When FIFA selected Qatar as the first Middle Eastern country to host the Men’s Football World Cup in 2022, some considered it a bold gamble. Others thought it was a mistake – including former FIFA president Sepp Blatter.
Since then, the controversy has never shied away from a mega-event, which is now less than a year away. In addition to allegations of bribery during the bidding process, serious concerns about human rights have also been raised, particularly with regard to migrant workers building the new stadium.
Whether these issues will eventually prevent supporters from traveling to Qatar in late 2022 remains to be seen. Organizers certainly would not like to repeat the incident when Qatar hosted the 2019 IAAF World Athletics Championships, which took place in a half-empty stadium.
Football has more global appeal than athletics, and so far both Qatar and FIFA are optimistic that millions of fans from around the world will travel to the Gulf. The event is certainly “unique” in terms of sporting events and may pique the interest of fans. No expense has been spared by Qatar to provide this unique experience, that is for sure. He has certainly spent big in the lead-up to the tournament.
Even at the beginning of 2010, the total cost to Qatar was estimated in the region of US$65 billion (£48 billion) – a different level to the then-record-breaking US$14 billion that Russia hosted the tournament in 2018. was spent in Recent reports, however, cite costs closer to US$300 billion.
The reason for such a staggering amount is not just grandeur. The actual cost of the stadium, approximately US$10 billion, is low in relation to the estimated total. Big money has been spent on infrastructure and transportation projects in the country. Some of this was planned anyway, with the upcoming tournament only spurring development.
There’s also a bigger picture at play here. In many ways, it has never been about money for Qatar, one of the richest countries in the world.
The primary advantage Qatar seeks is non-commercial, international relations at its heart, and the opportunity to present itself to billions of people around the world. This has given rise to allegations of “sportswashing”. It can be defined as using sporting events as a way of gaining legitimacy or improving reputation and has been used in the context of Qatar 2022 in view of the controversies mentioned above.
Despite the negative press, Qatar will be encouraged by its latest entry into major international sporting events, including the inaugural Qatar Grand Prix in Formula One. The race was the first of a three-part finale of the F1 season in the Middle East which also includes races in Saudi Arabia and Abu Dhabi. This could help keep Qatar at a comparable level with its Arab neighbors in another very marketable game.
Such events, along with the 2022 Men’s World Cup, are designed to provide a legacy both socially and culturally – a legacy that creates a national identity and places Qatar as a legitimate actor on the world stage. .
Yet although money may not be an object for the hosts, one organization that is hoping to create something is FIFA. Their entire business model is built around a successful World Cup. Russia 2018 helped FIFA generate record revenue of US$6.4 billion, much of which has been spent on “education and development”, and it will be expecting similar acquisitions from Qatar 2022. In the same way, the tournament to hold FIFA’s (widely condemned) proposals every two years is largely driven by a desire for higher earnings.
So while Qatar and FIFA have different goals, both sides need the rest of the world to play the ball. It is worth noting that in order to do this, most men’s domestic professional football leagues have changed their schedules to allow the 2022 competition to be held in the months of November and December for the first time.
If time works, and Qatar’s non-commercial plans are achievable, it will certainly aim to become a regular major player in the sports event hosting market – hence the need to see bids to host future Olympic Games. Expect. Money will never be an object here again. Qatar will undoubtedly perform for the World Cup. A show she hopes the rest of the world will see.