I know it’s easy to bag and bust on the choice of Qatar as a World Cup site. I certainly have.
It’s a silly choice, and most of us would love to think it’s just a bad dream, like the one where you’re back in school at the end of a lost semester, about to take a huge test without a chance in heck of passing the doggone thing. (You have that one, too, right?)
But this thing is happening. Qatar and a World Cup. Heaven help us and please pass the sunscreen.
The weekend brought us reports that Qatar would purchase tanks and other heavy weapons from Germany ahead of the 2022 World Cup. Cue the snark and the outrage over a World Cup and how, as one PST reader wondered, if armament is required then “maybe they should rethink the idea of having the tournament in such an unstable, violence prone region.”
Here’s the deal: security at a World Cup is serious, serious business. As it should be. All contingencies, starting at terrible and ranging up to the unthinkable, must be considered – not just in Qatar, but at all of them.
I feel a little uneasy about this subject; I’m pretty well-versed in soccer but I am no security expert. I do, however, know this:
I have walked plenty of times into stadium areas being used as pre-game tactical staging points, and the arms at the ready are substantially intimidating.
I know that this big monster to the right (above right, in the photo), along with a bunch that looked just like it, was parked about a quarter of a mile from my hotel room in Hamburg during World Cup 2006. (Which means it was less than a mile from where the United States was based that summer in Germany.)
I know that plenty of domestic police departments have light armored vehicles. Apparently, it’s not just the city and county entities getting into the heavy weapons security act.
I know that F-16s are at the ready during Super Bowls right here in our land; as targets of opportunity, I’d put a World Cup up there with a Super Bowl, right?
And I happened to be a cubbie reporter during the 1992 riots in Los Angeles; I sat on a balcony watching armored vehicles control curfew after dark.
There are bad people out there. We all know that. If tanks, even as deterrent, are in order to ensure that people like me are writing about soccer in 2022 and not about something far more awful, then I’m OK with having the hulking vehicles around. After all, haven’t they always been around, or close by at very least, at World Cups for a long, long time?