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Awarding World Cup to Qatar is insanity (Kestenbaum responds to Engel)

Dear Mr. Engel

I read your response to my blog on the insanity of the 2022 World Cup being awarded to Qatar.

Your response was well written, well thought out and quite compelling in some aspects. However, you have done a couple things that simply do not stand the test of scrutiny.

1. You totally discount the weather. Have you been to Qatar in June? I have. I played soccer there as long ago as 1980. Holding the event whether at noon or midnight makes little difference. It is brutally inhuman. And not just for the players. Ever try to sit for 2 hours in that heat and humidity? Oh, they decided to move the dates to...? December?

2. You seem to totally ignore the stunning waste of money the whole thing requires, even now 6 years in advance the construction is going crazy. Think of the millions of helpless Syrian refugees and then think of the sheer waste for billions by Qatar on stadiums for an event 6 years in the future. And the thousands of labourers you seem also to totally ignore? They are suffering and dying by the dozens in virtually slave labour conditions. Ever seen these work camps? I have MANY times. So we have Qatar wasting literally Billions of Dollars and using thousands of virtually slave labourers to – what? Build a half dozen 60,000 seat stadiums that will be used 4 or 5 times in 2 weeks and then – what? Mothballed? Torn down? Shipped to” Mali? Chad? Gambia? Where? How? Why?

3. You seem to completely ignore the issue of what tens of thousands of visitors will do before and after the matches – as my blog pointed out, What do they do?

4. You say Qatar represents an important demographic of the world fans. Yet the ideal situation would have been to engage the GCC as host, or at least Qatar and UAE – where there are stadiums, hotels, bars, airports, desert camping, beaches, theatres...But NO. Qatar had to do it all by its tiny self.

5. You yourself acknowledge that the WC has been held in Japan, Korea, S. Africa, Brazil (and Russia) since 2002. Hardly N. America and W. Europe domination, eh? So why make such a point if it is completely irrelevant and its demands already have been met?

6. You mention that Qatar is Wahabi Muslim. The Qataris have given refuge to the Muslim Brotherhood and funded billions to extreme violent Islamic terrorist groups such as Jebhat al Nusra and Jaish Al Islam – not the kind of Samba-dancing Brazilian-friendly Jihadis. Seriously even the Saudis (the REAL Wahabis) and UAE have withdrawn their Ambassadors in the past year because of Qatar support for these violent extremist Islamic groups. Mr. Engel, I have been involved with Qatar since 1979. I have yet to meet a US Ambassador, diplomat or business executive who can explain what the Qatari leadership is doing in the region to bring calm, peace and reduce conflict. Just the opposite. Ask James Dorsey to explain what the Qataris are doing. James, if you know, please tell us!

7. Finally and MOST IMPORTANT is the fact that the award was corrupted by bribery. Virtually the entire senior hierarchy of FIFA officials who had a voice in the voting process has been jailed or banned from any link to FIFA or Futbol. WHY? Because of bribery and corruption including and especially in the World Cup Bid Process. It is widely acknowledged now that most if not all WC Awards since 1994 (and perhaps well before that) has been corrupted by bribery and extortion. INCLUDING AND ESPECIALLY THE 2022 BID. Not to mention the fact that after the award, FIFA had to acknowledge that it is impossible to stage the 2022 cup in June/July and would have to be moved to Nov/Dec – NOT part of the bid criteria and clearly demanding a rebid based on now very different criteria.

I was expecting your rebuttal to my blog to be much more compelling. But it just repeated the same tired and discredited pap (no offense personally) about reaching out to the developing world, reducing Euro domination and sharing the WC with the world...I cannot even in honesty say “good try”. If that rebuttal was the best that Qatari sympathizers can offer, I stand fully confirmed. If Qatar is such a compelling venue, a rebid with just Qatar and US and Australia (top 3 finishers) should be quick, transparent and product the right, fair result.

Charley Kestenbaum

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