Backman: What can stop Saudi Arabia from the 2030 World Cup? The sponsors and the money are in Asia, but a race-changing Fifa can court the West

Qatar 2022 – Saudi Arabia 2030? Yle Sporten is going home from Qatar and it is time to look ahead. What can stop us from another problematic World Cup in the Middle East? Our hope lies in Fifa’s hands.

A week in Doha has just whizzed by in a jumble of colorful jerseys and euphoric fans.

The lasting impressions?

Above all: That Qatar got what they wanted. Carnival atmosphere in abundance. The PR disaster that Amnesty’s Frank Johansson and Bollförbundet’s chairman Ari Lahti talked about in A-studio on Tuesday applies mostly to the western countries.

Fifa gets more of its revenue through sponsors in Asia and many of the fans in attendance only care about football. Most people around the world shrug their shoulders because the captains of some Western European countries are banned from wearing rainbow armbands.

The tie debacle was almost an own goal at home. The players were criticized for lacking backbone and the German Confederation lost a major sponsor resulting.

For confederations in the rest of the world, it is often more important that Fifa make a record score with the World Cup in Qatar and brings in approximately 7.5 billion euros, which is more than expected. Fifa has thus earned five million per day, every day during the four-year World Cup cycle.

This means more aid money for football investments around the world. This means that Fifa president Gianni Infantino’s popularity is strengthened in the wider field.

Salem Al-Dawsari heitättä voltin maalinsa achterten.
Caption
Saudi Arabia can play football, it is important in view of 2030.

Image: Clive Brunskill/Getty Images

Have executed 17 people in two weeks

The judgment about the Middle East’s lack of football knowledge and culture is also incorrect. Saudi Arabia shocked the entire football world on Tuesday and the pressure in the stands was one of the most powerful I have experienced in a football arena.

The Saudis would like to keep up the pressure on the stands, preferably at home during the 2030 World Cup.

– It is challenging, but would put us on the map. We have to take up the fight with the big boys. Wish us luck! said supporter Arwa Ashkandi to Yle Sporten.

The 2030 host is to be decided in two years’ time and Saudi Arabia is expected to submit a joint bid along with Egypt and Greece shortly after the World Cup final on 18 December.

What can stop us from another problematic championship in the Middle East? Bizarrely, we can hope for a new turnaround within Fifa

Tuesday’s sensational victory gives the bid new weight. Saudi Arabia has achieved a new kind of sporting legitimacy that Qatar lacks. The Qataris lost against Ecuador and large sections of the stands gaped empty during the second half as the home fans had enough.

The neighboring countries still have much in common, such as problems with human rights.

At the same time as the Saudi players loaded up for the World Cup premiere the regime took the opportunity to execute 17 peoplemany for drug offenses, all for non-violent misdemeanors.

The so-called kafala system, which exploits migrant workers, is also widespread in Saudi Arabia.

What can stop us from another problematic championship in the Middle East? Bizarrely, we can hope for a new turnaround within Fifa.

Infantino’s crazy babble at the press conference before the start of the World Cup made big headlines. A sentence that didn’t get the most visibility is very important in this context:

– If you want to criticize, you shouldn’t turn to players or coaches. You can crucify me, that’s why I’m here. Criticize no one else. Don’t criticize Qatar, Infantino said.

Infantino has followed in the footsteps of his compatriot Sepp Blatter. He defends Fifa’s decision to his last breath, no matter how morally problematic and preposterous it looks. The attitude seems to come with the chairmanship.

It is only later that the truth seeps out. Before the WC told Blatter what he “really” thinks about the WC, if you choose to trust his word.

Courtships towards the West to wait

A low oddsr is that Infantino intends to propose to the West next. The World Cup will be held in the USA, Mexico and Canada in 2026 and then rainbow bandages will be less of a problem.

We must also remember that the World Cup in Qatar and Russia were decisions made before Infantino took the Fifa throne. He inherited the championships, along with the rest of Fifa’s scumbag.

Ari Lahti is happy to speak warmly of all the positive changes that have occurred during Infantino’s time at the post. Fifa has new rules on openness and demands on future host nations.

The document clearly states that the World Cup must be organized in accordance with human rights. There is also a requirement that the workers be treated fairly. An independent review committee must determine whether potential host nations meet the requirements, otherwise they may be rejected.

Gianni Infantino in the press gallery.
Caption
Gianni Infantino has thrived with problematic people. On the left is Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, on the right is Russia’s ruler Vladimir Putin.

Image: ullstein image/ All Over Press

The trio led by the USA was awarded the World Cup under the new Fifa, when, among others, Morocco was knocked out.

What speaks against permanent change is that the United Arab Emirates – where the kafala system is also widespread – was awarded the Club World Cup after the rule changes.

Infantino, who last week said that the World Cup can even be arranged in North Koreaalso enjoys the company of Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman and sat next to him at the World Cup premiere.

It is of course not Infantino who decides where the World Cup will end up, but the chairman’s influence within the organization should not be underestimated. After Infantino’s takeover, he has increased his power by firing critics and appointing loyalists to various committees.

We will see in the coming years. Then Fifa will show its cards and we will see how dark the future of sports looks.

Jari Litmanen in Arab headdress

While we point fingers and criticize, it is also good to know the responsibility of the West for what is happening.

The kafala system is a British export during the country’s colonial period and Finland opened a new embassy in Doha last year. We would like to strengthen our trade ties with the country.

We should also remember Jari Litmanen speaking warmly of Qatar in an Arab headdress when we criticize the European captains because a rainbow bracelet was not worth a yellow card.

Litmanen still does not understand that he helped Qatar in the country’s sports washing mission.

Denmark, which during the World Cup was not allowed to wear training shirts with the text “human rights for all”, contributed to the negative development by voting for Sepp Blatter in the FIFA presidential election in 1998 and for Michel Platini in the UEFA presidential election in 2007.

Both times the opponent’s name was Lennart Johansson and he campaigned for a clean football world.

In the coming years, there will still be healthier winds blowing in the sports world.

The Women’s World Cup in soccer will take place next year in Australia/New Zealand. The 2024 Summer Olympics will be held in Paris, the 2026 Winter Olympics in Milan, the 2026 Men’s World Cup in North America and the 2028 Summer Olympics in Los Angeles. Japan and the USA are fighting for the 2030 Winter Olympics (the loser will get the 2034 Games) and the 2032 Summer Olympics will be held in Brisbane.

There is still hope that democratic values ​​can gain greater impact and visibility in sport.

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