Most soccer fans around the world were left scratching their heads when the tiny Middle Eastern nation of Qatar was awarded the 2022 World Cup by FIFA. The nation doesn’t have much in a way of soccer tradition nor did it have any suitable stadiums in place. There were several other reasons fans weren’t happy with the choice, including the summer heat in the area and allegations that Qatar simply bribed it’s way to the World Cup by buying the necessary votes needed.
The World Cup will likely go ahead in Qatar though even after numerous controversies such as the deaths of over a thousand migrant workers and the fact the tournament will be played in November and December. Qatar has also faced a political crisis lately and is alleged to fund terrorist organizations. In this article we’ll look at 10 reasons Qatar should be stripped of the 2022 World Cup.
10. FIFA Corruption
Most fans had an idea FIFA was corrupt and now with the recent investigations, bans, and court cases it’s basically been proven. It’s highly unlikely the World Cup would have ended up in Qatar if millions of dollars worth of bribes hadn’t exchanged hands and votes weren’t bought. The former boss of the Asian Football Federation, Mohamed bin Hammam of Qatar, was a key figure in helping his homeland win the bid for 2022 and he’s now been banned for life from soccer by FIFA. It’s alleged that he paid more than $5 million in bribes to buy votes from several nations before voting took place. Meanwhile, bids from the USA, Australia, Japan and South Korea to host the tournament were were unsuccessful.
9. The Heat
When Qatar originally won the bid it was believed the World Cup would be held in June/July like usual, but then people started questioning the summer heat in the nation. Officials said air-conditioned stadiums could be built, but questions still remained about the temperatures in general for the fans the rest of the time. To be honest, too much was made of the heat issue though as temperatures at the 2014 World Cup in Brazil reached close to 40 degrees Celsius and the summer heat in former host nations such as Japan, South Korea, Mexico and Spain was also pretty stifling. No nation should be refused a World Cup based on the weather, but FIFA should have taken it into consideration before awarding Qatar with the event.
8. Oppressed Workers
Qatar has been accused of executing a modern-day slave trade when it comes to foreign workers who are helping prepare the nation for the World Cup. It’s been widely reported that between 1,200 and 4,000 workers have lost their lives already while constructing stadiums and infrastructure projects for the event. Several European newspapers, television networks and human rights groups have reported on the squalid living and oppressive working conditions of workers from Nepal and India with their passports being held to they can’t leave the country. In total, it’s believed there are approximately 1.4 million migrant workers helping prepare Qatar for the tournament. Many of these workers have claimed they haven’t received proper payment and they’ve been forced to work in the heat without access to water.
7. Reduced Time Frame
The 2022 World Cup is scheduled to run from November 21st to December 18th, which is a span of 28 days. Now this may seem like plenty of time to complete a 32-team tournament, but for some reason soccer players and managers can’t seem to play more than one game a week without complaining. While NHL players can handle three games in four days without whining, soccer is a totally different situation even though the sport generally allows for 25-man squads at the World Cup. Most World Cups run over 32 days, but this one will be condensed since most of the world’s soccer leagues will be midway through their seasons. It’s going to be interesting to see if the quality of play suffers or if the number of injuries increases even though the event is just four days shorter.
6. Cultural Differences
With Qatar generally being a Muslim nation there are going to be a lot of cultural differences between visitors and residents. For starters, homosexuality is illegal there and isn’t tolerated. In fact, prison sentences and/or public lashings have been handed down to people participating in illegal sex acts. It’s also a non-drinking culture, which isn’t going to please many visitors who like to consume alcohol. It’s unclear just what the rules will be when it comes to selling beer at stadiums during the event. You can’t drink alcohol or be intoxicated in public, but how are you going to enforce that with thousands of hooligans wandering the streets? You can be sure thousands of visitors will be packing liquor in their suitcases. There are also stricter clothing traditions that may need to be observed and fans won’t be looked upon kindly if they’re walking around half naked or scantily dressed.
5. The Cost
Since there are no suitable stadiums in Qatar, they all need to be built from scratch. In addition, the location of the opening game and the Final, a city called Lusail, doesn’t really exist. This city is also being built from scratch with Qatar hoping to fill it with about 260,000 inhabitants once it’s completed. The cost of building stadiums, hotels and refitting the infrastructure could cost as much as $220 billion. In comparison, South Africa spent approximately $3.5 billion to prepare for the 2010 tournament and even the ultra-expensive Sochi Olympics in Russia was less than a quarter of that cost at $50 billion. Also, once the visiting fans leave, some of the stadiums will be left sitting empty or dismantled as eight of them will be built within a 20-mile radius of each other.
4. Too Much Competition
With the World Cup taking place in November/December it’s going to face a lot of stiff competition for viewers in many participating nations. In North America alone the NBA, NHL and NFL seasons will be in full swikng as well as many college sports. Many European nations also have professional hockey leagues and the southern hemisphere will be enjoying their summers sports. The time difference between North America and Qatar won’t be favorable for North American viewers either since the Middle East country is eight hours ahead of New York and 11 hours in front of Los Angeles. This means afternoon games would start early in the morning with evening games being lunchtime starts in the U.S. Therefore, many games will need to be shown on a tape-delayed basis in the middle of prime time, directly in competition with North America’s major sports leagues, making it a scheduling nightmare for television networks.
3. Alleged Links to Terrorism
Several Middle Eastern nations such as Egypt, Bahrain, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates, recently cut diplomatic ties with Qatar as the nation has been accused of sponsoring and harbouring terrorist groups. These nations named a combined 59 charity groups and individuals with links to terrorism and Qatar. These include ISIS, the Muslim Brotherhood, Shi’ite and Iranian militant groups and Al-Quaeda. Politics and sports don’t need to mix, but sadly there’s no denying the 21st century has seen some horrific terrorist attacks across the world. Hosting the 2022 World Cup in a country as small as Qatar will pose a tremendous security risk since there will be thousands of visitors in a relatively confined area.
2. Lacking in Soccer Tradition
Soccer is quite popular in Qatar, there’s no arguing that. But the weather and culture means there isn’t really an inbred soccer tradition like there is in many other nations. Nobody really lives and breathes the sport like many fans do in the world’s soccer-mad countries. Qatar has never qualified for a World Cup in the past and as of November, 2017 the men’s senior national team was ranked 102nd in the world. Their highest ranking was 51st with the lowest being 135th. Several team players were born in other countries and this includes Sebastian Soria, Qatar’s all-time leading scorer in goals and games played, as he’s Uruguayan. It might be difficult to fill the stadiums during the tournament with local fans since they’re not as passionate about soccer as the residents of many other nations are.
1. Being Held in November/December
Okay, so we’ve already covered the heat and the reduced time frame for the World Cup and these situations tie directly in with the tournament being moved to November/December. It’s not as hot at this time of the year in the Middle East, but holding the tournament in the winter means it’s going to disrupt the majority of professional soccer leagues across the globe. Even MLS in North America plays at this time of the year as this is when the playoffs are held. With the World Cup lasting for 28 days and due to the training time the teams will need before it begins, it looks like many pro leagues will have to delay their campaigns by about six weeks. This could lead to some leagues, including the European Champions League, to start up about three weeks earlier and finish three weeks later than usual. It’s a major disruption for the players, leagues, and fans alike.