The Gulf State has been in the headlines for both good and bad reasons regarding the tournament.
With just seven days left for football’s premium competition to kick off, Qatar will be more than ready to welcome fans from 31 different countries for the grand event. There’s no reason why they shouldn’t be, especially when the money they’ve spent for the tournament is taken into consideration.
In fact, a recent report claims that the tiny state in the Arabian Peninsula has spent a staggering $200 billion for this year’s World Cup, making it the highest-ever money spent for an international sports tournament. The figure is 20 times more than what the previous hosts Russia had spent for the quadrennial event, and a whopping $185 billion more than what Brazil, the previous highest spenders, had invested for the competition in 2014.
The report further states that only $6.5 billion has been spent on the construction of stadiums, training grounds, accommodation for teams, and facilities for supporters. So today, we break down the reasons behind Qatar spending the gargantuan sum of money, where the money has been invested, and if Qatar really deserved this World Cup bid.
Need for more stadiums
The Lusail Stadium is one of the 7 stadia built for this year’s World Cup.
Prior to their World Cup bid in 2010, the Khalifa International Stadium was the only footballing ground in Qatar. Fast forward to 2022 and the Gulf nation now has seven more stadiums, all air-conditioned, coming with brilliant exterior designs, and having the capacity to hold at least 40,000 inside.
The shocker here is that the development of these stadiums only started in 2017 and was completed within the space of 4 years. The reported sum for the constructions was a total of $6.5 billion, double what France had spent for the entire tournament as hosts in 1998. In fact, only the hosts of World Cup 2002 i.e. Japan and Korea have spent more than that for hosting the entire event.
A fraction of the sum is also reported to have been spent on developing team bases, facilities for fans, and also modernizing the old Khalifa Stadium for this year’s World Cup. All of the 7 stadiums have been well-tested, and have hosted major tournaments before, such as the FIFA Arab Cup and Emir Cup finals.
Regardless of how their team performs, fans are surely in for a treat at these venues.
A lack of facilities
The Katara Towers, containing two luxury hotels, were completed for this year’s World Cup.
Qatar’s bid for the world cup came as a surprise for everyone. Despite being one of the most economically strong countries in the world, Qatar lacked a lot of facilities for a World tournament, especially as the sole host. Accommodation facilities were scarce, and despite the government’s cash injection, they still continue to be.
With the Qatari government promising to provide over 130,000 hotel rooms to the fans, a total of 105 new hotels have been developed for the tournament. However, in a report from earlier in march this year, only 33,000 rooms were reported for the tournament, with 80% of such rooms being booked for teams, sponsors, and officials by the governing body FIFA itself.
Hence, fans could be compelled to stay in neighboring countries like Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Oman, and Kuwait, giving rise to widespread criticism and complaint among the 1.5 million traveling faithful.
Fatma Al Nuaimi, Communications Executive Director for the tournament, said in an interview, “We, as hosts, want to ensure that we deliver world-class facilities to the fans. For us, it’s far beyond merely hosting this tournament. We want to bring people together and build a legacy of our own.”
It is estimated that Qatar had spent more than $36 billion on the development of the Doha Metro line alone. Only opened in 2019, the underground transport is set to be pivotal for fans traveling to stadiums, and around the city in general.
The Hamad International Airport was another costly infrastructural development project.
Hamad International Airport was also another costly element. Originally planned to open in 2008, unavoidable delays caused it to officially open in 2014, and Qatar has since spent roughly $16 billion developing it in recent years. Much of the reported sum of $200 billion was also invested in developing Lusail, a former village, into a fully modern city.
Fatma Al Nuaimi again claimed that the World Cup is a part of Qatar’s long-term development plan. “It is a part of the Qatar National Vision 2030, a long-term government strategy promoting the continued development of urban and national infrastructures and industry, along with education and healthcare systems.”, she said in a recent interview.
“Most of these large-scale infrastructure projects, which will be used by teams and fans in 2022, such as new roads, a subway, an airport, hotels and other tourist facilities were planned even before we obtained the right to host the World Cup.”
A deserved bid?
Borussia Dortmund fans displaying ‘Boycott Qatar 2022’ banners in a Bundesliga match. (Image Source: talkSPORT)
This year’s World Cup has been a lot more controversial than many expected. From an allegedly ‘corrupted’ bid to the treatment of its foreign workers, Qatar has come under a lot of scrutinies over the last few years.
Former president of FIFA Sepp Blatter, who led the organization at the time of the bid, is one of many to criticize the upcoming tournament. Earlier this November, Blatter labeled that making Qatar the host of the World Cup was a mistake.
“It was a bad choice. And I was responsible for that as president at the time,” said Blatter. “It’s a country too small for the World Cup.”
Qatar’s treatment of its migrant workers has also been heavily criticized by people around the world. A report from 2021 revealed that around 6500 migrant workers from Bangladesh, India, Pakistan, Nepal, and Sri Lanka died in the last decade during the construction of World Cup venues. An earlier report reveals that the workers had to live in harsh conditions and most weren’t paid timely wages for their work.
Football fans all over the globe have been protesting against this tournament, with ‘Boycott Qatar 2022’ banners being seen in stadiums across Europe. Former footballers and coaches also have seemed to join this movement, with former Germany captain Philipp Lahm being one of the more notable advocates.
“Human rights should play an important role in awarding tournaments. If a country that does poorly in that area gets the award (of hosting), then you have to think about what criteria the decision was based on,” Lahm told in an interview.