THE COUCH SLOUCH

Burning questions about how hot it will be at the 2022 World Cup in Qatar

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In November 2022 – just a scant three years from now – comes the next World Cup, in Qatar. This will set up one of the extraordinary, epic collisions in recorded human history:

The global game meets global warming.

(I know what you're thinking: Why can't I write about Baker Mayfield shaving his handlebar mustache or LeBron James' triple-double frenzy, or at least preview which nations are favored to win the World Cup? You want that stuff, go subscribe to The Athletic or marry Skip Bayless.)

(Do the words "existential threat" mean anything to you? I have been inspired by the 16-year-old Swede, Greta Thunberg; it's time to get up, get out and shout about something other than College Football Playoff rankings.)

Qatar is hot, baby. And getting hotter.

Temperatures in its capital city, Doha, have risen five degrees since 1962. Earlier this decade, during what can only be described as a particularly unforgiving heat wave, they recorded an all-time high reading of 122.7 degrees.

The average high temperature is Qatar in June and July – when the World Cup is typically played – is 108 degrees; the average low is in the mid 80s.

So, why oh why, we might wonder, would FIFA, soccer's international governing body, grant the World Cup to you-could-cook-an-egg-on-that-soccer-pitch Qatar?

Oh, I know, I know, I know!

$$$$$.

(That's the worldwide symbol for "lots of cash changing hands illicitly.")

Speaking of which, let's take a moment to celebrate FIFA, the IOC and the NCAA, the Mount Rushmore of autocratic, predatory, dystopian sporting warlords. For those of you new to the pillage-and-plunder game of monolithic athletic officialdom, IOC is short for International Olympic Committee, NCAA is short for National Collegiate Athletic Association and FIFA is short for Corrupt to the Core.

Anyway, upon further consideration, FIFA decided to push the 2022 World Cup back five months, to the milder climes of November and December.

It's still no picnic made in the shade then.

Several weeks ago, Doha hosted the world track and field championships. The start time of the women's marathon was moved to midnight, but with temperatures still near 90 degrees, 28 of the 68 runners failed to finish. First-aid responders literally outnumbered the competitors.

So when watching the 2022 World Cup, please note: They're not flopping, they're collapsing.

The next World Cup slogan is "Expect Amazing."

It should be: "Expect Amazingly Non-Ambulatory Athletes."

To combat the heat, Qatar is taking an unusual tack – it is air-conditioning the outdoors. Besides forced air cooling the playing fields, there will be vents under each stadium seat to comfort fans.

Now, I'm no rocket scientist – heck, I am barely a sports journalist – but while air conditioning relieves us from increasing heat, it is one of the causes of warming the planet, no? Qatar, by the way, is the largest per-capita emitter of greenhouse gases in the world, three times as much as the United States and almost six times as much as Stephen A. Smith.

If FIFA had any conscience – I realize this is a fantastical notion – it would tie the 2015 Paris Agreement to World Cup qualifying. If you are not part of that climate accord, you cannot participate in the World Cup. Now, that would be a game changer. Sure, current U.S. officials might not care much about climate change or the future of the planet, but they definitely would not want to miss on a chance to kick some Ukrainian butt on the soccer pitch.

You think I'm kidding here? We often make a big deal about sports making a difference and leading the way to societal change. Well, what better spot to be a leader than saving the Earth?

More realistically, Couch Slouch has two easy solutions to alleviate World Cup health dangers:

1. Play the games with a running a clock.

2. Reduce emissions of carbon dioxide, replace fossil fuels with renewable sources of energy, change what we eat and buy, consume less and waste less, travel smarter.

What, they already have a running clock? Dang. I guess we better do the other thing!

Ask The Slouch

Q. You seem to question student-athletes' rights to earn. Didn't you make money in college as a sportswriter? (M.J. Hunter; Naperville, Ill.)

A. I was a student-journalist at Maryland and got paid for my work in the campus newspaper – $6 for news articles, $4 for sports articles. This, in fact, jeopardized my amateur journalist status, but I chose to take the quick cash and dash my Fourth Estate Olympic dreams.

Q. If you put half the effort towards your column as your readers do when posing their thought-provoking questions, how much improvement would you see in your writing? (Jack Drury; Cumberland, Md.)

A. Uh, dunno.

Q. Politics is a blood sport in Washington, D.C. Keeping with this theme, will the impeachment hearings be commentated by Joe Buck? (Vince Banes; Silver Spring, Md.)

A. Pay the man, Shirley.

You, too, can enter the $1.25 Ask The Slouch Cash Giveaway. Just email asktheslouch@aol.com and, if your question is used, you win $1.25 in cash!


On Tuesday, the Houston Dynamo announced a commitment to develop 15 mini-pitches within the next five years in the Greater Houston area. The project is being led by the U.S. Soccer Foundation, former Dynamo defender and U.S. Soccer legend DaMarcus Beasley and Dynamo co-owners Jake Silverstein and Ben Guill.

Beasley and Guill visited with ESPN 97.5 FM morning show John & Raheel with Del to elaborate on the announcement and answer a few questions on the current state of the Houston Dynamo. The following are three notable quotes from the segment:

Dynamo co-owners approached DaMarcus Beasley

"It started, the idea, with Ben and the other minority owner Jake [Silverstein]. They came to me and asked me what I thought about this idea, about creating mini-pitches around Houston and it was a no-brainer for me. A hundred percent, I'm with the youth of soccer, because that's where the future is. Its in the youth, and to be able to be a part of this program and have this project here in Houston, it means a lot. And, the fact that we have their support - from the Houston Dynamo, the Dash, and a lot of people around Houston - its a no-brainer to start these pitches."

- DaMarcus Beasley, four-time FIFA World Cup participant with USA and former Dynamo team captain


DaMarcus Beasley took part in seeing out the creation of the first futsal courts in his hometown of Fort Wayne, Indiana last year. The U.S. Soccer Legend has publicly expressed his desire to remain in Houston and to be involved in youth development in his retirement, whether that be with the Houston Dynamo or elsewhere.

Two months removed from capping off a 20-year career, Beasley has taken on his first post-retirement project and one that shows his potential of filling the void as a much needed connection between the ownership group of the club and the Houston soccer community.

2026 FIFA World Cup "a big part of it"

"Clearly its a big part of it but - even without the World Cup coming up - Jake Silverstein, who has become very involved with U.S. Soccer in Portland and has built some of these mini-pitches, and I decided it's just the right thing to do. It's the right thing to bring the game to parts of the city that don't have the opportunity to play in a safe and fun environment. We work with U.S. Soccer and have commited a bunch of money to build 15 of these mini-pitches over the next five years. It will be important to the 2026 bid and hopefully it will be very good for the Dynamo as well."

- Ben Guill, Houston Dynamo minority owner and board member of Houston 2026 World Cup Bid Committee

The biggest side effect of the United States hosting the 1994 FIFA World Cup was the creation of Major League Soccer, the country's longest-running first division league that will celebrate its 25th season next year. With the USA joint-hosting the 2026 FIFA World Cup with Canada and Mexico, it seems the youth game could stand next to benefit.

This initiative comes from the Houston 2026 World Cup Bid Committee Grow the Game strategy and "is part an overall vision for Houston that seeks to create and maintain 30 mini-pitches and expand the U.S. Soccer Foundation's Soccer for Success program in the area."

It is also part of the U.S. Soccer Foundation's plans to install 1,000 pitches by 2026 as part of their national It's Everyone's Game movement "to create greater access to the sport and its benefits in underserved communities nationwide."

The Houston Dynamo and other MLS clubs have already installed several of these futsal-style "mini-pitches" as part of their charitable programs in conjunction with an MLS WORKS initiative that began at the 2015 MLS All-Star Game.

Making Dynamo, Dash more relevant in Houston

"The important thing for the Dynamo is we need to do a better job and be more a part of the Houston community. We need to fill up that stadium every game. One reason, its a lot of fun to go and we hope with that efforts like this, that Jake and I are doing, and all the efforts the team make - the Dynamo and the Dash - will just make us more and more relevant to the city."

- Ben Guill, Houston Dynamo minority owner and board member of Houston 2026 World Cup Bid Committee


There's no secret the Houston Dynamo, and Houston Dash, have trouble filling up BBVA Stadium on a consistent basis. The average for Dynamo matches has declined steadily since the 2015 season and reached a new club-low in 2019.

The Houston-based Guill is right about one thing: the Dynamo could potentially make up a lot of ground by extending the olive branch to the community.

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