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Games galore

The 2022 World Cup of football has been shifted to winter in a sensational departure from custom so it can be held in Qatar.

Statesman News Service | New Delhi |


Given what has befallen the postponed Tokyo Olympics, which a pandemic-stricken world may or may not get to see next year, it is hardly a surprise that Qatar’s joining the fray for the 2032 edition has caused no significant global notetaking.

Even the fact that India is in the race for it has not fuelled any spontaneous media combustion in this land, with seemingly everyone sweetly comforted by the length of time separating us from the year of the quadrennial event. And, of course, Covid-19 tops all kinds of thinking.

The International Olympic Committee is surely tickled pink, as much because Qatar has a pretty deep pocket as by the absence of any major expression of an international curiosity about why and how the West Asian country gets whatever it wants.

It doesn’t boast a rich sporting history and all its showpiece projects spawn controversies, sometimes well before the first bit of action in a star-spangled competition, but international high-ups are not even embarrased to be seen and heard as being its apologists or spokespersons, paid or not.

When Qatar hosted top-level athletics, athletes up against the stifling, searing heat of the desert struggled pitiably, with some of them collapsing. The 2022 World Cup of football has been shifted to winter in a sensational departure from custom so it can be held in Qatar.

Not entirely without reason, perhaps, have allegations been aired that Doha bribed influential officials in Fifa to swing things their way, though denials were prompt and categorical. How Qatar has dealt with the immigrant labour force that works to make its World Cup dream a reality is another area of darkness, with institutions like Amnesty International talking of inhuman conditions and brutal, impermeably insensitive everyday treatment of people whose aspirations crumble to pieces almost as soon as they fetch up in the country.

The story, gone back to repeatedly by the Western media, will almost certainly repeat itself with additional illustrations of grimness ~ the new target being the world’s supreme sport spectacle ~ if the Olympics come to be gifted to the country.

And there actually is not much that the world can do about it because it has, almost imperceptibly, allowed organisations like the IOC and Fifa to claim a position of power and authority that governments stop short of challenging. Incredible but true.

Fifa, of course, has in the none too distant past been laid low by the US revenue department with dramatic raids on Swiss hotels where top football officials with low track records were lodged but that only reflected America’s reluctance to be cheated of cash ~ and little besides.

The IOC too has been put in the dock, grilled and operated on surgically with excisions following it but the malaise could not be got rid of. The rub is there, with the lords of the ring.