On 02 December 2010, FIFA awarded the hosting rights for the 2022 World Cup to the small natural gas rich nation of Qatar, an honour never bestowed upon a Middle Eastern country. But how did a country with little to no infrastructure in place to support the world’s most prestigious soccer event get chosen over other countriesseemingly more qualified? In this presentation, I will explore the controversial decision from a local, national and global business and political perspective. First, I present a brief history of how FIFA and the World Cup came to be.I’ll also talk about what criteria is needed to host the World Cup and how Qatar, Australia and the USA matched up against these. Next, I’ll examinethe business and political gains hosting a World Cup can generate in local, national and international areas for both the host nation and for FIFA.Finally, I’ll look at whether or not the political and financial benefits of Qatar hosting the World Cup should result in turning a blind ethical eye toward the alleged corruption and dishonesty within FIFA for the 2022 World Cup.
The Federation Internationale de Football Association is better known as FIFA. It was founded in 1904 in Paris, France as an administrative organisation that would assist with the development of Association Football, or soccer, on an international level. FIFA’s founding president, Jules Rimet, for whom the trophy for the FIFA World Cup is named, envisioned an international soccer competition based on the principles of ‘reinforcing the ideals of a permanent and real peace’that involved all of its member National Associations such as the Football Association in England, the French Football Federation and the Royal Belgian Football Association to name a few.Indeed, even today, FIFA’s slogan is: ‘For the Game. For the World.’ Rimet’s vision of international peace through soccer was set in motion with the first World Cup soccer competition held in 1930 in Montevideo, Uruguay. Although the majority of participating countries were from Europe, the decision to host the inaugural World Cup in South America was based On Uruguay’s exceptional performance and gold medal wins in soccer at both the 1924 Paris and 1928 Amsterdam Olympics.Riding the coattails of the Olympic Games’ reputation for instilling peace through sport was smart political thinking on the part of FIFA and helped to generate support from its member associations. In the early days of the FIFA World Cup, international travel was done via ship and could take up to three months to get from South America to Europe, depending on where the competition was held. Because of this, FIFA’s initial intent was to alternate the World Cupbetween Europe and the Americas. The 1934 and 1938 World Cup competitions were both held in Europe. The decision to hold the second of these in France was disputed, as the American countries were of the understanding that the location would alternate between the two continents. As a result, both Argentina and Uruguay boycotted the 1938 FIFA World Cup.The World Cup competition was not held during the 1940’s due to a small international conflict called World War II.It resumed again in 1958. So, to avoid future boycotts, FIFA returned to its initial rotation of holding the competition between Europe and the Americas.This pattern held true until the 2002 and 2010 World Cup competitions which were held in Asia and Africa respectively.The other big change was that these two locations were determined by the FIFA Executive Committee after initiating a bidding process. The winner was determined using an exhaustive ballot system of voting, meaning the voting keeps happening until an undisputed winner is found.
FIFA still aims to promote peace, ‘educational, cultural and humanitarian values’ through soccer, its selection criteria for determining a host nation has evolved quite drastically. From simply choosing a country based on how well it placed in the Olympics, FIFA now sends out an invitation to bid to its member associations in which it lists its selection criteria. The invitation states specifically ‘At this stage of the bidding process, FIFA would like to emphasise that the infrastructure and facilities in the host country must be of the highest quality... Approximately 12 stadiums with minimum capacities of between 40,000 for group matches and 80,000 for the opening match and final are required...’No only that, but FIFA also stipulates that the host country have ‘the very highest standards of TV broadcasting, information and communication telecommunications technology, transport and accommodation...’ as an absolute must.At the time the invitation was sent out, Qatar had only 10 stadiums fit for soccer use, with average seating for only just under 22,000; the smallest holding only 5,000 and the largest having a capacity to seat 50,000. This obviously fell well short of FIFA’s criteria.With respect to broadcasting capabilities, Qatar, at the time of its bid, once again fell way short of these benchmarks whereas both Australia and the USA hit the mark on all counts AND had prior experience in hosting the Olympics, a comparable global sporting event.The USA also had experience in hosting both the men’s World Cup in 1994 and the women’s World Cup in both 1999 and 2003, the latter coming at extremely short notice due to the SARS epidemic.To add a further disadvantage for Qatar, not only did their existing soccer infrastructure not meet the bidding criteria, other concerns about hosting the world’s biggest soccer event in the Middle Eastern country soon came to light. The FIFA World Cup is traditionally held during the months of June and July – the off season for professional soccer in most countries. For Qatar, designated a ‘subtropical dry, hot desert climate’, temperatures can reach well above 40o C during these months.Concern for the athletes’ health and safety during match play in temperatures such as this were soon voiced as a concern, especially for clubs who pay millions of dollars for top players such as Barcelona and Argentinean international star Lionel Messi.The same extreme summer heat concerns cannot be said for the USA as there are suitable venues in cooler climates as proven during the 1994, 1999 and 2003 World Cups.Should Australia have been chosen to host the World Cup, it would have done so during its winter. This, however, did not pose a problem for hosting the 2000 Summer Olympic Games in Sydney, which were held at the end of the Australian winter.
Qatar, nor the USA and Australia for that matter, is struggling financially as a country. Qatar has been listed as the world’s richest country per-capita (population 1.7 million), with an economic growth projected to be 15.8 percent. The estimated growth for its gross domestic product is 16.2 percent by the end of 2010. Qatar’s wealth stems from its natural gas resources, which are the third largest in the world. This has given Qatar a seemingly endless cash flow to support its ever increasing interest in sport, to include Formula One racing, golf and athletics.In today’s global political climate,Gulf States such as Qatar use sport as a means of diplomacy. This might be due to the fact that the region’s political reputation as a whole is somewhat dubious in the eyes of the Western, non-Arabic world.Purchasing sponsorship in top flight soccer leagues such as Germany’s Bundesliga or the English Premier League allows Gulf State Leaders to obtain respectability as heads of state.How far will Qatar go to earn respectability on a global level? Over the next five years, it will spend $225 billion USD, or over 40 percent of its national budget, on improvements to its infrastructure. This includes money allocated for new and improved roads, a new international airport and deepwater seaport, hotels, and new soccer arenas that meet FIFA hosting standards.Spending money on its infrastructure will likely make its way from an international scope down o a local one as the increase in spending will positively influence the employment rate and assist local and national businesses. The benefits will come back to an international level as these improvements will see an increase in global tourism – certainly for the World Cup, but in Qatar’s eyes for the foreseeable future. As far as looking at this from a national perspective, one can argue that the estimated $65 billion USD Qatar is spending on its preparations for the World Cupcan be invested in other areas of its infrastructure with a greater return for the general public.However, Qatar’s ambition to be at the forefront of world sporting events is reaching epic proportions and drawing the attention of international businesses, specifically those experienced in development and construction. For example, Mercury Engineering, an Irish mechanical and electrical engineering company, developed the zero-emission cooling system built for the Doha 2022 Showcase Stadium shown to FIFA executives. This system helped convince FIFA that the 40C plus heat Qatar typically has during summer could be dealt with.Not only has the prospect of hosting the World Cupbrought Qatar technological clout, albeit through an Irish company, it will also aid to further promote Qatar as a positive role model within the Middle East region. Qatar is often viewed as regional mediator and catalyst for change. With all the sweeping political changes occurring in the Middle East at the moment, Qatar seems poised to stand as its crowning jewel. Being labelled as a cheat would undoubtedly strike a blow Qatar’s morale bring more mistrust in a region whose image already struggles in the eyes of the West culturally, politically and from a business perspective.
Whether or not Qatar, or any other country bidding for the right to host the World Cup, played dirty is actually irrelevant as compared to how FIFA allegedly conducted itself.FIFA has certainly come a long way from the administrative organisation founded to standardise and develop the game on a global level. It has now taken ‘development’ to a whole new level and indirectly presents itself as a vehicle for political change through the sport of soccer. Or does it? FIFA is registered in Switzerland as a non-profit organisation. But there is no denying that it relies heavily on the big business of capitalism. Complete with its own Marketing, Television (TV) and Media Departments, the FIFA brand has truly reached an international business status on par with other global giants like Coca-Cola, Adidas, McDonald’s, Hyundai and Sony – all of whom also happen to be part of the FIFA ‘sponsorship family’.For the South Africa 2010 World Cup alone, FIFA took in an astonishing profit of 1.6 billion euros in Broadcasting rights, with similar numbers produced by their Marketing department. But does FIFA, the non-profit organisation, need to adhere to business ethics that other international companies do, or any business ethics at all for that matter? The logical answer would be yes as, despite its non-profit status it is still, in the true definition of the word, a business. Several years ago, the United Nations established Global Compact Principles for businesses to follow. In 2005, the it added a tenth principle addressing corruption.Who is FIFA’s ethical watchdog? Is it done from within? Although it has a code of ethics, there is no one to police its policies except for FIFA itself. This violates the first rule in ethical business practices: honest handling of actual or apparent conflicts of interest.While FIFA has a code of ethics, or rules to work by, rules are most influential when they cause people to behave differently than they would have if no rules were present. It is fair to say that the accusations of a breach in ethical business conduct thrown at FIFA over the decision to allow Qatar to host the 2022 World Cup casts a shadow on the value of its own business ethics policies.
That being said, has FIFA displayed dishonest behaviour when it comes to its core values?I say no as FIFA is still holding true to the principle of its World Cup founding father’s charter: To instil and reinforce the ideals of a permanent and real peace through soccer on an international level.No matter where the tournament is held, there is arguably an atmosphere of harmony during each game – even when Argentina play England!Although FIFA’s own investigation into foul play within its ranks named two of its own guilty of unethical practices, this does not mean that FIFA’s code of ethics should be tossed out. Rules have and will continue to provide guidelines for conduct.Perhaps a better question would be: Should the process of deciding a World Cup be reviewed? That answer is more likely yes.As for Qatar, the lapse in ethical values for ‘buying’ respectability is of course a concern. While Qatar didn’t need to host the World Cupfor financial purposes, hosting it has brought prestige to a region long short of it, especially after the events of 9/11.The road taken by FIFA to get to its decision might have been marred by corruption, but the end may very well justify the means if the Qatar World CupTM2022is played without incident. Most often, the right thing to do ethically is also the right thing to do politically and economically. Business decisions are often more than two dimensional (i.e. ‘right or wrong’). FIFA’s decision to have Qatar host the world’s most prestigious tournament was made based on its creed to develop the game ‘for the world’.
Qatar’s Slick Goal
Qatar’s Slick Goal www.bi-me.comKath St. LaurentBusiness, Politics & Sport 7977BPS2011
Objectives• Introduction• FIFA and World Cup History• Bidding Criteria• Business & Political Gains• Business Ethics• Conclusion
Introduction• The World CupTM ▫ What is it? ▫ Who should get to host it? ▫ Why would you want to? www.english.aljazeera.net FIFA Host Nation ▫ Qatar? Honestly?
History• FIFA• The World CupTM www.world-cup-info.com
Bidding Criteria• Bidding Process www.cylonsky.blogspot.com• Infrastructure & Facilities ▫ Broadcasting• Host Nation? ▫ Qatar v Australia v USA Stadiums Experience Weather www.thecleanfreak.wordpress.com
Business & Political Gains• Qatar ▫ Financial Statistics ▫ Diplomacy & Respectability ▫ Spending ▫ Impacts www.funzug.com
Business Ethics• FIFA as a Business• The United Nations Stance• Good Ethical Practices www.hoteliermiddleeast.com