Sen. Casey: Forget Qatar, U.S. should host World Cup


A fan of the United States holds an American flag during the 2014 FIFA World Cup Brazil Group G match between the United States and Portugal at Arena Amazonia on June 22 in Manaus, Brazil. (Warren Little/Getty Images)

With the World Cup in full swing and Team USA more than holding its own, Americans are beginning to pay more attention to the globe’s favorite pastime. Now imagine the football (soccer) fever if the once-every-four-years world competition was held in their backyard.

One U.S. senator has an idea to make this happen, and he’s imploring the Fédération Internationale de Football Association (FIFA) to hear him out. Sen. Bob Casey (D-Pa.), who is a prolific letter writer to heads of organizations, presidents of countries, etc., wants FIFA to take away the 2022 World Cup from Qatar and give it to the runner-up country. That country just happens to be the United States.

Casey cites Qatar’s human rights abuses against laborers, an issue that has made the choice of Qatar a controversial one since it won the bid to host. The labor practices there make the country unfit and undeserving of the attention and honor of running the World Cup, he says.

“I appreciate that there is no procedural precedent for awarding a bid to the runner-up in the case of a winning nation being disqualified. However, given these extraordinary circumstances, it would be prudent and fair to immediately begin preparations and make up for four years of lost time,” Casey wrote in a letter sent to FIFA president Joseph Blatter.

A recent investigation by the Sunday Times in London uncovered corruption by Mohamed bin Hammam, a Qatari official, in securing the games in his country. FIFA Vice President Jim Boyce has said he would consider a re-vote if they prove to be true. Casey said in the letter that he would be open to a re-vote as well. (If Qatar was out, but U.S. still didn’t get it, would that be considered a draw for Casey?)

Of course, one U.S. senator taking on the all-powerful FIFA may be tilting at windmills, but there does seem to be a significant amount of pressure on the organization to move the World Cup location. It’s unclear what additional steps Casey would take — the all-powerful, nonbinding congressional resolution? a public hearing? — if FIFA doesn’t respond as he’d like, or at all.

With all due respect to the senator and his letter-writing effort, nothing quite compares to the epic FIFA takedown by HBO’s John Oliver a few weeks ago. Here it is if you missed it:

Colby Itkowitz is a national reporter for In The Loop.
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Colby Itkowitz | June 23