Late Thursday afternoon in Zurich, Switzerland, Sepp Blatter, the President of FIFA, stepped to the podium and announced that Qatar had won the right to host the 2022 World Cup. This meant that the bids from Australia, Japan, Korea, and more importantly, the United States, had failed.
While the odds for the U.S. to win the 2022 event were dropping Thursday, America, with its soccer-hungry fans (really: only host country South Africa bought more tickets to this past summer's World Cup) and a network of soccer-ready stadiums in place (not to mention an ample amount of hotels) was still the favorite. Twenty-eight years between hosting duties is plenty of time, and more than ever, the United States was ready to be the center stage of the soccer world.
Which is why it was so surprising when Blatter read "Qatar." Don Garber, commissioner of MLS, the United States' soccer league that continues to gain international respect every year, spoke for many when he said, "I'm shocked."
It came down to the final round of voting, but that's where Qatar edged the U.S., 14-8. And really, it wasn't even that close: Qatar earned 11 votes in the first round (one shy of a win) compared to United States' three.
So what happened? If you ask Sports Illustrated's Grant Wahl, the world was shown "the biggest indictment possible that FIFA is not a clean organization."
The message here is that petrodollars talk. For an outfit that likes to thump its chest and claim that it is not corrupt (Trust us, says FIFA president Sepp Blatter), having two oil-wealthy winners is the clearest message possible that FIFA needs a complete overhaul in its leadership and organization. Russia had a pretty good case for being chosen, but Qatar (which was funded heavily by its government and bought the support of celebrity endorsers) didnt make a lot of sense in the first place.
Until we get that "overhaul," however, we're left with Brazil 2014, Russia in 2018 and Qatar in 2022. Things could be worse, obviously (and at the very least, we get to witness the spectacle that will be Qatar, one of the wealthiest countries in the world, putting on the world's biggest sporting event, complete with stadiums that will shame even Jerry Jones' wildest dreams -- they're planning an island stadium, people!).
As for the U.S., they're left wondering what they could have done differently, and left looking ahead to 2026.