(WXIA) – With the soccer world's attention on this year's World Cup in Brazil, many fans are looking down the road, which may actually lead back to the United States.
Reports emerged late Thursday that FIFA, the world's governing body for soccer, is calling upon the United States to be ready in the event that the Middle Eastern nation of Qatar loses the 2022 World Cup.
In May, FIFA's president, Sepp Blatter, called the granting of Qatar the 2022 tournament a "mistake," primarily due to the extreme heat in the desert nation.
"Of course it was a mistake," Blatter told Swiss TV network RTS. "The technical report indicated clearly that it was too hot in summer, but despite that the executive committee decided, with quite a big majority, that the tournament would be in Qatar."
Average daytime temperatures in Qatar routinely creep above 100 degrees between May and September, with averages at 90 degrees or above in April and October.
Calls from Qatar to move the multinational competition to the winter months has met with push-back from many nations, as their regular league competition schedules fall during that time frame. Olympic officials from many nations also expressed misgivings, as the 2022 Winter Olympic Games are expected to be held in the early months of 2022.
Twelve venues are either under construction or planned for in Qatar for their World Cup matches.
Construction delays and methods have come under scrutiny and been the subject of criticism – especially in the wake of the deaths of hundreds of construction workers since the nation was awarded the games in 2010. The results of an ongoing investigation are expected in July 2014.
In addition to the ongoing concerns regarding the weather in Qatar, The New York Times says there are concerns that Qatari billionaire Mohamed bin Hammam may have colluded with Russian officials. Russia has been awarded the 2018 World Cup. Reports also suggest accusations that bin Hammam may have bribed FIFA officials to influence their votes for Qatar.
Thursday's report suggests that the United States, who came in second place in the bidding process for the World Cup when it was awarded, might be looking at actually hosting the 2022 event.
The US hosted the 1994 World Cup, in an event that many credit with an explosion in interest in the sport in this country. Nine stadiums in the US were used for World Cup matches in 1994.
Five of the major corporate sponsors of FIFA – Sony, Adidas, Visa, Hyundai/Kia and Atlanta-based Coca-Cola, have expressed concerns regarding issues concerning the Qatar bid. According to a BBC report this week, BP and Anheuser-Busch InBev also have concerns regarding the Qatar bid. Only air carrier Emirates, based in the neighboring United Arab Emirates, has remained quiet, thus far.
Thursday evening, New York Times columnist Sam Borden said the president of US Soccer, Sunil Gulati, has denied that any formal approach has been made to the US. With growing concern regarding the Qatar bid, however, questions remain about Qatar's suitability to host the 2022 event.
The United States' original bid for the 2022 World Cup included a list of 21 stadiums in 18 cities, including the Georgia Dome in Atlanta. Presumably a revived plan for the 2022 World Cup in the US would include the new Atlanta Falcons stadium, now under construction in downtown Atlanta.
The other 20 stadiums named in the original United States bid for the 2022 World Cup included the Rose Bowl and Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum in Los Angeles, the Cotton Bowl in Dallas, FedEx Field near Washington, Cowboys Stadium (now AT&T Stadium) outside Dallas, MetLife Stadium in East Rutherford, NJ, Sun Life Stadium near Miami, Reliant Stadium in Houston, Arrowhead Stadium in Kansas City, Invesco Field at Mile High in Denver, Raymond James Stadium in Tampa, Gillette Stadium near Boston, Husky Stadium and Century Link Field in Seattle, the University of Phoenix Stadium near Phoenix, M&T Bank Stadium in Baltimore, Lincoln Financial Field in Philadelphia, Qualcomm Stadium in San Diego and Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis.