Beyond the News

How about if Tahiti hosts 2026 Football World Cup?

Tahiti’s participation in the 2013 Confederations Cup in Brazil was a success. The team made up of only 1 professional player lost all games, suffered 24 goals and scored only 1. Contradictory? Not really! Brazilian’s fans simply adopted the Oceania team during the group of stage and celebrate their participation in the tournament, including the only goal on the opening match when the audience stood up to clap feverishly. What is next now? How about to host the 2026 World Cup?

If infra-structure was not a problem for South Africa and Brazil to host a World Cup, why would it be in Tahiti? Photo: Ola Laurin

If infra-structure was not a problem for South Africa and Brazil to host a World Cup, why would it be in Tahiti? Photo: Ola Laurin

Since 1930 when the first Football World Cup was held in Uruguay, Oceania countries have never been chosen to host the competition. And now with Australia, who in addition to Fiji and New Zealand is the founder of Oceania Football Confederation (OFC), playing the qualifiers in the Asian groups, it seems to be quite difficult to see one of 8 countries part of OFC that are also FIFA members* to host the football most important competition.

Nevertheless, Tahiti is the next stage of Beach Football World Cup in September this year. But, why not to become the host of the main event in 13 years time?

I ask this question for a simple reason: If South Africa, Brazil, Russia and Qatar can receive the competition without having stadiums and infra-structure to do so, Tahiti can also do the same.

By the way, on this matter, what FIFA has done in the last 10 years is just outrageous! It is well known that a football competition at this level is not cheap, neither easy to be done. It is necessary roads, airports, hotels, stadiums etc. And all that costs a lot of money! FIFA defends itself by saying that these tournaments helps to bring development in the countries where they are held and the promotion of football is a great weapon to fight poverty and other social issues.

Well, I must agree with that! What I criticize is the way how this process is done. First, it is given the right for a nation to host the World Cup without evaluating whether there is or not infra-structure for an event of this size. As a consequence, the country’s tax payers are usually the ones who cover the expenses, which again, there is nothing wrong on that because they should be benefited by the investments; however, in places like South Africa, Brazil and Russia where corruption is quite popular, eventually, a World Cup becomes a platform for money laundering and other financial crimes.

In Brazil, the high spending on the World Cup became one of main issues discussed during the recent protests in the country, which should not be a surprise. In 2007, when the South American nation was chosen to host the tournament it was announced that all stadiums for the World Cup had to be built from scratch because there was none in good condition to receive matches at that level. And what did FIFA do? Simply let it gone without a word!

In Russia and Qatar the story is quite similar. And the question is: why do not FIFA obligate the candidates to have at least 50% of the structure for a World Cup ready before entering the bid? This would help not only the host nation to improve its infra-structure, but whoever else applies to organize the event!

Well, I am not the one who is going to answer this question, although the BBC reporter Andrew Jennings has recently given some hints why it happens! Nevertheless, if anyone can organize a World Cup, let’s take it to Oceania! The New Zealand’s football is improving! The country could organize a World Cup tomorrow, if necessary. They have all the infra-structure, including some stadiums to host an event of this magnitude. Furthermore, Australia has the experience of organizing 2 Olympic Games, and considering the close relationship between the countries, this experience could be shared to make any adjustment on time and on budget!

Nevertheless, I must agree that the situation in Tahiti might be a bit more complex. But, if South Africa, Brazil, Russia and Qatar were chosen by FIFA to host the World Cup without even having stadiums, why cannot we take it to Tahiti in 2026? By what Tahitians showed last month in Brazil, this move would be welcome and will certainly cause a positive stir in the football world.

* There are 11 teams members of OFC: American Samoa, Cook Islands, Fiji, New Caledonia, New Zealand, Papua New Guinea, Samoa, Solomon Islands, Tahiti (French Polynesia), Tonga, Vanuatu, Tuvalu,  Niue and Kiribati. The last three mentioned are not FIFA’s members.


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