FIFA’s shock decision to hand the 2022 World Cup to Qatar was met with despair in Seoul, Sydney and Tokyo yesterday as months of campaigning ended in heartbreak and accusations of financial skullduggery.
Australia had high hopes for its bid to host the world’s biggest sporting event for the first time, while Japan and South Korea, joint hosts in 2002, put forward strong cases to hold the event independently.
However, after a furious final day of lobbying in Zurich, Switzerland, FIFA president Sepp Blatter announced on Thursday that Qatar had won out for 2022, stunning onlookers who queried the tiny Persian Gulf state’s searing heat and lack of soccer pedigree.
“Soccer is dead to me,” Jeremy Tom, 26, told reporters at a gathering of about 100 diehard Australian fans watching the vote on a big screen on the shores of Sydney Harbour in the middle of the night. “What a rort [scam]. Who goes to Qatar to watch the world game? It’s a joke.”
Football Federation Australia’s Jack Reilly said its bid had fallen victim to FIFA politics and Qatar’s deep pockets.
“The Qatar delegation have been pushing money around for a long period of time,” he said.
Qatar insisted that its bid had won on the merits of a bold proposal to build climate-controlled stadiums that will enable players and fans to be comfortable in its desert heat.
However, team leaders from Japan and South Korea also vented frustration at the event being handed to the Persian Gulf kingdom, which has never played in the World Cup.
“I don’t quite understand what factor is favorable,” Japan Football Association vice chairman Kuniya Daini said. “Maybe, it is meaningful to host it in the Middle East for the first time?”
The bidding race, which also saw Russia secure the 2018 tournament, was the most controversial in FIFA’s history with allegations of corruption against high-level soccer executives.
“Qatar, which has never qualified for the World Cup finals, had a weapon in its abundant financial resources based on oil money,” Japanese business daily Nikkei Shimbun said.
Japan had emphasized its bid with a US$6 billion plan to allow 360 million people worldwide to watch matches live in 3D telecasts at almost 400 specially selected stadiums across FIFA’s 208 member countries.
South Korea reached the third round of voting before being eliminated, with analysts suggesting it was too soon after Seoul co-hosted the 2002 tournament.
In their final presentation to FIFA delegates, South Korea’s bid team said hosting the World Cup would act as a gateway to reunification of the divided Korean Peninsula. The region is enduring the worst tensions in years after North Korea hurled a deadly artillery barrage onto a South Korean island last week.
“It seems as though the idea of giving the Middle East its first World Cup garnered a lot of votes [for Qatar],” the head of Seoul’s bid Han Sung-joo was quoted by South Korea’s Yonhap news agency as saying.
“Korean electronics companies should get ready for the bid to provide air conditioners to Qatar,” a South Korean netizen commentator said sarcastically.
SECURITY CONCERNS: The Telecom Technology Center ran black-box tests for the Executive Yuan on devices and software from Chinese, US and South Korean firms Network devices from several Chinese manufacturers are insecure and allow personal information to be leaked, testing commissioned by the Executive Yuan has shown. A variety of devices and software, including apps, from Chinese, US and South Korean manufacturers that are used by government agencies at the central and local level were subjected to black-box testing — in which the functionality of an application is examined without knowing about its internal structure, an information-security official said yesterday on condition of anonymity. The Telecom Technology Center conducted the tests, which simulated cyberattacks, to determine their resilience to the attacks, the official said. The center
Americans awoke yesterday to charred and glass-strewn streets in dozens of cities after another night of unrest fueled by rage over the mistreatment of African Americans at the hands of police, who responded to the violence with tear gas and rubber bullets. Tens of thousands marched peacefully through streets to protest the death of George Floyd, a black man who died on Monday last week after a white Minneapolis police officer pressed his knee on his neck until he stopped breathing. However, many demonstrations sank into chaos as night fell: Vehicles and businesses were torched. The words “I can’t breathe” were
The nation marked its 49th day with no new domestic COVID-19 cases yesterday, and there were no new imported cases, but that does not mean the Central Epidemic Command Center (CECC) can relax its attention, Minister of Health and Welfare Chen Shih-chung (陳時中), who heads the center, said yesterday in Tainan as he and a team of health officials wrapped up a weekend visit to the city. The visit is part of the center’s efforts to promote domestic travel under the “new disease prevention lifestyle.” Among the 442 confirmed cases, 423 have been released from isolation and 12 people remain hospitalized, Chen
EXTRA INVITATIONS: Russia, Australia, South Korea and India would be asked to a later summit dedicated to countering China, Donald Trump said US President Donald Trump has been forced to cancel a planned face-to-face summit of G7 leaders this month and now wants to host an expanded meeting in September dedicated to countering China to which Russian President Vladimir Putin would be invited. Trump on Saturday announced that he had canceled the June meeting, which he had billed as a symbol of the US “transitioning back to greatness,” after German Chancellor Angela Merkel told him in a telephone call that she saw the summit in Washington as a health risk. Hundreds of security staff, journalists and officials also attend the two-day summits. Reports suggest