Could the 2022 World Cup really move from Qatar to the USA?

Warren Little

Thanks to Jorge Ramos, everyone's in a fuss about a potential move of the 2022 World Cup from Qatar to the United States. If Qatar is actually stripped, how might this happen?

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People have been calling for FIFA to strip Qatar of the 2022 World Cup since the day they were awarded the tournament. Now, according to Jorge Ramos in a Tweet since deleted, FIFA is prepared to do just that, and if they do strip Qatar of the World Cup, they'd like the United States to be ready to host.

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As of now, it is a single report from a single person. There hasn't even been a rumbling of this development from elsewhere, and with FIFA's investigation of potential corruption in the 2018 and 2022 World Cup bids not due to conclude until late July, it seems unlikely that they would move the tournament now. Ramos also throws out a lot of rumors, so to act as if this is true or in any way decided is a major stretch.

United States Soccer Federation president Sunil Gulati has also come out and flatly denied the report.

Still, this is something that could happen, if not now then in the future. Many FIFA members, including president Sepp Blatter, have said that hosting of the 2022 World Cup would have to be revisited if there was any corruption found and several outlets, most notably The Times of London, have found clear instances of bribery.

In the event that Qatar is stripped of the World Cup, most believe FIFA would conduct a re-vote. In that case, countries would have to re-submit new bids to host, so the U.S. would have to want to host and put forth the effort necessary to bid. Most assume they would, as would Australia, Japan and South Korea, the rest of the countries that lost out in the original bidding for 2022.

The U.S. would theoretically have a leg up on any competitors in a re-vote because of its massive existing infrastructure and potential revenue. The U.S. already has more than enough stadiums thanks to the NFL, as well as transportation and hotels, plus MLS and colleges can provide the training facilities. Add in that the 1994 World Cup, which the U.S. hosted, was arguably the most financially successful tournament ever, and the Americans will be considered front-runners in a re-vote.

There is also a belief that the U.S. would hold an advantage because of a shortened timeframe to prepare, with the tournament changing hosts, but that's not really true. The 2022 World Cup was handed out extraordinarily early. In the past, FIFA has announced hosts seven years in advance; the additional lead time would ensure that, if a new country is awarded the right in the next year, that nation would have a normal amount of time to build whatever is necessary and organize the tournament.

But while the bulk of the speculation has been that FIFA would conduct a re-vote, it is possible that they just give the tournament to another country. That becomes especially likely if it takes a few more years before FIFA decides to strip Qatar of the tournament. That would leave insufficient time for countries to bid, for another vote to be held and for the re-vote's winning country to organize the tournament.

In that case, the tournament would likely be given to the U.S. Its existing infrastructure means it can host on short notice and the revenue potential remains.

If that were to happen, NFL stadiums would host most, if not all, of the matches. New Jersey's MetLife Stadium, AT&T Stadium in Arlington, Texas, and a potential new NFL stadium in Los Angeles would likely compete to host the final and opening match, but as many as a dozen venues around the country could host matches. It would likely be the biggest World Cup ever contested, with average capacities topping 70,000 seats, and could potentially take soccer in the country to another level.

Of course, right now Qatar is the host of the 2022 World Cup. Despite reports that it could be stripped of the tournament, it doesn't appear imminent. And even if it does, there is no guarantee that the U.S. would get to to host. Odds are, it will go to a re-vote and the U.S. would have to beat out Australia, Japan, South Korea and maybe others.

Rumors will swirl until FIFA actually takes the tournament from Qatar, or doesn't. Until then, it's just a series of "what ifs."

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