Qatar’s lack of infrastructure and soccer tradition, combined with questions about the country’s human rights record and bribery allegations, made it the most controversial World Cup host nation ever when it was picked back in 2010.
Nearly four years later, as the 2022 World Cup fast approaches, those initial questions haven’t been answered.
In fact, things seems to be getting worse.
1. A human rights agency estimates that 4,000 construction workers will die building World Cup-related infrastructure.
The International Trade Union Confederation reports that 1,200 migrant workers from Nepal and India have died in Qatar since the country won the World Cup back in 2010.
Qatar and FIFA recently developed a new human rights protocol to deal with the allegations, but human rights watchers say they don’t go far enough.
2. There are widespread bribery allegations. The 10-year-old daughter of a disgraced FIFA official who voted for Qatar reportedly received a $US3.4 million payment a year after the vote.
FIFA executive committee member Ricardo Teixeira of Brazil stepped down in 2012 amid bribery allegations after voting for the Qatar World Cup. The payment to Teixeira’s daughter was believed to be made by ex-Barcelona FC president Sandro Rosell, the Telegraph reports, who brokered a $US210 million sponsorship deal with the Qatar Foundation a week after the World Cup vote.
3. It’s 120 degrees in summer so they will probably have to play the tournament in winter.
During the bidding process, Qatar said they would host the event in summer. Now pretty much everyone has abandoned that idea, and FIFA will vote on moving the tournament to the winter next year.
4. Including supporting infrastructure, it’s going to cost $US200 billion — four times the amount Russia spent on the historically expensive Sochi Olympics — to stage the World Cup in Qatar.
5. Mohamed Bin Hammam, a Qatari FIFA vice president who has since been banned for life, allegedly gave out $US5 million in bribes before and after the vote.
The Sunday Times obtained “millions” of documents and emails that allegedly show Bin Hammam systematically bribing soccer officials, many of them from Africa, in order to secure votes for Qatar.
In the wake of the bombshell report, UEFA president Michel Platini and others called for a re-vote if the allegations are proven true.
6. The futuristic air-conditioned stadiums that Qatar promised to build aren’t actually possible.
Qatar promised to build space-age stadiums that had unprecedented cooling technology so that the games could be played in around 80-degree conditions during the summer. But there’s not much evidence that this is going to actually happen. According to ESPN, the architecture firm that will build the stadium said “the system is too expensive and ‘notoriously unsustainable’ for the environment when used on a large scale.”
7. Playing it in winter will totally screw up the European leagues.
For many of these huge global stars, the club matters more than the country. While the World Cup is a huge event, postponing the English, Spanish, and Italian leagues for a few months in the middle of the year will be a headache for everyone involved.
8. FIFA’s own internal evaluation slammed Qatar before the vote.
FIFA wrote long, detailed reports on each country’s bid before its executive committee members voted on a 2022 World Cup host city. In each of those reports was an operational risk assessment for things like stadium construction, transportation, and accommodations.
In 8 of the 9 categories, FIFA gave Qatar either a “medium” of “high” risk rating. The U.S. was “low risk” in 8 of 9 categories.
9. Qatar is already reducing the number of stadiums it promised to build.
Originally, Qatar planned to build 10 world-class stadiums in a 25km-wide radius.
That is the height of waste.
It’s like building 10 Cowboys Stadiums in Dallas and only using them for two weeks. Now there are reports that they’re scaling back the number of total stadiums to eight amid rising costs.
10. Another disgraced FIFA official, Jack Warner, was allegedly paid $US2 million by a Qatari firm after voting for Qatar.
Warner, who was once caught on tape talking about accepting bribes, was banned for life by FIFA’s ethics committee in 2011. The FBI is currently investigating $US2 million in payments made to Warner and his family from a Qatari firm owned by Bin Hammam shortly after the Qatar World Cup vote.
11. Qatar is allegedly using “modern-day slavery” to build the infrastructure.
The Guardian had a big report about the mistreatment of Nepalese migrant workers in Qatar. The workers — some of whom are working on the planned city which will host the 2022 World Cup final — accused their employers of withholding pay, forcing them to work in heat without water, making them live in squalid camps, and confiscating their passports to keep them from leaving the country.
There are 1.4 million migrant workers in Qatar, many of whom can’t leave unless their employers grant them an exit visa. An ESPN feature on a worker camp outside Doha showed their awful living conditions.
12. Homosexuality is illegal there.
While Qatar has more liberal policies than many Middle Eastern countries, it still has strict anti-gay laws. FIFA president Sepp Blatter recommended that gay men who want to go to the World Cup should “refrain from any sexual activities.”
13. There are no World Cup-ready stadiums there.
All of the venues need to be built from scratch. As we saw with the record $US50-billion Sochi Olympics, building these things from scratch is an incredibly expensive and unpredictable enterprise.
14. Entire cities that are necessary to host the event don’t exist yet.
The country doesn’t have all the stadiums, hotels, and other infrastructure to the host the event, so they have to build it all from scratch before 2022. By comparison, it cost South Africa $US3.5 billion to host the 2010 World Cup.
The city that will host the final, Lusail City, doesn’t exist yet.
15. FIFA could have to renegotiate all the TV contracts.
FIFA is holding secret talks with television networks from across the world in case the World Cup is moved to the winter, the Telegraph reports. Fox paid a record $US425 million for the next two tournaments under the assumption that it would be played in summer and not clash with the NFL.
16. It will get drowned out by football in America.
The World Cup is the only time when mainstream America pays attention to soccer. If it has to compete with the NFL it’d be a disaster, especially if it’s held in January and goes up against the playoffs.
17. They probably won’t sell beer in the stadiums.
There are select hotels and bars in Doha where you’re allowed to drink. But you can’t have alcohol or be drunk in public. It will be the most sober World Cup ever.
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