Controversy continues to surround the 2018 World Cup in Russia and the 2022 version in Qatar ever since they were simultaneously awarded the hosting right in 2011, amid accusations of bribes, vote buying, and backhanders.
Last week brought a fresh evidence of the depths Russia’s odious sports system plumbed into in her subversive, secretive modern war on fair play. A report submitted by Canadian lawyer Richard McLaren exposed the extraordinary plots that saw more than 1,000 Russian athletes fed banned performance-enhancing drugs, with the subsequent doping tests tampered with or fabricated to foil the system.
While the narrative of Russian drug cheating has majorly revolved around the Paralympics and Olympics, both winter and summer, football among the 30 sports named. In the case of the “beautiful game of soccer,” the doping conspiracy involved a number of a Russian youth team, another unsavory example of how far the state has gone to facilitate cheating.
The Soviet Union, subsequently Russia, has long been using sports as a tool to promote its international image. Although It is not the only country to do so but being organized enough and rich enough to successfully host a global competition on the scale of a World Cup provides the kind of political chest-beating Vladimir Putin loves. Losing the chance to showcase the power, because your government supported a cheating blueprint on an unprecedented scale, is the sort of heavyweight embarrassment that can make a dent in the walls of the Kremlin.
Cheating aside, Russia has lost the privilege to be granted the benefit of the doubt and should not have been awarded the hosting right in the first place.
There were serious problems with the bid to start with, the Russian soccer is suffering from an ugly and lingering problem, a problem the voters in 2011 either decided or were paid to shun.
In truth, there are a number of competent countries that could stage a World Cup on brief notice. The global extravaganza requires nothing less than 10 world-class stadiums and sufficient travel and tourism infrastructure to cope with a huge influx of football loving fans.
France just hosted the European Championships and could do it. Brazil who hosted the World Cup two years ago hosted the Rio Olympics this summer and could do it again without breaking a sweat. Germany possesses the stadiums and the requisite infrastructure. So does Japan, England, China, Australia, and a host of other countries.