The nations who were seeking the 2022 World Cup tournament (the largest attended single sport tournament in the world) were:
Conventional wisdom said that the U.S. was an easy favorite to run away with the bid. Australia was considered our closest rival, followed by Japan and then South Korea and Qatar for obvious reasons.
Australia is a former Olympic venue, they have the stadiums, infrastructure and the scenery to host a World Cup and their citizens have the passion and knowledge of the game to make it work. The problem for Australia is more political than strategic. The Aussies haven't made enough friends in the Asian confederation yet. There is also enough money to entice FIFA.
Japan's national league is the largest in Asia and while small, the nation has a world class infrastructure and excellent stadiums. The Japanese are also not hurting for cash to bring FIFA in. The problem is that it co-hosted the World Cup in 2002 with South Korea and 2 World Cups in 20 years is too much.
South Korea has the same problem as Japan, having co-hosted in 2002. South Korea is also not able to put up the dollars that the other nations are which adds to their downside. Adding even more to the South Korean woes is the aggression of their northern neighbors and the threat of military instability. Playing soccer in an active war zone is not attractive.
Qatar has more money than God and they're spending it. That's about the only positive about Qatar's bid. It's located in the Middle East where violence is only one suicide bomber away and the temperatures tend to soar into the 120's. It's not the place that anyone wants to run around outside for 90+ mins. Qatar isn't exactly soccer central either so we'll see how many outsiders are willing to fly into the Middle East.
Finally we get to the U.S. bid. We are able to spend ALMOST as much as Qatar but because we already have the stadiums built and the infrastructure in place we don't need to keep pace. The climate here is another boon as is the fact that the U.S. Soccer program is slowly becoming a world class organization. The problem is that we aren't exactly beloved around the world and that is a powerful motivator for the international FIFA to ignore us.
So as I stated in the title, FIFA has made their decision. The 2022 World Cup will be played in...Qatar. Apparently money talks and everything else, including the safety of the players and the fans, walks. FIFA has become the latest international body to sell out to the fat cat Middle Eastern oil sheiks. It almost makes me think that President Obama himself lobbied for us to get the World Cup the way he lobbied for us to get the Olympics. This time though, it's President Clinton, who got such a warm ovation in Africa, who was summarily rejected by an international sporting body.
2 for 2 libs. Way to go.