Disputed to Qatar in indifference and extreme conditions, the World Athletics Championships say everything sports confederations are willing to sacrifice for their benefit, writes our columnist Jerome Latta.
CHRONIC. "We all see it's a disaster". Decathlete Kevin Mayer only mentions the extreme weather conditions of the world athletics championships in Doha, not even the starving number of spectators attending one of the air-conditioned stadiums of the next World Cup.
The postponement of the marathon and the 50 km run in the middle of the night, in deserted streets, did not prevent discomfort and abandonment in series, giving the tests the character of a parody. This weekend, the record of the marathon was almost beaten … in Berlin, where the Ethiopian Kenenisa Bekele had preferred to compete.
The quality of the show and performances, the health of the athletes, the credibility of the competition will have been sacrificed in these Mondials organized in front of almost empty stands, which one even tried to garnish with paid workers for the occasion. Difficult to grow the passion of sport in a desert. A statement already made at the 2016 World Cycling Championships.
So many bitter expectations for the 2022 World Cup, which will take place far from the epicentres of football passion, in a park of oversized and useless stadiums, built in unworthy social conditions.
How can major competitions be entrusted to countries unable to offer them an audience? Under the influence of corruption, suggest investigations opened on the award of these championships by the IAAF and the FIFA World Cup. Under that of the economic power of a Qatar that has made world sport a tool of his diplomacy, at least.
But it is not so much towards Qatar that one has to turn – after all, its image is the expense of the debacle – only to the sporting bodies that surrender to their greed at the expense of the sportsmen, the public and the their own competitions.
No need to look very far. This weekend in Ligue 1, Lyon-Nantes began Saturday at 1:30 pm to please Chinese audiences (who may have seen the tifo for Tibet deployed in the stands). A penalizing schedule for fans and players, but in line with the priorities of the Professional Football League.
His Spanish counterpart has considered relocating meetings in the United States. Last season, the Barcelona-Girona Catalan "Derby" was scheduled for Miami, before FIFA vetoed it.
The Premier League had, ten years ago, the idea of having a "39th day" play for the foreigner. UEFA, meanwhile, let slip, last year, his desire to organize the final of the Champions League in New York …
The controversy surrounding the final final of the Europa League in Baku may have made the confederation think: the cost of dissuasive travel for supporters, insufficient air service, package Arsenal Armenian Henrikh Mkhitaryan due to threats to his compatriots …
UEFA's sympathies for Azerbaijan, to which it has also attributed Euro 2020 matches, can be explained by its links with the energy giant Socar, which became one of its major sponsors in 2013.
The country is emblematic of these regimes modestly called "authoritarian" who invest in the organization of competitions: European Games 2015, Grand Prix of Formula 1 since 2017.
The market is all the more open to them because, faced with the exorbitant cost and the falling social acceptability of major sporting events, which are gigantic, candidates are scarce. Scrupulousness with countries with little regard for human rights weigh less than ever.
FIFA, UEFA, the IAAF and the IOC have embarked on the same quest for enrichment as other sports business players, at the cost of giving up sport – that is to say impose limits on the only economic logic to protect the integrity of competitions and athletes, the interest of the public, the "values" proclaimed.
Las, competitions swell and multiply for profit, the image of football: Euro 2020 in twelve countries, World Cup 48 teams from 2026, League of Nations, third European Cup. Copa America has this year invited Japan and … Qatar.
FIFA and UEFA do not even fear, by selling their flagship competitions to the broadcasters, to deprive millions of fans.
The logic of globalization and the financialisation of sport obviously undermines its roots. International entertainment companies, European football clubs are coming to favor their fanbases in Asia or America rather than their local supporters. The stadium audience becomes accessory.
World Athletics shows that it can even be optional.