Last updated on July 19, 2023
Editor’s Note: This article is a part of the Holos Project, a four-way partnership (ENGin, The Los Angeles Times Insider, Published Points of View, The Outspoken) established to empower the voices of Ukrainian students across the world through one-on-one journalism mentorship. This article was written by Viktor Polovchuk from Ukraine with the mentorship of Sid Pillai from the United States. “Holos” is the Ukrainian word for “Voice”.
First, to review where Qatar is located. This Arabian country is located at the western coast of the Persian Gulf. Qatar is a small country. With less than 12,000 square kilometers of space, it is among the smallest sovereign states in the world, about twice the size of Delaware.
Second, in 2010, Qatar clinched the rights to the World Cup after winning a ballot of FIFA’s 22 executive members, beating bids from the US, South Korea, Japan and Australia. It is the first Arab nation to host the tournament. For Qataris, the World Cup was an opportunity to expose the world to their culture, displaying everything from their architecture to their hospitality, as well as showing they could handle a well-organized tournament,
Third, Qatar is a very rich country. A Forbes study published earlier this year found the Gulf nation’s GDP per capita to be higher than anywhere else on the planet. For the moment, this country has the world’s third-largest proven natural gas reserve and is the second-largest exporter of natural gas. Oil and natural gas account for more than 70% of total government revenue, more than 60% of total gross domestic product, and roughly 85% of all export earnings. All cash flows are kept by FIFA. FIFA will, however, cover the principal costs of running the tournament and pay Qatar approx. $1.7 billion, including a $440 million prize pot for competing teams.
But, even considering those factors, many didn’t like Qatar as the chosen country. Here’s Collin Riegels on the issue: “Other excellent questions include how wise it is to play a summer sporting tournament in a country where summer outdoor temperatures can exceed 50 degrees Celsius, where alcohol is banned, which does not recognize the existence of one potential competitor (Israel), and which criminalizes homosexuality. Sounds like fun for the fans!
Some other questions which might reasonably be asked is why a country was selected which literally had to build all the stadiums required pretty much from scratch (and then dismantle most of them again afterward), and which does not possess enough hotel rooms to accommodate the expected number of fans, much less the teams, coaches, hangers on etc. needed to run such a tournament. It is almost like they didn’t think this stuff through”
Even though there was a lot of criticism from other people, for me, this country was something special in World Cup history.