Beyond the News
As these lines are written the top management of FIFA (International Football Federation Association) is getting together in Zurich, Switzerland, to decide on what to do with Qatar’s World Cup scheduled to happen in 2022, the first one in the middle-east. The problem is that the tournament should be held between the months of June and July (as traditionally it happens), when in Qatar temperatures may reach up to 50⁰C.
On the top of it, the other concern is with the labor involved in the construction of entire infra-structure for the event. The workforce in Qatar exists under a very controversial legislation which does not allowed them to leave the country without an authorization of their employees, as it was reported by the international news broadcaster CNN. Several of them would have lost their lives recently in Qatar, pushing FIFA to take an action on that.
All this mess makes me wonder whether FIFA is made of serious people or a bunch of frustrated lawmakers trying to become celebrities. I will not even discuss too much the issue related to laboring because I believe it goes beyond FIFA’s responsibility to control and/or stop modern slavering or poor working conditions around the globe, but accept the organization of a sport event in a place that can have temperatures of up to 50⁰C is insanity!
Anyone who applies for a job at a major international company or to a study programme at a large university is required to have certain skills, experience and graduation diplomas to do so. On the top of it, they can also be required to go through personal or phone interviews, group assessment, background checks and several other appraisals as required, for example: essay development, language tests, etc. At FIFA, your resume and promises are more relevant than anything else. It is enough to be a country to be eligible as a Football World Cup host.
An employee or student is the company’s or university’s representative and any serious organization would care about it. What is the point to hire someone who might not perform well in that specific position? That is why there is out there something called hiring process. For instance, at McKinsey & Company, a new employee needs to go through several steps in this hiring process as you may see here. At the end, if a candidate is refused, a feedback is given to help him/her to improve his/her skills for future opportunities in other companies.
In this way, there is no wasting of time looking for the right person to the right position, while those who do not have the minimum attributes are helped with relevant information that will be crucial for their professional improvement.
Nevertheless, the feeling that I have is that FIFA takes a different approach, opening a tender and letting everyone to submit a bid with whatever they want. Now, 3 years later, FIFA’s organizers realized something very important: “Qatar is extremely hot in summer. This might put the athletes’ health in danger, but we cannot move it to winter as it will make a mess in the European calendar”. The question is: why was not it taken in consideration during the bidding period? Did not FIFA inspect the country to see whether or not they could be a candidate and what are their ups and downs? Did not FIFA require them to present a suitable solution for this heat issue? What does make FIFA believe that Qatar can organize a good World Cup? The beautiful PowerPoint presentation from Qatari organizers and the loads of petroleum extracted in the country?
This is not the first time that FIFA puts itself in such a mess. It happened in South Africa 2010 and it is happening in Brazil 2014. Both nations were under threats to lose the competition until the last minute for not being able to comply with FIFA’s standards. However, South Africa and Brazil were chosen under continental rotation system, so there were not many options; the South American country was for example the only candidate, while South Africa was chosen instead of Morocco and Egypt.
But Qatar’s case is different! USA, South Korea, Japan and Australia were also bidding. With a line up like that, the host should be hand-picked; or at least, should go through an extensive analysis and audit before been chosen. Nevertheless, FIFA elected Qatar without having in place a plan to guarantee the health-safety of its athletes, an issue that should be above all.
Now, “FIFA’s lawmakers” are posing like responsible professionals raising questions that should have been raised 3 or 4 years ago. They are now dressed in their expensive suits and meeting in air-conditioned rooms in the cold and beautiful city of Zurich, in Switzerland. What are they discussing there? Perhaps nothing! Perhaps, they are playing cross-words like little kids and throwing paper airplanes on each other before threatening Qatar with a “plan” that the country should comply with; “otherwise they will lose the rights to host the World Cup”.
I cannot wait for the next chapter of this fairy tale!