2022 World Cup in Qatar - Will it be a disaster?
By: Riley Day
Nov. 22, 2022
Photo Credit: The Athletic
First 2022 World Cup Match Set to Kickoff
According to Christina Goldbaum of the New York Times, Qatar was “racing to be ready to host” the World Cup, which kicked-off on Nov. 20th. Qatar, a small but extremely wealthy Arab country, spent over $200 billion to adequately prepare for the tournament, the most ever spent by a host nation.
Since Qatar was awarded the hosting bid in 2010, many concerns and controversies have followed, including accusations of bribery from the United States (the runner-up finishers for hosting in 2022). However, it would be unrealistic to say that Qatar has not tried their best to make the first World Cup held in an Arab country a success, similar to South Africa’s hosting in 2010. South Africa raked in $3.65 billion from its bid, and did an excellent job putting African soccer on the map.
Obstacles Preventing Qatar from achieving South Africa’s Success
So what exactly is preventing Qatar from emulating South Africa’s success and putting Arab soccer on the map? One hurdle may be beyond their control: extreme weather. This fall in Qatar, temperatures were regularly in the 90s. These brutal conditions are not sustainable for athletes who run, on average, 6 to 8.5 miles every game. Qatar addressed the issue by installing climate-controlled fields that maintain a cool 69 degrees Fahrenheit, addressing a massive problem.
Additionally, Qatar has faced some backlash for showing favoritism towards certain “influential fans.” Qatar’s treatment of the American Outlaws (super-fans of the United States National Team) serves as a prime example. The Sport Business Journal reported that Qatar has been handpicking fans to receive compensated tickets, flights, and housing in order to attend the World Cup. These invitations went out in September and targeted “some of the most well-connected and well-known fan leaders backing the 32 teams participating.” According to the SBJ, the hidden meaning of these invitations is for these influential fans to “amplify messages from the organizers to support the World Cup by liking and resharing third-party posts that are discussing it.” maybe add concluding sentence that summarizes points
Allegations of Human Rights Abuses
A 42 page guide titled the “Human Rights Guide for Reporters” has been published by Human Rights Watch. “The tournament’s dark side is overshadowing football,” said Minky Worden, director of global initiatives at Human Rights Watch (HRW). Serious abuses of migrant workers, even deaths, have occurred since preparations first began in 2010. Part of the blame falls on FIFA, who granted Qatar a hosting bid with “no human rights due diligence and no set conditions about protections for migrant workers who would be needed to construct the massive infrastructure,” according to HRW.
As the governing body of international soccer, FIFA is responsible for protecting migrant workers and preventing these types of abuses. Throughout the preparation process, they failed to “impose conditions to protect workers and became a complacent enabler to the widespread abuse workers suffered, including illegal recruitment fees, wage theft, injuries, and deaths.”
FIFA certainly is not lacking in resources to protect these workers either. Considering the fact that they are expecting to generate over $6 billion in revenue, there was ample opportunity to make Qatar 2022 a safe environment for all those participating. Due to greed or simple ineptitude, those measures were not taken.
Qatar has spent approximately $220 billion, including infrastructure costs to build eight new stadiums, an expansion of the airport, a new metro, and multiple new hotels. Eight new stadiums also raises another possible issue: white elephants. Usually associated with the Olympic Games, white elephants are facilities that sit unused after a large global sporting event concludes. With the sheer amount of new facilities and lack of planning ahead thus far, there is doubt that much thought has gone into how the facilities will be utilized post World Cup — and that’s another concern that will need to be addressed.