Last updated on January 24, 2023
The 2022 World Cup, held in Qatar, has finally come to a close. Ending with Argentina beating France 3-3 with a 4-2 penalty kick shootout. Yet, the undoubted loser of the World Cup is the very country that hosted it, Qatar.
Qatar faced backlash and controversy for hosting the 2022 World Cup almost immediately. Starting with the announcement, in which claims about the small country bribing FIFA were rampant. Leading to the building of the stadiums and the creation of a whole new city, Lusail City, into a tourist hub for football fans. The cost of this entire project is estimated by Bloomberg at $300 billion. Qatar is a small nation, and much of the work to build this was delegated to migrant workers. These workers suffered through extreme heat and horrible work and housing conditions. According to the Guardian, this has led to more than 6,500 migrant workers dying since 2010, when the project began.
Because of these concerns and many more centered around the anti-LGBTQ+ and lack of women’s rights being brought to greater attention, Qatar has been under extreme scrutiny. This is why some rapid change has already begun in the country. Which includes raising the minimum wage and abolishing the kafala system. Ultimately, this allows workers more freedom over their work and adheres to human rights. Most important, according to TIME, is legislation that says workers cannot work outside between 10 am and 3:30 pm from June 1 to September 15. Or when heat and humidity surpass an extreme level. If it wasn’t for the World Cup, improvement would have never happened. This does not justify any previous harm that has, nor argue that it was worth it to have Qatar host the 2022 World Cup. It means that progress is being made and shows how international scrutiny can achieve a better world if we all push for it. Still, another question is starting to come up now that the World Cup is over: What’s going to happen to Lusail City?
Qatar has claimed that the Lusail Stadium will be converted into some kind of community space to adhere to sustainability goals. Other stadiums will face reductions in size for future sporting events or act as educational spaces. Other claims argue the government in Qatar will tear down portions of stadiums and ship them. But these have to do with Stadium 974, built with shipping containers that will be transported to countries in need. Many of these plans have not actually occurred and only follow the words of Qatar and the government. But to not follow through with them would ignite more scrutiny, so it’s doubtful they wouldn’t.
Even with these big plans for the stadiums, lots of doubt has been spread over the ultimate worth of the entire project. Mentioned in a Sportico article is the fact that while some of the architecture will be beneficial for Qatar long-term, it was also built to optimize a sporting event, not the economy or everyday life. Even more so, it is doubtful that Qatar will be able to regain the full extent of its $300 billion. The money from the 2022 World Cup, estimated at $1.56 billion, doesn’t even begin to cover it. Any hopes of achieving international recognition have dwindled due to the negative coverage of the country. Even if these stadiums get converted and shipped, which will cost even more money to achieve, the benefit for the people of Qatar is unknown. While there is hope for betterment, much doubt exists over whether the benefits have been able to outweigh the costs.
All this means that Qatar, as a country, lost as badly as their team during the World Cup. Despite architecture that might make a big difference in the future of the country, a great benefit has not been had. And, the economic and image cost the event has spurred largely negates this. Their progress, important as it may be, only occurred after massive amounts of negative press for the country. Such attention is not thought to end anytime soon. This leaves us all with a question: Why did Qatar host the 2022 World Cup? And it is doubtful we’ll ever get an answer.
Photo Credits to History of Soccer.