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Volume 24 No. 114

Events and Attractions

FIFA President Sepp Blatter admitted that it "was a mistake to choose Qatar to host the 2022 World Cup amid concerns over the country's searing climate," according to the London TELEGRAPH. It is believed that the tournament "will be moved to the winter to avoid matches taking place in such heat." Blatter in an interview with Switzerland-based RTS said, "Of course, it was a mistake. You know, one makes a lot of mistakes in life." But Blatter insisted that Qatar "had not 'bought' the World Cup -- the bid did spend large amounts of money on sponsorship and development programmes" (London TELEGRAPH, 5/16). The GUARDIAN notes a decision on whether the tournament "will be moved from summer to the winter in eight years' time has been postponed by FIFA until after next month's World Cup." Blatter in the interview said, "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." FIFA in a statement said Blatter's comment "is in line with previous comments on this matter. ... At no stage did he question Qatar as hosts of the 2022 FIFA World Cup." Meanwhile, Blatter "again indicated he would stand for a fifth term in next year's election." Blatter: "At the moment I say I want to finish my mandate well. Of course I am willing to continue" (GUARDIAN, 5/16).

NOT WORKING OUT: The LONDON TIMES writes FIFA's "controversial decision to award the tournament to Qatar in December 2010 has sparked outrage, not only over that process but also the conditions thousands of migrant workers have subsequently faced." Qatar has been "forced to overhaul its labour laws after it was revealed that hundreds of migrants had died in appalling and unsafe conditions while employed on the vast construction projects." Indian embassy figures suggest that more than 700 of its countrymen "have died there while building the stadiums and necessary infrastructure." The Int'l Trade Union Confederation warned that as many as 4,000 workers in all "could be the casualty of the construction process before the first match kicks off" (LONDON TIMES, 5/16).

The "overarching flaw" of NASCAR's Sprint All-Star Race -- and there are "many failings with an event that has lacked an indelible moment for years -- is redundancy," according to Nate Ryan of USA TODAY. Every Sprint Cup race "already is an all-star event." That has been a "major selling point for years in NASCAR, which cites the omnipresent starpower as a primary plank in the six-point 'Industry Action Plan' for rebuilding its audience." Ryan: "So why does the All-Star Race matter?" It "doesn't in its current shape, which reeks of irrelevance." A $1M winner's share posted by Sprint is "hugely significant." But "despite the big money," the "brutal truth is this has become the most banal of professional sports exhibitions." A "major reinvention is needed for an event with a long-term and severe identity crisis." A short track is the "best venue for the event, and there are some attractive options (Iowa Speedway?) whose layouts are much more conducive to the slam-bang style that is billed as its appeal." However, the "downside" is that Charlotte Motor Speedway, which hosts Saturday's All-Star Race, would lose an event. One of Ryan's Twitter followers "suggested a car swap in which a lottery would determine the drivers' rides." Anything that "doesn't smack of what fans already tune in to watch every week" (USA TODAY, 5/16). NASCAR VP & Chief Communications Office Brett Jewkes wrote on his Twitter feed, "Lots overanalyzing All-Star race. It's just the best million $ exhibition in sports - relax, have fun & thank @Sprint for doing it. #NASCAR" (