Wednesday, December 8, aoio | The Red a Black
FIFA’s World Cup destination 'questionable at best’
Like many Americans who
had been following the
United States’ bid to host
the 2022 World Cup, I found last
Thursday’s announcement that
the tournament will be held In a
country the size of Connecticut
with a population less than that
of Houston to be surprising, to
say the least.
I understand that it’s FIFA’s
job to promote soccer around
the world, and that giving the
tournament to Qatar will help
develop the sport In the Middle
But when compared to the
U.S. bid, the'choice of Qatar
seems questionable, at best.
The proposed venues alone
underscore the strength of the
The smallest stadium the U.S.
proposed as a possible venue
was the 67,500-seat Lucas Oil
Stadium in Indianapolis. That’s
bigger than all but one of the
stadiums proposed by Qatar.
Lucas Oil Stadium is also differ
ent from nine of Qatar’s pro
posed stadiums in that it, like all
of the proposed U.S. venues,
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actually exists outside of models.
The three stadiums that do exist
have a combined capacity of just
less than Sanford Stadium’s
92,746, though they plan to
expand to be larger by the World
Beyond the venues, the U.S.
bid would have given unprece
dented attention to the world’s
most popular sport, and played
a mstfor role in expanding the
sport to the world’s third-largest
FIFA, which earns most of its
income from the World Cup on
ticket sales, also missed great
potential for profit in the U.S.
The 1994 World Cup, held in
the U.S., set a record with
3.6 million attendees, a record
that still stands even though 12
more games have been added to
the schedule since the 1994
Perhaps, as ESPN reported,
FIFA’s delegates were Impressed
by the visions of spaceship-llke
stadiums, and the slick video
Qatar put together to promote
Perhaps the U.S. bid was hurt
by the relative lack of star power,
as President Barack Obama’s
satellite-feed address paled in
comparison to the French soccer
star, Zinedine Zidane, who Qatar
hired especially for the occasion.
But the U.S. shouldn’t have
been penalized because Morgan
Freeman skipped a page In his
speech and Obama stayed home
to avoid being criticized by
Michelle Bachmann for ever
spending money on a trip.
But all these facts have been
widely disseminated since the
announcement. How did FIFA’s
mistake affect Georgia?
Though Sanford Stadium
which saw the final soccer
matches of the 1996 Olympics
was announced as a potential
venue last year, President
Michael Adams didn’t apply for
Athens to move on to the next
This game features the two top-ranked freshman quarterbacks in
the country in passing efficiency in Aaron Murray and Central Florida’s
Jeff Godfrey. Murray is more of a pure passer, while Godfrey is the type
of dual threat quarterback that has given the Georgia defense night
mares on the year. On the season, Godfrey has averaged 200 yards per
game of total offense and is the team’s second-leading rusher. He has
two solid options at receiver to throw to in Jamar Newsome and Brian
Watters, who have 597 and 594 yards receiving on the season, respec
Both quarterbacks have led their respective squads to similar scor
ing numbers. Georgia ranks No. 23 in the country at 34.2 points per
game, with the Knights just behind at 33.8 points per game.
Georgia’s rushing game has been a nightmare for much of the sea
son due to an underperforming offensive line and running backs that
can’t stay out of trouble or stay healthy. Asa result, Georgia owns the
72nd-ranked rushing offense in the country with a mere 147.7 yards per
And Central Florida definitely doesn’t appear to be the opponent
for the Georgia running game to end the season on the right track. The
Knights have been incredibly stout all season against the run, giving
up only 110.3 yards per game on the ground good for 10th nationally.
Georgia’s ability, or inability, to get the ground game going will play a
major role in who is able to end its season on a high note.
Statistically speaking, the Bulldogs and Knights are eerily similar.
Talent-wise, not so much. The Knights play in the historically soft Con
ference USA, and won’t be able to hang with the Bulldogs from a talent
perspective. But coach George O’Leary has won everywhere he’s been
and that trend has continued at Central Florida, where he recently
won the conference championship after winning eight of its last nine.
Georgia head coach Mark Richt and O’Leary have faced off just
once before in 2001 when O’Leary coached Georgia Tech —and
Richt got the best of that matchup. Richt will have to ensure his team
doesn’t take a win for granted against O’Leary’s bunch and is ready to
“The U.S. bid would have
attention to the world’s
most popular sport and
played a major role in
expanding the sport to
the world’s third-largest
venue. Nonetheless, Atlanta was
one of 18 finalist cities In the
2022 bid, and hopefully that
meant we would have seen World
Cup soccer in the Georgia Dome
in 12 years.
And the Dome would have
been an excellent choice for a
World Cup venue.
The city is a great home to
professional and college sports
teams, and is increasingly devot
ed to soccer. The Dome hosted
an exhibition between Italy’s AC
Milan and Mexico’s Club
America last summer, and I saw
traffic stopped well along the
Downtown Connector en route
to the game. With the return of
Georgia limps into the Liberty Bowl with a 6-6 record, while
Central Florida is flying high at 10-3 fresh off a Conference
USA championship. The two teams have met just once before,
a 24-23 Georgia win in 1999, and a win would ensure Georgia’s
14th straight winning season.
THE KEY MATCHUPS:
Bulldogs vs. Knights
Aaron Murray vs. Jeff Godfrey
Washaun Ealey/Caleb King vs. Knight defense
Mark Richt vs. George O’Leary
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Call for Reservations
the Atlanta Beat to Kennesaw
this summer, the metro area also
supports a professional soccer
team, and the new Beat stadium
has hosted international exhibi
tions as well.
In addition, Atlanta was
Intended to serve as the interna
tional broadcast center for the
Cup, and this is where FIFA has
directly affected the University.
Just as Georgia sports informa
tion director extraordinaire
Claude Felton served in media
relations during the 1996
Olympics, Grady graduates
would have the chance of work
ing for PR for the World Cup.
And since print journalism is
dying, that’s probably a chance
we’ll have to take.
Basically, because the 2022
World Cup’s International
Broadcast Center will be in a
130-degree desert rather than
temperate Buckhead, I will have
one less opportunity for employ
ment in 12 years.
Robbie Ottley is a stajf writer
for The Red <& Black