While Thursday’s announcement that Qatar was getting the 2022 World Cup instead of the United States was disappointing, it’s not the end of the world.
First, it’s nice that FIFA president Sepp Blatter wants to win a Nobel Peace prize. Seriously. He’s made it a point of emphasis to bring the World Cup to different parts of the world (South Africa, Russia, Qatar), and that may land him the Nobel.
It doesn’t matter if that is what motivates Blatter, bringing the World Cup to new places is the right thing to do.
For those of us old enough to remember, there was quite an outcry when the United States was awarded the 1994 World Cup. Critics assailed the thought of soccer’s biggest showcase being in a country without a professional outdoor league.
But MLS was born out of that decision, and soccer has a firm, if not imposing, grip on the sports landscape here.
There’s no reason why the World Cup should be hosted by traditional soccer powers in Europe and South America every four years. For all the disgusting backroom arm-twisting and financial kickbacks associated with FIFA and how it picks a World Cup host (the British press was all over that -- and it may have hurt their bid for 2018), Blatter deserves praise for reaching out to these new markets.
Soccer is a global game, and it’s cool to see that the biggest sporting event in the world will be going from Europe (in 2006) to Africa (this year) to South America to Eastern Europe to the Middle East.
Of course, this aligns the United States to get the 2026 World Cup. There were rumors that China was interested in the ’26 World Cup, but FIFA won’t allow the World Cup to be played in the same continent in consecutive cycles.
It’ll be time for CONCACAF to play host, and OnGoal’s vice president of development David Ficklin is already champing at the bit. While disappointed about today’s result, he’s excited about the World Cup eventually coming to the United States, and he believes Kansas City will certainly be a host city one day.
With a new stadium set to open and talks about playing host to Gold Cup games next year, Sporting Kansas City’s owners truly believe they can make our fair city this nation’s soccer capital.
“We want to show people that Kansas City is the premier soccer destination in the country,” Ficklin said.
Who knows? By 2026, that may well be the case. And we may have the World Cup games in Kansas City to prove it.