For many, the prospect of the 2022 FIFA World Cup being staged in the scorching heat of summer in Qatar seemed like a potential recipe for disaster. How could such a hot country possibly cope with hosting the biggest footballing event on Earth? The answer is – they didn’t. The decision to award Qatar the World Cup was heavily criticized at the time and has been widely seen as controversial ever since. There have been corruption allegations and concerns about exploitation of workers building stadiums for the event. Even before that, there were red flags about staging it there. So how did it happen? Read on to find out more...
Who Decides Where the World Cup is Held?
As you’ve read, awarding Qatar the 2022 World Cup was controversial. But how did it happen? Why did FIFA football’s governing body select Qatar over competing nations like the USA, Australia, South Korea and Japan (who had hosted the World Cup previously)? The process of selecting the host nation is shrouded in secrecy, but FIFA’s own website reveals that there are a few key criteria:
- The availability of the stadium dates - The infrastructure of the host nation
- The general costs of hosting the World Cup
- The strength of the bid from the nation making the request FIFA’s executive committee comprising a series of footballing and non-footballing members meets annually to discuss whether to move the hosting of the World Cup to a different nation. The 2022 decision was made back in 2010, when Qatar controversially pipped the USA to host rights.
Qatar’s Bid to Host the FIFA World Cup
So how did Qatar even get to the point where they were in the running to host the 2022 World Cup? Qatar were always going to be a controversial choice to host the tournament. Back in 2010, the country’s bid to the disgust of many people was allegedly bought off by FIFA. According to a report by the Mail on Sunday, FIFA’s then-president, Sepp Blatter, had “promised” the tournament to the USA. But Blatter changed his mind after the Qataris offered him a lucrative $100 million dollar ‘gift.’ In the same year, Qatar’s winning bid was also marred by accusations of corruption and vote-buying. FIFA was forced to investigate after Australia’s bid was reported to have lost out because voting members felt that the weather conditions in Australia during the World Cup would be “unplayable” due to extreme temperatures.
Why Was Qatar Chosen to Host the FIFA World Cup?
So, given Qatar’s World Cup bid was mired in controversy from the start, how did they ever get it off the ground in the first place? As we’ve discussed, FIFA’s decision to award the 2022 World Cup to Qatar was a controversial one. It’s widely believed that Qatar’s extreme heat played a key role in their winning bid and that FIFA was concerned about awarding the tournament to a country in the northern hemisphere. They were likely worried that tournament dates in the northern hemisphere would clash with other major sporting events and that the intense summer heat in the northern hemisphere would make it impossible for fans to attend the games in person.
FIFA responded to the report by announcing a “more rigorous” inspection regime for Qatar in the run-up to hosting the 2022 World Cup. But it has been widely argued that FIFA could have done more and that the organization has turned a blind eye to the exploitation of workers in Qatar. Rather than being a problem that only emerged in recent years, there have been concerns about the situation for some time. In 2016, the International Trade Union Confederation (ITUC) reported that at least 4,000 workers in Qatar had died between 2010 and 2016.
What Comes Next?
So, with so many controversies surrounding Qatar’s hosting of the 2022 FIFA World Cup, what’s next? There’s a growing campaign to move the 2022 tournament to a different country, with the USA and Australia emerging as potential alternatives. However, this has been met with opposition from many within the footballing world who want Qatar to be forced to deal with its issues and host the tournament as planned. A report released in January 2019 by a specially appointed independent panel led by human rights lawyer and Harvard Professor John R. R. Bolton found little evidence of wrongdoing and called for the tournament to be continued in Qatar. The next few years will be ones to watch closely.
As you can see from this article, awarding Qatar the 2022 FIFA World Cup was a controversial decision from the start. The extreme heat in the country and the poor treatment of migrant workers in the construction industry have all contributed to the decision being heavily criticized. It looks unlikely that FIFA will be able to keep its promise to Qatar to host the tournament in 2022. That said, there are calls for the tournament to be moved to another country which would likely cause even more problems. This, then, is a decision that the footballing world would do well to reflect on, before deciding on moving the 2022 FIFA World Cup to a different country.