“And being described by a British political resident

“And the host
of the 2022 World Cup will be … Qatar” (Conn, 2017, p. 79). With these words Joseph S. Blatter,
the former president of the Fédération Internationale de Football Association
(FIFA), revealed the highly anticipated outcome of the FIFA Executive
Committee’s secret ballot vote for the host nation of the 2022 FIFA World Cup
on Thursday 2 December 2010 in Zurich in front of more than seventy television
stations and approximately one thousand reporters from all over the world (FIFA, 2010). The other four
candidates which have submitted their bid were Australia, Korea Republic, Japan
and USA (FIFA, 2010).
Qatar will be the first middle eastern country to organize the prestigious
tournament described by FIFA as “the world’s most widely viewed sporting event (FIFA, n.d.).

Qatar’s rise from
a country with a population of 16’000 and its capital Doha being described by a
British political resident in 1940 as a small fishing village with no
electricity nor fresh water supply in the vicinity of the huts (Crystal,
1990, p. 117)
to the country with the highest gross domestic product (at purchasing power parity)
per capita, according to the International Monetary Fund (2017), appears
unprecedented. This can certainly be attributed to the country’s enormous
natural gas reserves which are the third highest in the world (BP, 2017). However, Fromherz (2017, p. 22)
suggests that the reason behind Qatar’s transformation lies not simply in the
story of oil but in the usage of the wealth generated by oil to increase
influence internally and externally. With the selection as the host country for
the 2022 FIFA World Cup, Qatar wants to further strengthen its global influence.
After a detailed look at the financial aspects of hosting the FIFA World Cup,
Zimbalist states that,

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The cost of hosting the FIFA World Cup,
soccer’s quadrennial showcase event, has risen from several hundred million in
1994, when the United States hosted the event, to $5-$6 billion in 2010 in
South Africa and $15-$20 billion in Brazil in 2014. Qatar could shatter all
records when it hosts the event in 2022, with some estimating the final price
tag will come in at an eye-popping $200 billion. (Zimbalist, 2015a, p. 2)

On the
contrary, the total revenue for Qatar is estimated a total of $4 or $5 billion (Zimbalist, 2015b). Qatar’s vision is
to create a diverse society with many dimensions to it, argues Zimbalist (2015b).
Feldman, a professor at Harvard Law School, who helped write constitutions for
Iraq and Tunisia, (2015) supports this in
stating that they strive for recognition as a nation and to attract future
inhabitants.

Certainly, one
of the most controversial issues of the 2022 FIFA World Cup in Qatar is the
treatment of migrant workers used for building the nation’s infrastructure
within the kefala system, which leaves them vulnerable to abuse and
exploitation (Human Rights Watch, 2012). Alleged revelations
by newspapers and non-governmental organizations of the mistreatment and deaths
of mostly Nepalese and Indian migrant workers damaged Qatar’s public image (Fromherz, 2017). DLA Piper (2014), an international law
firm who was given the instruction by Qatar to review the nation’s labour law
in the aftermath of these allegations, concluded that they “have seen no
evidence either to support or refute” the correlation of the deaths of migrant
worker in Qatar with the work conditions in the construction sector.

Heavily
criticized by media and various organizations is Qatar’s stance against LGTBQ
rights. LGBTQ people, or lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer (or
questioning) as defined in the Cambridge Dictionary (n.d.), can be punished
with imprisonment of up to three years (Al Meezan – Qatar Legal Portal, 2004). This clearly
contradicts with FIFA’s statutes, argues Griffin, president of the Human Rights
Campaign (2014). Article 4 states:

Discrimination of any kind against a
country, private person or group of people on account of race, skin colour,
ethnic, national or social origin, gender, disability, language, religion,
political opinion or any other opinion, wealth, birth or any other status,
sexual orientation or any other reason is strictly prohibited and punishable by
suspension or expulsion. (FIFA, 2016, p. 7)

For the first
time in the history the FIFA World Cup, the 2022 tournament will be played in
November/December (FIFA, 2015).
This switch to winter will clash with not only league competitions in Europe,
but also with the UEFA Champions League and the American football season,
according to Sam Borden (2015). The decision by
FIFA has been made due to the extreme summer temperatures, who regularly reach
50°C in summer (Gibson,
2015b).
Nassis, Brito, Dvorak, Chalabi, and Racinais (2015) analysed the
effect of environmental heat stress on performance during the 2014 FIFA World
Cup in Brazil and concluded that physical performance (number of sprints and
distance run at high intensity) were significantly lower during games with high
temperature (30°C and more).

Qatar’s
appointment as host nation for the FIFA World Cup raised many eyebrows, as they
are ranked on place 102 in the FIFA/Coca-Cola World Ranking as of 21 December
2017 (FIFA, 2017)
and have a low average attendance in the domestic league. Robert Booth (2015)
even reports that migrant workers are being paid to visit domestic league
matches (Weinberg, 2015).

As alcohol is
often closely associated with sport and football in particular (Maughan, 2006), within Qatar’s Sharia
law, public drinking and bringing alcohol into the country is forbidden (Al Meezan – Qatar Legal Portal, 2004). One of the main
sponsors for the FIFA World Cup 2022 is the Brazilian-Belgian beverage and
brewing company Anheuser-Busch InBev (FIFA, 2011)
and FIFA will defend the commercial rights of its sponsors, as it did for the
2014 World Cup in Brazil, where serving alcohol in stadiums was initially
forbidden (Qatar World Cup controversy continues, 2016). FIFA General
Secretary Jerome Valcke stated in front of journalists before the tournament in
South America that “Alcoholic drinks are part of the FIFA World Cup, so we’re
going to have them.” (Beer ‘must be sold’ at Brazil World Cup, says Fifa, 2012). As December 2017,
it is still uncertain how FIFA and Qatar will handle alcohol consumption and
distribution throughout the duration of the World Cup.

In May 2015,
swiss authorities arrested seven FIFA officials in Zurich’s Baur au Lac hotel (Jennings, 2015). The defendants were
charged with racketeering, wire fraud and money laundering, among other
offenses (The United States Department of Justice, 2015). A few month later,
in December, 16 more officials were also charged of being involved in criminal
schemes (Fifa corruption crisis: Key questions answered,
2015).
These apprehensions ultimately led to the suspension of then FIFA president
Sepp Blatter and then UEFA president Michel Platini with both being banned from
football for eight years by FIFA’s ethics committee (Gibson, 2015a). Authorities soon launched
investigations into the 2018 and 2022 bids, which are, as of December 2017,
still ongoing. In November 2017, a witness testified that South American FIFA
officials “took bribes to back Qatar’s World Cup bid” (Laughland, 2017). Most of the allegations are based on
the “Garcia Report”, which attorney Michael J. Garcia composed as requested by
FIFA (Associated Press, 2012). In the report, Garcia
(Garcia & Borbély, 2014) revealed that there
is, in contradiction to media coverage, no evidence whatsoever that Qatar has
bought votes. However,

There is evidence that individual members of
members of various bid teams violated the FCE FIFA Code of Ethics or specific
rules governing the bidding process. The issue whether to open formal
investigative proceedings against those individuals at this time must be
considered. (Garcia & Borbély, 2014)

More recently,
Qatar has been part of a diplomatic crisis in the Middle East, when its
powerful neighbours cut their relationship (Qatar crisis: What you need to know, 2017). Main drivers of the
embargo are Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates (UAE) and Bahrain, which are
all neighbouring nations. The biggest accusation is that Qatar is financing
extremist groups (Reuters, 2017). Gianni Infantino, FIFA’s
current president, responded to expressed doubts for Qatar’s ability to host
the 2022 FIFA World Cup that the tournament is not in danger and that he believes
the situation in the Middle East to be normalized until 2022 (Reuters, 2017).