If you turned on ESPN2 after you woke up this morning, you may have noticed the opening game of the Concederation’s Cup in South Africa kicking off. The Con Cup is essentially a fabricated event, put on by FIFA as a tune-up for the World Cup a year before the larger event kicks off; a way to test the host country’s ability to put on the real show 12 months later.
(You’re paying $500,000-1 million for this team to get crushed in Africa.)
This 2009 Con. Cup got started with a match between the host, South Africa, and Iraq. Wait, Iraq is at an international soccer tournament? How are they paying for it? Well, that’s a good question, particularly since it’s probably setting the nation back at least $500,000 to get to the event and stay there for its duration. The last time we checked, much of that funding was still coming directly from American taxpayers’ pockets.
How did we come up with that total? Well, flying out of Iraq is prohibitively expensive. If the Iraqi soccer team flew directly from Dubai to South Africa, that would only cost them $1,022 per person, for a total of somwhere in the realm of $35,000-40,000 (assuming they flew domestic coach on the cheapest rate possible from Emirates Air). Unfortunately, those flights are definitely not available to the Iraqi team, which means they have to charter a plane from Baghdad. Cost? At least $400,000 (if they’re getting some sort of a U.S. military break on the service).
Add in the hotel costs — 10-14 nights for some 30-odd people — and at the cheapest rates available, you’re adding another $40,000-50,000. Lump in the cost of added security for the players and coaches, and the total is easily in the half a million dollar-range.
Don’t get us wrong: We love international soccer more than just about anyone. But that doesn’t mean we can justify spending $500,000 of tight-funding from a war-torn country where Iraqis struggle to maintain electrical power and refrigeration during the 110-degree+ summer heat.
Last year, the U.S. spent $12 billion in Iraq. Granted, $500,000-$1 million for a soccer team to go compete in South Africa may seem like small potatoes compared to that lump sum, but it’s still an incredibly significant amount to pay when you consider the fact that this Iraqi team has practically zero chance of winning a single game at the competition. It was stonewalled by — and should have lost to — South Africa, and is almost sure to be dropped by both European champion Spain and Oceanic region champions New Zealand.
So, what’s more important, military funding or a sacrificial lamb of a soccer team? It’s your call, or at least it should be. After all, you’re paying for it …
$1022.46 per person to fly x 30 = $60,600
$30,000-40,000 in accomodation