FIFA President Sepp Blatter's admission that the world soccer governing body's decision to award the 2022 World Cup to Qatar was "a mistake" is one of those "no kidding" moments when common sense appears to have taken a vacation. Too bad Blatter waited 3½ years to finally admit that placing his sport's premier event in a tiny (smaller than Connecticut) Arab emirate with no soccer tradition and where summer temperatures often soar above 100 degrees was not such a hot idea. "Of course, it was a mistake," he said earlier this month. "One comes across a lot of mistakes in life." What other major sports events have been put in the wrong place or at the wrong time?
2 of 12AP
1968 Mexico City Olympics
Mexico City sits at 7,300-foot altitude, thin air that contains only one-third of the oxygen at sea level. Olympic officials assured critics that the altitude would have little effect on athletes. But what turned into world-record conditions for sprinters such as Jim Hines, Tommie Smith and Lee Evans and for long jumper Bob Beamon became a nightmare for athletes competing in endurance events. Altitude-bred runners from Africa dominated the distance races in track as Australia's Ron Clarke, the world-record holder at 5,000 and 10,000 meters, failed to medal. He collapsed after the 10,000 and was unconscious for 10 minutes. American Jim Ryun, the world-record holder in the 1,500 meters (pictured), could only manage a silver medal behind Kenya's Kipchoge Keino. There also was violence. Ten days before the Games opened, Mexican soldiers and police fired on unarmed student protesters, killing at least 250.
3 of 12Charlie Neibergall/AP
World Series home field goes to All-Star Game winner
Fans could say baseball Commissioner Bud Selig (pictured) overreacted just a bit when a disappearance of pitchers caused the 2002 All-Star Game in his hometown of Milwaukee to end in a tie. Instead of simply increasing All-Star rosters to ensure future games would be played to conclusion, Selig ruled that the winning league in all subsequent Midsummer Classics would gain home-field advantage for the World Series. In other words, a glorified exhibition would decide which league champion would host potential Games 6 and 7 in baseball's signature event. No visiting team has won a World Series Game 7 since 1979, so this is a major advantage. Critics said Selig was seeking to help Fox draw more eyeballs to the All-Star Game. Selig argued he wanted to restore the luster to a game that had once been appointment television for millions of baseball fans. Yet All-Star Game TV ratings -- and World Series viewership -- have fallen far below what they were before Selig's decision.
4 of 12Simon Bruty/SI
Super Bowl XLV in Arlington
It can get cold in north Texas during winter, sometimes very cold. Yet the NFL and the Dallas-Fort Worth Metroplex seemed ill-prepared when a winter storm clobbered the area with ice and snow in the week before the game on Feb. 6, 2011. Snow fell from the roof of Cowboys Stadium, injuring six people. Many streets were impassable and pre-game transportation was a constant challenge. The weather improved by kickoff (pictured), but a delay in the installation of 1,250 temporary seats (Cowboys owner Jerry Jones had hoped to set a single-game Super Bowl attendance record) left hundreds of fans without a seat to watch the game. Those fans with seats were tested by lines of up to an hour or more to get into the stadium. Oh, yes. The Green Bay Packers defeated the Pittsburgh Steelers, 31-25.
5 of 12Heinz Kluetmeier/SI
1996 Atlanta Olympic Games
A combination of poor transportation, over-commercialization, a balky computer system and steamy weather combined for a most uncomfortable experience for Georgia's international audience. Unlike Mexico City, which staged its Olympics in October, Atlanta chose a July-August schedule. This guaranteed hot temperatures and hotter tempers when out-of-town bus drivers, hired solely for the Olympics, had no idea how to navigate the often traffic-clogged roadways of greater Atlanta. Making matters worse, the event was marred by a bomb that went off in Centennial Olympic Park.
6 of 12David E. Klutho/SI
Frozen Fours in the Sun Belt
College hockey is a Frost Belt sport with only one major program south of the Mason-Dixon Line and none west of the Rockies. A sensible fan might think the NCAA semifinals and final (called the Frozen Four since 1999) should be played in cities closest to those campuses, where hockey enjoys the greatest popularity. But starting in 1999, in an effort to grow the sport, the NCAA has staged Frozen Fours in Sun Belt locations far from competing schools. First there was Anaheim in '99, a California location that couldn't have been a more distant for the two finalists, Maine and New Hampshire. Tampa followed in 2012 (pictured), putting fans from Boston College and Ferris State (Mich.) a long way from home. Tampa is slated for another Frozen Four in 2016, even though there is only one Division I hockey program based in the South.
7 of 12Louis Van Oeyen/Western Reserve Historical Society/Getty Images
Title fight in Shelby, Montana
Even today, reaching Shelby, in remote northwest Montana, is a test for travelers. Nearly a century ago it was beyond the reach of all but the most avid boxing fans. Yet city fathers, giddy over the recent discovery of oil on local land, pictured thousands of boxing fans pouring into Shelby to watch heavyweight champion Jack Dempsey, one of the most popular athletes of the era, battle challenger Tommy Gibbons on the Fourth of July. Not quite. Dempsey retained his title in a unanimous 15-round decision but the real loser was Shelby. Fewer than 8,000 fans paid to see the bout in the massive temporary arena. Shelby, which had shelled out hundreds of thousands of dollars in guaranteed money to both fighters, fell hard. Four local banks went bankrupt and Shelby's dreams of becoming a vacation mecca disappeared for good.
8 of 12Andy Hayt/SI
Super Bowl XVI in Pontiac
The first cold-weather Super Bowl -- on Jan. 24, 1982 -- was terrific theater for at-home fans as the San Francisco 49ers' 26-21 win over the Cincinnati Bengals drew a record 49.1 Nielsen rating, highest in Super Bowl history. It was far different for fans trying to drive to the game. Pontiac's distance from Detroit (about 30 miles), icy roads and Vice President George H.W. Bush's motorcade created a series of traffic jams that caused many fans to miss the opening kickoff.
9 of 12Rich Clarkson/SI
1968, 1972 NCAA Final Fours
The UCLA Bruins of coach John Wooden were college basketball's greatest dynasty, winning 10 NCAA titles between 1964 and '75. These uber-talented teams certainly needed no help from the NCAA, yet the 1968 and 1972 Final Fours were played at the L.A. Memorial Sports Arena, just a few miles from UCLA's Westwood campus. The '68 team, led by Lew Alcindor, Mike Warren and Lucius Allen, destroyed unbeaten Houston in the semifinals and battered North Carolina in the championship game. UCLA's '72 squad of Bill Walton, Keith Wilkes and Henry Bibby defeated Louisville and then edged Florida State for the Bruins' sixth straight title. Two years later, however, the tables were turned as North Carolina State ended UCLA's run of seven straight championships by winning the 1974 NCAA crown on what amounted to a home court in Greensboro, N.C.
10 of 12Popperfoto/Getty Images
1904 St. Louis Olympic Games
The third Olympics of the modern era originally were awarded to Chicago, whose staging of the 1893 World's Fair was an international smash. But when St. Louis, which was hosting its own World's Fair in 1904, threatened to stage an athletic festival in direct competition with Chicago, President Theodore Roosevelt persuaded the International Olympic Committee to move the Games to Missouri. Oops. The St. Louis Olympics drew only 12 nations to a meandering event that took nearly five months to complete and played second fiddle to the city's World's Fair. Fred Lorz of the U.S. originally was awarded the gold medal in the marathon until it was discovered he had dropped out of the race at 9 miles and hitched a ride in a car. When the car broke down near the stadium, Lorz jogged the final miles and crossed the finish line ahead of the legitimate runners.
11 of 12Fred Vuich/SI
2013 U.S. Open at Merion
During a simpler time, the Merion course outside Philadelphia was a classic Open venue. But in an era of massive media and corporate hospitality tents, the club's cramped (to put it kindly) environment no longer meets even the most modest of professional tournament standards. During the 2013 Open, won by England's Justin Rose, neighborhood back yards were enlisted to serve as an interview area and locker room. Private homes became hospitality centers. The course can only accommodate 25,000 fans, far fewer than most Open sites. As ESPN's Rick Reilly noted, Merion is "the size of a casserole dish" or like playing "in your favorite grandmother's attic." The Open had not been played at Merion since 1981. It could be at least another 32 years before the tournament returns.
12 of 12Mario Tama/Getty Images
Rio de Janeiro Olympic Games?
The 2016 Rio de Janeiro Olympic Games could be one of the most titanic screw-ups in the history of international sport. IOC officials say no previous Olympic site has ever been so far behind its construction schedule just two years before the opening of the Games.
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