Exclusive! The real reason FIFA voted for Qatar

Ross Kinnaird

Even Sepp Blatter has admitted that a summer World Cup in the tiny emirate might not be the greatest idea. So just what were FIFA thinking?

Perhaps the best thing about the decision to host the 2022 World Cup in Qatar is the way it's managed to bring the entire footballing world together. In contempt, yes, but still, it's unusual to find everybody so unified.

For when it comes to Qatar 2022, and objections, there really is something for everyone. Those primarily concerned with the football have focused on the practical issues of hosting an event like the World Cup, with its strong emphasis on outdoor exercise, in a country where summertime temperatures regularly end up somewhere between 'hellish' and 'Venusian'. Meanwhile, those who like their sporting occasions to at least gesture towards some kind of notion of social decency have been politely raising issues like 'political repression', 'LGBT rights', and 'forced labour'.

Those poor, paranoid souls that can't look at a room full of astoundingly rich and exceptionally powerful men in suits without leaping to all kinds of conclusions about the illicit movement of money have been, well, leaping. Others, more prosaically, are concerned that Qatar might not be the easiest place to get a drink.

But as the kerfuffle plays out -- as Sepp Blatter belatedly finds time in his busy schedule to read the FIFA technical report, and as the prospect of a winter World Cup looms larger -- the true mystery of the decision is being lost in the noise. For as the AFP reported at the time, one of Qatar's rivals, Japan, had big plans:

High-tech Japan has promised to treat football fans worldwide to ultra-realistic live 3-D telecasts of World Cup matches should it win the right to host the 2022 edition. ... The matches would be viewed by some 360 million people at nearly 400 select stadiums in FIFA's 208 member countries ... The images would be captured from 360 degrees by 200 high-definition cameras during each match, to be transmitted as three-dimensional images ... The matches would be shown on giant screens or, if technological advances in coming years allow, projected like a real match onto the pitch itself, giving viewers the illusion of watching the real thing.

In case you missed the important bit:

The matches would be shown on giant screens or, if technological advances in coming years allow, projected like a real match onto the pitch itself, giving viewers the illusion of watching the real thing.

In case you missed the really important bit:

projected like a real match onto the pitch itself

!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Now, a manifesto promise, as any Liberal Democrat can tell you, is no guarantee. It's starting to look as though Qatar may not be the festival of stadium-wide air-conditioning and remote-controlled clouds that we were promised. And even if it had worked, it could have been rubbish, or at the very least quite odd. Would it be more or less peculiar to shout abuse and/or praise at a 3D hologram than at a television. And what would the atmosphere in these stadiums be like? Would there be chanting? Fighting? Mexican waves? Presumably it would be absolutely fine to hurl missiles at the players, from the front few rows at least, and who amongst us could pass up the opportunity to hurl a half-eaten balti not just at but through Jack Wilshere's forehead? Assuming England qualify.

But that's not the point. The point is: how is it physically possible not to vote for that? What kind of broken, empty, joy-loathing parody of a human being looks at a group of people that are promising to build live-action holodecks in the football stadiums of the world ... and then chooses somebody else? These are the people who are entrusted with guiding the dreams of a football-obsessed planet. What the hell is wrong with them?

We at SB Nation understand that this question has been keeping you up at night. But we think we've cracked it. Far from being a dubious cabal of self-interested know-nothing fun-hating buffet-hopping buffoons, FIFA, by opting for Qatar, were for once living up to their motto: Yes, We Can Definitely Get Pele Along, How Much.

Consider: 3D simultaneous holographic broadcasting of a distant football match in the same spaces that a normally-visible game would normally occupy. A great idea when it's the World Cup, which is held in the off-season in a distant land. Not so great when a domestic fixture in a smaller league clashes with something big and loud and exciting. If the matchgoing experience can be reproduced, sort of, without the presence of the players, then sooner or later somebody that owns a relatively sizeable and regularly-underfilled football ground is going to realise that there's more money in broadcasting games from halfway around the world than there is in accommodating an actual football club. Forget this mid-table second division K-League clash, come and watch Zlatan! From actual sporting theatre to just, well, a novelty cinema.

That was the choice faced by FIFA delegates. Vote Japan, and destroy the game around the world for every club but the most powerful. Only Qatar and all the inevitable attendant nonsense could hope to distract football from a fate worse than playing internationals in the winter: techno-geeking itself to death. There had to be a reason for this most ludicrous-looking of decisions; this is it. Thank you, FIFA. Thank you, Sepp Blatter. For the good of the game.

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