One of the oldest con games around is the old “bait and switch”. Today an example of that con is on display at the World Cup games in Qatar. After pretending that fans who came to Qatar to see the tournament games would be allowed to drink beer under controlled circumstances even though public consumption of alcohol is illegal in Qatar, the government announced late last week that there will be no beer sales or beer drinking in public for the games. Many commentators have labeled this an “abrupt about face” by the Qatari officials; please, call it what it is, it is bait and switch.
The timing of the announcement was perfect; it became known just as lots of fans traveling to see the games were in the boarding process for their flights to Doha. It seems to me this was not “accidental” or “coincidental”.
FIFA has over the last couple of decades done some virtue-signaling expressly trying to hold the World Cup Tournament in “less developed places” such as South Africa (Who can ever forget the vuvuzelas?) and now in a fabulously wealthy – but tiny – country like Qatar. [Aside: Not to worry, palms were greased to get those Tournaments to those virtuous sites.] But this set of events might make the FIFA folks think twice about “doing business” with a theocratic state. According to reports, Budweiser is a FIFA sponsor and coughs up $75M per year for that sponsorship opportunity. The corporate overlords for Budweiser cannot be happy with this turn of events.
Two games have happened in the Tournament as of this morning. Ecuador beat Qatar 2-0 in the opening game and England beat Iran 3-0 in Group B competition. Group B is where the US Men’s Team will be competing.
Switching gears … The Toronto Argonauts beat the Winnipeg Blue Bombers 24-23 in the CFL Grey Cup game last evening. The game was held in Regina, Saskatchewan at the home field of the Saskatchewan Roughriders. The Blue Bombers had won the last two Grey Cup championships and were favored in this game. The Argonauts were down 23-14 in the fourth quarter and rallied to take the lead with less than 5 minutes to play. The Blue Bombers got within field goal range but had the field goal attempt to win the game blocked with under a minute left on the clock.
My TV remote got a workout last night going back and forth between the Grey Cup game and the Bengals/Steelers game first and then for the early part of the Chiefs/Chargers game. CFL games are quite different from NFL games or even college football games. It takes a moment for me to adjust my thinking about the game and the strategic decisions within the game, but once I do, I find CFL games to be quite entertaining.
Next up … Perhaps you have followed to some degree the collapse of FTX – the cryptocurrency trading exchange. One bit of fallout for the sports world – – other than the decline of cryptocurrency values and the effect that has had on athletes who chose to take all or part of their contract money in cryptocurrency – – is that the folks in Miami have a basketball arena named by FTX. The agreement between FTX and Miami began in the Spring of 2021 and was supposed to run for 19 years at a cost to FTX of $135M. Well, FTX is not in any position to live up to that agreement now and the folks in Miami are out and about seeking a new naming rights sponsor for the venue where the Miami Heat play their home games.
Just a guess, but I don’t think the Miami folks will be contacting anyone from Enron about this sponsorship opportunity…
Moving on … Subsequent to the World Series, MLB Commissioner, Rob Manfred, was asked about the status of two franchises with attendance issues – – the Tampa Bay Rays and the Oakland A’s. Manfred was optimistic about the Rays being able to stay in the Tampa area but was less sanguine about the situation in Oakland. The resolution of the issues in these two cities is important for MLB and its fans because Manfred said that baseball would look to expand and add two new teams once the stadium issues in Tampa and in Oakland are resolved. Here is what the Commish had to say about the two situations:
“I’ve got a lot of faith in Stu Sternberg (owner of the Tampa Bay Rays). I think they will find a place to get a ballpark built. I think baseball can thrive in Tampa.”
“I think the mayor in Oakland has made a huge effort to try to get it done in Oakland; it just doesn’t look like it’s going to happen.”
[Aside: The Oakland mayor is leaving office this year so any negotiations that may have been ongoing will surely need to take a moment to reset starting next year.]
Manfred also said that the A’s cannot continue to play in whatever the Oakland Coliseum calls itself this month. The lease on that stadium by the A’s runs through the end of 2024. It seems clear to me that there will not be a new stadium ready for business in the Spring of 2025 since there is not deal in place now that will allow for groundbreaking in the next 48-72 hours. I t will be interesting to see how the focus of negotiations might change as the end of the current lease gets closer and closer.
Regarding the situation in Tampa, I wonder why the Commissioner is as optimistic as he seems to be. The idea of putting a new stadium in “downtown Tampa” was put to rest; so, it would seem as if there has been no real progress in that part of the world. Did Manfred just tip his hand…?
Finally, Dwight Perry will retire in two weeks. He announced that in his column, Sideline Chatter, in the Seattle Times last weekend. Currently, that column runs every Sunday in the paper – – but there were times when it ran 5 days a week. I wonder if the column has become an institution in the Seattle area such that it needs to be carried on. If that turns out to be the case, let me say before the fact that Dwight Perry will be a tough act to follow. Here is his “retirement announcement”:
“I will retire Dec. 3 after 23½ years at The Seattle Times and 51-plus in the newspaper industry, so my final column will appear Sunday, Dec. 4.
“Now we rejoin Sideline Chatter, already in progress …”
Bonne chance, Dwight Perry…
But don’t get me wrong, I love sports………