News24

Obama: Qatar 'wrong decision'

2010-12-02 21:37

Washington - US President Barack Obama said FIFA made the "wrong decision" on Thursday when selecting Qatar over an American bid to host the 2022 World Cup in what will be a major setback for football in America.

"I think it was the wrong decision," Obama said at the White House, joining thousands of disappointed Americans who watched the announcement from Zurich, where a video message from him had been part of the US presentation.

"Obviously we're very disappointed. To come up short is very difficult to take," said US Soccer Federation president Sunil Gulati, who called the defeat "a setback in moving the sport forward" in a long-skeptical US market.

"(Hosting in 2022) was the equivalent of putting your foot on the accelerator. From that point it's an opportunity lost. Will we get there? I'm confident we will. It's going to take longer. It's going to take more work."

It was the second major sport bid loss for Americans in as many years. Obama attended last year's International Olympic Committee vote on the 2016 Summer Games site when his hometown, Chicago, was ousted on the first ballot.

Only minutes after Qatar was announced as FIFA's choice for 2022, frustrated US supporters vented their feelings on US Soccer's Twitter site.

"Gutted", "USA Soccer is set back another 20 years" and "Qatar? Wow. Soccer actually just got less relevant in the US" were among the shocked reactions.

In the wake of a recent FIFA bribery allegations, fans were less than thrilled about losing the chance to host for the second time.

"Qatar? Time to stop playing along. They can come to us when they want us to care about soccer again. They can bribe us next time," tweeted one angry fan.

In 1994, the US World Cup set a record by selling 3,587,538 tickets for 52 matches and sparked the launch of Major League Soccer, which has survived for 15 years and lured England star David Beckham to play in Los Angeles.

The MLS website featured several posts along the lines of "FIFA=corruption" and "If anyone needed confirmation that the whole process is rigged, there ya go".

US television commentators played up the heat projections and relatively small land area for Qatar and quickly relegated coverage of the World Cup selection behind basketball and American football.

Alexi Lalas, a former US star who handled commentary on ESPN's US telecast of the FIFA announcement, brought up the idea that Qatar might need a backup host site only moments after the choice was revealed.

"If Qatar can't do it, it's coming right to the United States," he said. "The United States is waiting in the wings."

The United States acted as a fill-in host for the 2003 Women's World Cup after planned host China was struck by a SARS epidemic.

Lalas guarded against US fans becoming too downcast.

"The sky is not falling," he said. "You dust yourself up. Onward and upward. It has never been an easy road for US Soccer. This just continues that."

Tweeters were not as optimistic about the future of football in America.

"Enough with how much USA Soccer matters. When you lose the World Cup bid to friggin' Qatar, trust me, it means nothing," posted one US fan.

"That is why soccer will never grow into a huge sport in the USA. Not even FIFA cares about usa soccer," wrote another.

Gulati wanted more time to ponder whether or not US Soccer would consider a bid for 2026 and was circumspect about the politics of FIFA's decision.

"There were reports of some alliances. The numbers would seem to bear that out," Gulati said.

"It's politics. It's friendships and relationships. It's tactics. There are far too many permutations. I'm not smart enough to figure out how all those things played out. I don't know the rationale of all the voters."

AFP

Comments
  • Player23 - 2010-12-02 22:36

    Breaking news!! Qatar has been reported to have "weapons of mass soccer celebration". These weapons have been joinly created by Al Qatar "linked,the associated, touched, attached, conjoined, hooked, identified and related" (and every other word that America and England use to invade countries) Russia. America and England will shortly send its forces.

      Zee - 2010-12-03 16:19

      Haha - well said!

  • kingluc - 2010-12-03 06:47

    Jeez, such bitter losers, USA, you've had it once before, why get so angry because they let somebody else have a chance? Bad losers...

  • neddy - 2010-12-03 07:16

    fifa is a gangster racket, its got nothing to do with the soccer or the country involved if you consider that the money involved in sponserships etc runs into the billions. just take a look at blatter

      Dusshantha - 2010-12-03 09:05

      To Neddy - It has nothing to do with money. How can you justify giving a world cup to a country that hosted it only 4 world cups ago.... are they no other countries in this world besides the USA??? If that was the attitude of FIFA then SA would not have been given the rights to host 2010 WC. Good on FIFA for taking soccer to the world.... not only the Americas!

  • StoneThrower - 2010-12-03 08:43

    So Obama, it’s a wrong decision that Qatar was given the right to host the WC and NOT USA??? Each actual it was through a voting system... so since when has a fair, free and democratically voting system produce a wrong decision. So I guess you being democraticllay voted as the USA President was a ": wrong decision" I’m disappointed OBAMA>> such a sour loser

  • Bosj - 2010-12-03 08:48

    Remember the days when IBM used to be the standard brand. Now you have "made in taiwan" that works perfectly. Remember the days when only Europe could host the World Cup, now Africa hosted it, and now is middle east will be doing the same. Get used to competition folks.

  • Matt Leisegang - 2010-12-03 08:55

    Fifa is a company they need to mak a profit. And as for qatar hosting the World Cup i would much rather go there than the USA. And it will be the first middle eastern country to host the Worldcup!! USA's arrogance wont get them far.

  • Helen - 2010-12-03 08:56

    Keep America clean, Obama. The world can live with a little less corruption.

  • Sinbad0696 - 2010-12-03 08:57

    So they want to host the world cup twice in twenty years? Do the people that are complaining even realise that football is a global sport and doesn't need to be dictated to by arrogance? I think not. I say FIFA have done well. They've realised that tapping into previously unknown territory is the best way forward for the sport. Russia 2018, Qatar 2022, Australia/New Zealand 2026? Who knows.

  • channelleg - 2010-12-03 09:06

    Blah Blah. The Americans can stop whining - they've already had a chance to host the SWC. I think its great that they're giving it to a country who hasn't had a chance yet. Maybe America needs to start realising that they're not exactly the most popular country in the world... Go Qatar! If we could do it, so can you!

  • Gorilla - 2010-12-03 09:06

    Qatar??? Now tell me seriously - What on earth is Qatar going to do with 8 SWC soccer stadiums after the tournament with a population of less that 1.6 million people? What a joke. Well done FIFA, you have conned the world again.

      Alex1A - 2010-12-03 10:10

      they will apparently be dismantling the stadiums and re erect them in "3rd World Countries" after the 2022 event.

      Gorilla - 2010-12-03 11:44

      What a lot of nonsense. They just going to carry them there? you ever seen a stadium being "dismantled"??

  • Base - 2010-12-03 09:09

    Qatar be aware,the USA will soon find a way to bully you.

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