly having the votes, and my US Soccer pride kicked in as fast as you can say “Do they even serve alcohol in Qatar?” FIFA, are we really going to say, in the age of global warming, that it’s OK to air condition entire fields and fan viewing areas? A World Cup in the middle of a dry dessert….OK, it’s funny to say that now, but trust me, no one actually wants to do that. And I know this is on a personal note, but Qatar hosting means I’ll hear years of Brock Kwiatkowsky calling it “Cutter.” You’ll have to trust me, FIFA. The answer to the Qatar question is “seek happiness elsewhere.”

The US should host the World Cup. I am a soccer fan because the cup was here in 1994. I had been to one game in 1993 and then slammed right into the 1994 World Cup games in Chicago. I thought it was the most amazing thing I’d ever seen, and I never wanted to miss another World Cup, and so far, I haven’t. I pray that in the next 12 years, America figures out that soccer is the greatest sport in the world, and we won’t need hosting to convert the masses, but just in case…let the US host and I’ll gladly spend all summer converting ordinary Americans into Ultra Fans.

We have huge stadiums that will sell out. We have the hotels. Not the “Love Hotels” like in Korea…real hotels in every price range. And we have lots and lots of people who want to see World Cup soccer. Remember South Africa? I was looking forward to a nice, intimate group of Americans, but noooo….we were the second highest attended national after South Africa. Those people and many, many more will flood stadiums across the US.

It will be epic. Americans will embrace soccer wholeheartedly. Brad Janovich will no longer be so misunderstood. US Soccer will have to institute a ticketing ranking system to ensure that the people who have followed them all over the world for the previous 28 years will be guaranteed tickets (you guys taking notes on this?) In short, it will be what we soccer fans have waited for, soccer hitting the tipping point in America’s mainstream.

So now, six and a half hours from the decision. I’m going to try (finally) to get some sleep. But I’ll have dreams of Sepp Blatter announcing “and in 2022, the FIFA World Cup goes to……the United States of America. GO USA BID.

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