The Islamic State of Iraq and Syria has been selected to host the 2026 World Cup, FIFA have revealed.
The bid was decided at a star-studded ceremony in Zurich, after what observers termed a “ruthlessly well-organised, take-no-prisoners style campaign”. FIFA President Sepp Blatter has defended the selection, noting that ISIS government policy, while ‘not perfect’, meets FIFA’s required ethical standards.
“At FIFA we believe that football is a truly global game,” he said. “That’s why we’ve chosen ISIS, an up-and-coming nation in the Middle East, to host the game.”
Alleged flaws in the human rights record of ISIS have made the choice highly controversial. One spot of contention has been the safety of Western football fans, who will, in the words of one ISIS spokesman, be ‘politely but firmly’ taken hostage and then killed regardless of religion. Blatter has suggested that these fans should stay at home.
It is also unclear whether air strikes will still be in operation against some of the venues. And Islamic State have yet to field an international team in football. “Their extremely radical interpretation of Islam doesn’t look kindly on playing football against non-Muslims,” explained one Sharia law expert. “They do have a strong local militant league with a growing youth squad, so they could be ones to watch in the future. Plus they’ve got lots of British-born talent going out there now to play.”
Blatter insisted that all ‘minor niggles’ would be ironed out by 2026. “I understand people may be sceptical, but I’d just like to assure fans that money changing hands did not play a role in our decision,” said Blatter. “We do it all by bank transfer now, it’s much easier.”