United States deserved 2022 World Cup, not Qatar, says Beckenbauer

NEW YORK -- Germany, Bayern Munich and New York Cosmos legend Franz Beckenbauer believes that after its successful World Cup in 1994, the United States deserved to host football's biggest event once again in 2022, and called the decision to use Qatar as the stage "strange."

"[In] '94 I was here to follow the World Cup and it was fantastic -- one of the best ever. And of course they deserved to host the World Cup in 2022," he said at a team event in New York on Friday.

"But they [FIFA] prefer a different market and the decision was made by the FIFA [Executive Committee] because of a new market. They'd like to conquer a new market -- Arabia.

"I know it was a very very strange decision -- I would not comment if it was a right or wrong decision, but this decision brought a lot of problems, a lot of questions."

Beckenbauer then posed and answered one of those questions himself:

"Can you play in the summertime in Qatar?" he asked.

"The answer is no -- I think I was one of the first to say, 'It's impossible to play in the summertime with a temperature between 40 and 50 degrees.' So the emir said, 'OK, we'll cool the stadium down,' and I said, 'It's best to cool the whole country down, because we have to get to the stadium...' 45 degrees, it's not even funny.

"It was a very strange decision and we're facing a lot of problems," the World Cup-winning player and manager concluded.

In terms of his understanding of the U.S. market, Beckenbauer had a lot of praise for countryman Jurgen Klinsmann, "a great player and a great coach" -- calling the U.S. Soccer Federation's decision to sign him an "excellent" one, and citing the USA's performance against Germany in the last World Cup as a mark of progress:

"The last World Cup in Brazil they lost against the World Cup winners 1-0, and at the end of the game the U.S. team were close to drawing the game -- they had some good chances," he admitted. "So they are in a good way, but it takes time. It's not a couple of years, it needs a generation to compete with the top teams in the world."

Beckenbauer also talked about his New York Cosmos days, and raised some wry smiles among New York journalists who'd been at Yankee Stadium for New York City FC's game with Philadelphia the night before or the U.S.-Mexico game at the Alamodome in San Antonio the night before that, when he recalled the indignities of his early appearances.

"In 1977 we played in a baseball stadium! It's not funny to play in a baseball stadium," he said. "I played on artificial turf. It's not easy to play on artificial turf, because at that time it was like a rock -- now it's fantastic to play."