Geopolitics And International Policy May Sink FIFA’s Planned 2022 Work Cup Expansion

Middle East politics and the World Cup.

The United States men’s national soccer team, which did not qualify for the 2018 World Cup in Russia, may have received a setback in its bid to get back onto the pitch in the 2022 Qatar World Cup and it has nothing to do with performance. FIFA, the governing body of international soccer, may not be able to increase the field to 48 teams from the present 32 as planned because of geopolitics and failures in international diplomacy. Oman has said no to co-hosting additional 2022 World Cup fixtures. FIFA is considering a plan that would increase the field and the soccer group was hoping Oman could host some contests. Kuwait could be the fallback host but there are problems starting with alcohol. Kuwait has an alcohol ban and one of FIFA’s major marketing partners is a brewery.

How did FIFA find itself in this position? International politics. In 2017, Saudi Arabia led a coalition of countries that placed a diplomatic and business blockade of Qatar because of what the coalition views as Qatar’s support of international terrorism. The blockade continues and FIFA’s hope of having Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates or Bahrain picking up the extra games has disappeared. Oman and Kuwait are not involved in the blockade. Oman just does not have the time to build the needed facilities for FIFA. Kuwait has another problem that probably is insurmountable for FIFA to solve. Kuwait doesn’t allow certain nationalities into the country which is against FIFA rules. Neither Oman nor Kuwait has a 40,000 seat stadium and there might be a problem even building those facilities. Where would Oman and Kuwait get the labor needed for the construction? Guest workers?  FIFA has been criticized for giving Qatar the 2022 World Cup because the facilities are being built by guest workers.  Human rights organizations call the guest workers slave labor.