Is democracy a threat to the World Cup?

When FIFA chose the hosts for the 2018 and 2022 World Cups it picked the two least democratic countries from the list of bidding nations. Qatar is an absolute monarchy, and Russia, while technically a democracy, is virtually a one-party state.

With such infinite power it is hard to question the ability of the Russian and Qatari governments to put on a show. Not only do both have fantastic resources at their disposal, but they also are under no pressure to justify their actions to a demanding electorate. They are thus free to lavish these resources on whatever might take their fancy.

The difference between democratic and non-democratic nations holding sporting tournaments is acutely clear in the run up to the 2012 Olympics in London. Where Chinese authorities in Beijing could do absolutely anything, even jailing dissidents and forcibly evicting many of their own citizens to make way for construction, the organising committee in London has struggled to explain a ballooning budget and to live up to promises made.

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