SPORTS

Opinion: Foul Play?

The faces of the voters said it all prior to the FIFA gala in Zurich Thursday morning.

They all knew something ‘expected, but unexpected’ was about to happen. 

Like maybe, perhaps, foul play? It smelled and looked bad, fishy from beginning to end. I’ll tell you why, to the point, bluntly -- René Romano style.

Because the hosts for the 2018 and 2022 World Cups are, surprisingly, not England nor the United States but instead Russia and Qatar. Even though they had the most impressive presentations -- on paper, anyway -- they lost.

Strange, right?

Not really, when you consider and realize that World Football is not just a sport nowadays, but a proven business. A profitable one.

The World Cup is a marvelous investment.

Without Presidents Clinton and Obama, and David Beckham or Landon Donovan, behind them to worry about, Russia and Qatar can now take the world by storm in seconds. And backed by a smiling business man like Blatter and his ‘crew,’ they can now plan on tripling their investment just as they did in Germany did in 2006.

This is about money, and not sports.

Had the choices been made in the best interests of fútbol,the Cup would have gone back in 2018 to where the sport was actually born, in England. And in 2022, it could have promoted the sport in the United States, where a second Cup could seal the deal with the fans who ignore “The world’s sport’ and indulge in basketball, the NFL Football and baseball instead.

Further, this is a horrible reflection of how Blatter and his people are handling the business. And no, this cannot and will not cover up the accusations of corruption and favoritism under which FIFA is currently hiding.

And while both bids have proven successful, both have considerable and incredible drawbacks.
Russia's size means traveling between games for both teams and supporters is likely to be time-consuming, like it was in South Africa, while the heat in Qatar can reach temperatures of 50 degrees (Celsius) in World Cup months.

The world is clearly upside down. It’s corporate comfort over talent and capacity.
And while Russia’s Cup promises to be a post-war balsam of ‘joy,’ politically speaking, I have to say that the fact that officials bestowed the honor on Qatar — a country with little soccer success, little soccer infrastructure and a footprint smaller than my beloved Guatemala -- illustrates the sport's huge ‘economic promise.’

René Romano is a writer for Fox News Deportes.

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