By: Mark Vincent Lincir
It was supposed to be the catalyst for the next step in soccer popularity in the United States. But by awarding the 2022 to Qatar, FIFA has squashed the dreams of an entire Soccer Nation! (I am intentionally overplaying the impact for dramatic effect.)
First things first…the United States is not a soccer nation. It is a nation of many, many people involved with the game of soccer. But the country, if anything, is a baseball, basketball, football, golf, hockey, skateboarding, surfing, hang-gliding, wrestling, auto-racing, badminton playing country that plays everything and anything.[picappgallerysingle id=”10312403″]
So is the World Cup snub really going to affect the growth of soccer in the United States? No, it isn’t. Now, don’t get me wrong, I’m as bummed as anyone that we didn’t get awarded the 2022 World Cup, because hosting a World Cup is a very special thing. But did I ever, for one minute think that kids around the country were going to put down their baseball bat and start kicking around a soccer ball just because they witnessed the World Cup final in person? Absolutely not…it just doesn’t work that way in the United States.
The other part of this whole snub things that bothers me is that we are talking about a World Cup that is over a decade away! We still need to qualify for the next two World Cups! The upcoming 2014 World Cup in Brazil will definitely be a party worth attending and the 2018 WC in Russia has “intrigue” written all over it. I mean, who doesn’t want to share a luxury box with Roman Abramovich, while enjoying the crisp weather of a Russian summer?
Now to Qatar…will I be heading over there to enjoy searing temperatures hovering around 110 degrees (that’s on a cool day)…no, I won’t. And unless the air-conditioned stadiums are all what they are supposed to be, I will feel sorry for the fans and players who might be playing in utterly stifling conditions.
But FIFA is doing a good job of spreading the wealth (that is meant to be an inside joke) to countries all over the world. The 2022 World Cup in Qatar will be the first time the Cup will be played in the Middle East. Forget the heat, get one of those hats with the little fan on it and enjoy!
As for the United States, it’s time to get back to enjoying the game for what it is now. One massive fault we have here is that we are always looking towards tomorrow. That needs to stop. There are plenty of reasons to enjoy it for what it is today. The United States has more players playing abroad than it ever has. The national team will qualify for the next World Cup and yes, many people around the country do follow the game religiously.
Will the World Cup return to the United States? Yes, it will…but not for a while. I was at the World Cup in 1994 to see the United States lose a tight game to Romania at a sold-out Rose Bowl…and I was also at the U.S. v Italy game in Germany and both were incredible experiences. The World Cup is something to see in person if you ever can. And no matter what continent it is on, it’s a very special experience that everyone must enjoy at least once in their lifetime.
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