The decision to award Qatar the 2022 World Cup was met with widespread scepticism.
Qatar’s lack of infrastructure and soccer tradition, combined with questions about country’s human rights record and bribery allegations, made it the most controversial World Cup host nation ever.
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.
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 the 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. 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 another ex-FIFA executive shortly after the Qatar World Cup vote.
4. 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.
From June to August of 2013, at least 44 Nepalese died in Qatar from working construction, the Guardian reports.
5. 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 the matter next year.
6. Including infrastructure, it’s going to cost $US200 billion — four times the amount Russia spent on the historically expensive Sochi Olympics.
Costs are already getting to out of control that Qatar will only build eight stadiums, as opposed to the 12 that were originally planned.
7. 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.”
8. 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.
9. Entire cities that are necessary to host the event don’t exist yet.
The country doesn’t have the stadiums, hotels, or 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.
10. 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 event could be held during the summer. But after they won the bid, they scrapped that plan. 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.”
11. 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 will be a huge headache for everyone involved.
12. FIFA will 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.
13. 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.
14. 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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