Amid controversy regarding corruption in the voting process and inhumane treatment of migrant workers, Qatar was awarded the 2022 FIFA World Cup bid. However, high-ranking FIFA committee member Theo Zwanziger told German publication Sports Bild on Monday: “I personally think that in the end the 2022 World Cup will not take place in Qatar.”

Despite all the negative publicity surrounding Qatar winning the bid, it is not the controversy that Zwanziger cites as the reason Qatar would lose the bid, but rather the extreme heat of the Qatari summer. With temperatures ranging from 100 to 117 degrees, supporters travelling across the world to see their teams play would have to deal with the scorching heat, which might lower attendance.

There are a litany of reasons why Qatar should not host the World Cup, including the disparity between the quality of the Qatari national team and the teams it would be eliminating by receiving an automatic bid. As long as its bid is rescinded, many will see it as an act of justice. And regardless of how Qatar loses it bid, there are several countries more fit to host, including the United States.

When the United States hosted in 1994, many had their doubts about the turnout, as soccer had just begun to draw fans in America. However, the United States would prove more than fit to host because of top-quality stadiums in very tourist-friendly areas, such as the Rose Bowl in Pasadena, Calif. and RFK Memorial in D.C. It also produced a record turnout, with a total of 3,587,538 spectators. That figure does not even include the thousands who came to support their countries outside of the stadiums or at viewing parties.

If the United States produced a record turnout in 1994, even before Major League Soccer officially began play 1995, the rise in soccer’s popularity since then would be evident if the U.S. hosted in 2022, considering the tremendous TV ratings the 2014 World Cup had in American homes, with U.S. group stage matches garnering higher ratings than the NBA Finals. As it is, the popularity of soccer in America is already booming, with easily accessible English Premier League games via NBC and ESPN, leading to a 13.3 million increase in total viewership from 2012-2013, up to 31.5 million for the 2013-2014 season.

An even more impressive statistic is that those sharp increases were before the Stars and Stripes’ exhilarating World Cup run, a run that has already brought more viewership to the MLS and will undoubtedly increase viewership of the major European leagues during the young current season.

If FIFA learned anything from the 1994 World Cup, it will see the United States as a way to not just give the world a record-breaking and less controversial World Cup, but to end the idea that Americans are inferior in skill and indifferent in support of soccer. As one of the premier powers in the world in almost every other sport, the United States’ shortcomings in player development are laughable.

Over the past two World Cups, Americans have certainly had a lot to cheer for, but the national team has never dominated outside of North American competitions, unlike USA Basketball, which just won another worldwide tournament this summer.

Hosting a World Cup in 2022 would undoubtedly cause a shift toward more substantial funding of the MLS and soccer developmental programs for all ages across the United States. Just as important would be the spike in tourism revenue for the overall economy. To me, the choice is clear. In recent years, FIFA has been mocked for its corruption and for valuing money over the love of the game.

Russia’s 2018 bid acceptance is just as controversial as Qatar’s, with rumors of bribery of FIFA officials and evidence of widespread mistreatment of immigrant workers souring the preparations for the tournament. With the next iteration of the tournament just four short years away, it is likely too late to take the month-long competition away from Moscow. It is not too late, on the other hand, to take the World Cup hosting duties from Qatar, if the decision is made soon.

FIFA taking away Qatar’s bid and giving it to the U.S. would speak to the organization’s willingness to acknowledge its mistakes for the betterment of the game. It would also continue the expansion of the world’s most popular sport in one of the world’s largest markets.
On a very selfish level, a World Cup in America would undoubtedly have a long-lasting positive impact on the quality of the United States Men’s National Soccer Team. But who knows, if soccer continues to grow in popularity at the rate it is now, the USMNT could very well hoist the coveted golden trophy on its home turf in 2022.

Paolo Santamaria is a freshman in the College. Saxa Synergy appears every other Friday.

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