Hundreds of soccer fans crowded into the downtown Irish bar Tir Na Nog Thursday morning to watch the president of FIFA, Sepp Blatter, crush their dreams.
“The winner to organize the 2022 World Cup is…Qatar.”
The United States had been short-listed to host the world championship soccer tournament watched by more than a billion people around the world. Philadelphia was a strong contender to be one of the host cities, if America had been chosen.
Qatar — the small Arab country about the size of Connecticut — is a mostly desert peninsula extending into the Persian Gulf where summer temperatures can be over 100 degrees. Choosing Qatar over contenders such as Australia and the United States is widely considered a risk.
Also announced was the winning bid for the 2018 games, which will be held in Russia.
“The board made a decision based on certain things,” said Nick Sakiewicz, CEO of the Philadelphia Union soccer team. “My sense is with Russia and Qatar, they want to grow the game in those parts of the world. They see the game exploding in this country. Maybe they want to grow the game over there.”
The Philadelphia Union is the newest expansion team of American Major League Soccer and one of the best attended teams in the league.