Qatar is in the middle of preparations for the 2022 FIFA World Cup by reconstructing and extending its stadiums (three of its major stadiums) to be the perfect host for the biggest football event on the planet. The preparations go far beyond the expected by introducing many special visual effects on the facades to honor its guests, as well as increasing the capacity to be able to seat around 40,000 people. The FIFA World Cup represents the biggest football sensation, which is held every four years, and the scheduled 2022 tournament is going to be the 22nd in a row.
The event is historic since it is the first time that a Middle East and Muslim country is going to be the host. Until now 32 teams were taking part in the tournament, but the 2022 World Cup will be the last one played in such an arrangement. Namely, FIFA is going to extend its list of qualifying teams to 48.
The other rearrangement includes that for the first time the big event is rescheduled for November, instead of taking place as usually in June or July, which relates to the hot weather and climate in Qatar, so to avoid extremely high summer temperatures, the matches will be played in fall. It will also last less than usual, only for 28 days, whereby the finale overlaps with the Qatar National Holiday on 18 December.
So far, everything sounds great, and it would be, wouldn’t it be for the big controversy and scandalous allegations concerning the bidding procedure. Qatar had to take low blows from the public being accused of corruption and manipulation of the bidding procedure.
The Scandalous Allegations and the Bidding
The right to host the upcoming FIFA event has been questioned since day one of bidding. Let us go back to when it all started and how it came to such a scandal. The bidding started in 2009, and elven interested bidders applied for the 2018 FIFA World Cup, but at the end, there were ten bidders when Mexico withdrew. Indonesia was also eliminated since it failed to submit documents of government’s support for the bidding. Many countries switched from bidding for 2022 World Cup to the 2018 bidding (mostly non-UEFA countries).
The final bidding round included only five countries, all of which have the capacity to deliver a great job as a host. These included the USA, Japan, South Korea, Qatar, and Australia. The first suspicion arouse when the FIFA Executive Committee started evaluating the bids, whereby two Committee members were suspended due to allegations of corruptions. Qatar won all four voting rounds with a clear advantage, but the story of corruption remained involving FIFA committee members who supposedly were bribed to give their vote to Qatar.
Some believe that Qatar is too small in size and area to host such an event, sine it is three times smaller than Switzerland, the smallest host country of the FIFA World Cup so far. FIFA has started to investigate the case and Qatar’s bidding, but the internal investigation reported back to have found nothing against Qatar and cleared up its reputation. Still, the doubt remained and many, including FIFA chief investigator Garcia, state that the investigation was not properly conducted and that even FIFA tries to cover up for the wrongdoers, either as an accomplice or someone who tries to protect its Committee members. The Swiss prosecutors also decided to take a closer look into the affair, and according to them, money laundering was a part of both bidding processes, for the 2018 and 2022 World Cup.
It is not only Qatar whose name is being dragged through the papers, but also Russia, as the host of the 2018 World Cup. In mid-2015, the ground was really shaky for Qatar since it was threatened to lose the privilege of hosting if bribery can be proven.
Many find it very controversial to reschedule the tournament for November and the winter season since it could cause overlapping with other significant sports events. basically, it puts the whole sports calendar under risk, like the possibility to overlap with the Winter Olympics or the Super Bowl.
Australia, for example, already announced that it considers requiring compensation from FIFA if the winter tournament influences their domestic football league. Australia has already lost millions of dollars in the bidding process, but it is not ready to suffer more financial losses due to the schedule. It is only left to see if other countries or potentially affected parties will follow Australia and seek reimbursement for FIFA.
Qatar is not considered as a ready country to host such a big event, starting from its size and small population (1.7 million) to lack of accommodation and facilities. Since they won the bid (even if it is not yet clear if the decision will be denounced), Qatar has been working 24/7 to prepare for the big event. It rebuilds stadiums, constructs hotels, and other facilities, and spends billions of dollars to welcome the national teams with dignity in 5 years.
Qatar’s Relationship to Foreign Workers on the World Cup Project
Well, it has been placed in the media that Qatar shows no dignity in treating their employees, international employees more precisely, who work on the construction projects. Most workers which are disregarded come from Nepal, and some media have even compared the work to slavery. Forced labor is another term which media use to describe the state of play at the construction sites. Allegedly, workers cope with abuse of human rights and that the welfare standards which were defined in 2014 are not being respected, but yet rather ignored.
Others are concerned about the strict Muslim laws in force in Qatar which strictly dismiss homosexuals and prohibit alcohol consumption. This is going to be the first FIFA World Cup that is limited in so many ways and that consists of so many changes that it sounds almost unrecognizable.