The Next Two World Cups Could Be in Jeopardy, but They Won't Be

At least, not while Sepp Blatter is still in charge.
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At least, not while Sepp Blatter is still in charge.

It's been over a month since the World Cup ended, so why don't we check in with FIFA?

On the women's side, no one wants to play in next year's World Cup. As Juliet Macur writes for the Times:

... [Abby] Wambach and a host of other top players — including Alex Morgan and Heather O’Reilly of the United States, and Nadine Angerer of Germany, the 2013 player of the year — have been protesting the plan to use artificial turf at the World Cup since it was announced. Recently they took their protest up a notch, threatening legal action if the tournament isn’t played on grass. ...

“It’s a gender issue through and through,” Wambach said, pointing out that a top men’s competition like the World Cup or the Champions League final has never been played on it.

“This being the pinnacle of our sport,” Wambach added, “We feel like we should be treated just like the men.”

And on the men's side, the host of the next World Cup is casually absorbing teams from a neighboring country into its domestic league. As Jonathan Wilson writes for the Guardian:

Last Tuesday SKChF Sevastopol won 2-0 away at TSK Simferopol while Zhemchuzhina Yalta went down 2-0 at home to Sochi in the first round of the Russian Cup. On Saturday the winners of the two ties met, SKChF advancing to the third round on penalties after a goalless draw. Their reward is a home tie against Taganrog to be played on Friday.

In themselves there is nothing particularly remarkable about those results, although SkChF were fined 30,000 roubles (£500) after their fans invaded the pitch at TSK (who were fined 10,000 roubles for failing to keep spectators off the pitch). But context is everything: SKChF Sevastopol, TSK Simferopol and Zhemchuzhina Yalta are clubs based in Crimea.

That is of huge significance and not just because their presence in Russian competitions continues the process of normalisation of Crimea, integrating the peninsula into the Russian state. There is also, it seems, a genuine fear within the Russian Football Union that Crimean teams competing in these competitions could cost Russia the right to host the 2018 World Cup.

If I had to guess? Nothing happens with either tournament, and both go on as planned. One, because the president of FIFA's most notable idea for women's soccer is: "Let the women play in more feminine clothes like they do in volleyball. They could, for example, have tighter shorts." And two, because the man who directed Russia's 2018 World Cup bid is a member of FIFA's 22-man, one-woman executive committee, which is the same committee that would have to vote to take hosting rights away from the nation where he also happens to be the head of the Ministry of Sport.

With FIFA—its perpetual discrimination and conflict-of-interest corruption as sure as gravity—there's never anything new. —Ryan O'Hanlon