FIFA Women’s World Cup 2015:
Canada and Zimbawe
Canada and Zimbawe
I'm not exactly as optimistic about Canada hosting the Women's World Cup as I would like. This article from Canadian Soccer News detail why Canada might lose to Zimbabwe. This article from the same site detail why Canada will probably host the next one. I don't claim that these articles are unbiased or that I agree with everything, but they do bring up a lot of points.
The 2015 Women's World Cup is ours! Right?!?
FIFA -- lovely, transparent FIFA -- announced today that there will only be two bidders for the 2015 Women's World Cup: Canada and Zimbabwe.
Awesome news, right? After concerns that Australia might also be a serious contender, we should be celebrating! We're pretty much one rubber stamp away from hosting a senior FIFA tournament!
So why the hell does this make me so worried?
Well, it makes me worried because FIFA seems intent on casting itself as a sporting equivalent of (or perhaps, outright replacement for) the United Nations these days. To hear Sepp Blatter and company talk about it, upcoming men's World Cups will not only alleviate one nation's history of isolation and corruption (Russia 2018), but bring peace to the freakin' Middle East (Qatar 2022).
The success of South Africa 2010, after so many worries about safety and logistics, also makes me think FIFA may want to entrench its reputation as a champion of Africa by awarding the women's tournament to Zimbabwe.
Sorry, I just realized how out-of-touch-with-reality FIFA has made us, because we're now seriously wondering whether Canada will be able to overcome the challenge of Zimbabwe, for fuck's sakes. Zimbabwe, a country with the 165th highest GDP in the world, a dollar so worthless that 10 billion dollars was converted to one dollar in 2008, a year before it was removed as the nation's official currency, and a president whose officials allegedly beat his rival in the 2007 election to a bloody pulp.
So suffice to say, Zimbabwe has some problems.
And that, sickeningly enough, may actually make the country more appealing to FIFA.
The awarding of the men's tournament to Qatar substantively proved that FIFA couldn't care less about a host nation's current or historical performance in the international game, so there's no point citing the fact that Zimbabwe is ranked 103rd in the world (13th among African countries) in the most recent women's world rankings.
You can also disregard the fact that Zimbabwe is, according to the CIA Factbook, "a source, transit, and destination country for men, women, and children trafficked for the purposes of forced labor and sexual exploitation", something the government is "not making significant efforts to" deal with.
In Blatter's world, the fact that Zimbabwe is a troubled nation isn't a liability, or a caution sign -- it's an opportunity to, as he said, bring the game of soccer to new places.
Robert Mugabe is no stranger to FIFA: his nephew was awarded a no-bid contract at last year's World Cup by one of FIFA's partner companies. Brazil also played a friendly in Zimbabwe in the run-up to the South African World Cup, which surely would have had FIFA's approval and blessing. And journalist Grant Wahl tweeted earlier today that Mugabe himself was a VIP at last summer's World Cup final.
All of this is why I'm very, very worried.
Let me make a few things clear: I'm not averse to the idea of an African nation hosting the Women's World Cup. But not Zimbabwe in 2015. If you're gonna try to "strike while the iron's hot" with a country that might be poised to benefit, how about Equatorial Guinea, who've gone from a #119 ranking five years ago to #62 in the most recent rankings, and will be competing in this summer's tournament in Germany?
Also, I cite all of these things not to impugn the people of Zimbabwe, or to make anyone feel ashamed of their Zimbabwean heritage. I have no doubt that there are honest, hard-working people who earnestly believe that bringing the Women's World Cup to that nation would assist the country in alleviating some of its pressing issues.
But FIFA's role is not to alleviate those social and political problems. It is a governing body for the sport of soccer. Its role, theoretically, is to look out for the best interests of the global game, its players and fans.
Canada has successfully hosted FIFA tournaments in the past, in addition to hosting the Olympics on three occasions. Our country is ranked in the top 10 worldwide on the women's side, with a young, exciting team heading in the right direction under a new coach. Hundreds of thousands of young girls play the game in this country, and interest in the game is at an all-time high. We have plenty of established infrastructure and transportation, with the wealth necessary to ensure that any logistical concerns could be allayed ahead of time.
This tournament, as Rollins said earlier today, "really is Canada's to lose".
From a sporting, promotional and financial standpoint, of course it is. Of course Canada is the logical, "best" choice to host this major FIFA tournament.
But then, that's what the fans in England and the United States thought too.
Here's the aforemention article from Duane Rollings with its more optimistic viewpoint.
Two country race for 2015 Women's World Cup
It really is Canada's to lose. After hearing noise from several countries -- including serious potential challenger Australia -- only minnow Zimbabwe emerged as a challenger to Canada's hopes at landing the 2015 Women's World Cup.
Zimbabwe was the only other country where the FA had publically announced it was bidding prior to today. In the other cases a bid had been suggested, but not confirmed.
Could Zimbabwe win? It's possible, but it would likely be an even greater stretch than awarding Qatar the 2022 World Cup. Zimbabwe is less stable than Qatar, is very poor and its women's program is almost non-existent.
In comparison, Canada has established infrastructure (it may need improvements, but is far more advanced than what you would find in Zimbabwe), is a top 10 women's team in the world, has ample hosting experience and, most importantly, can actually afford to hold it.
The only argument Zimbabwe can make is one of legacy. Women's football is not at the point where it can afford to go to countries for legacy purposes. It needs its marquee event to be successful and it's unclear whether Zimbabwe could promise FIFA that.
It's likely that the other nations backed away from the bid because they realized that it was Canada's to lose.
It is FIFA so we shouldn't be surprised if there is a surprise yet to come, but it sure looks like the WWC is coming to Canada in 2015.
I am hoping that Canada will hosts the Women's World Cup in 2015. However, I'm not intimately familiar with Zimbabwe, so I can't really speak for that point of view. Thoughts?