The Ambiguity behind Qatar’s hosting of the 2022 FIFA World Cup
Football on the field has always been associated with ethereal beauty. As such, FIFA World Cup provides an opportunity to billions of spectators to reap the benefits of fun-making, a phenomenon that seems to be associated with social satisfaction. On the other hand, this international sporting event creates an opportunity for entrepreneurs, as well as the host countries to reap the related economic benefits. This implies that FIFA World Cup plays significant social and economic roles. Despite the benefits related to this international sporting event, it appears that Qatar, the host of the 2022 FIFA World Cup, might loss its fortune owing to the ambiguity surrounding the event, including the bidding process and suitability of the country. This is why it is suggested that FIFA should “change its World Cup vote procedures to ensure fairness and transparency” (Becker, 2013, p. 133). It is argued that the choosing Qatar as the host of 2022 FIFA World Cup was a surprise. This is evidenced by remarks that “the bestowment of the hosting privilege was a shock to many people worldwide; most news analysts thought the country didn’t stand a chance” (Beydoun & Baum, 2012 p. 12). Therefore, this argumentative essay will justify the existence of ambiguity behind Qatar’s hosting of the 2022 FIFA World Cup.
In retrospect, issues about the hosting of the 2022 FIFA World Cup began emerging shortly after the Fédération Internationale de Football Association (FIFA) Executive Committee awarded the bid to Qatar. This event occurred in 2010 through a FIFA-run bidding process. In this contest, Qatar had bid for the event hosting together with the United States, Japan, South Korea and Australia. Therefore, it seemed an unprecedented mystery when Qatar was announced the host of 2022 FIFA World Cup. One of the aspects that created surprise was that the other four bidders were considered more suitable to host the event than Qatar based on the fundamental FIFA Executive Committees requirements. Secondly, it was a surprise that “Qatar is to become the first Arab country to host what is the largest single sport event in the world” (Beydoun & Baum, 2012 p. 12).
Shortly after the announcement of Qatar as the host of the 2022 FIFA World Cup, an unprecedented criticism emerged concerning the fairness of FIFA bidding process and Qatar’s suitability for the tournament. Foremost, bribery allegations during the bidding process solicited widespread criticism from sporting experts, media outlets and human rights organizations. Currently, Qatar’s golden fortune for hosting 2022 FIFA World Cup hangs in the balance owing to the ambiguity surrounding the issue. In the event that the controversies surrounding the bidding process and suitability of Qatar for hosting the tournament are unraveled, the country might be stripped the award. This is probably, why there is a heated debate on which country is the most suitable alternative for hosting 2022 FIFA World Cup.
In this context, it is argued that Qatar was awarded the bid to the 2022 FIFA World Cup on the basis of merit. It is apparent that voting system justifies Qatar as the winner of the tournament because it garnered the highest number of votes from majority of the FIFA Executive Committee that comprises of twenty four members. Ordinarily, the committee awards World Cup through a comprehensive and fair voting system to determine the winner. Therefore, Qatar won the confidence of a majority of the FIFA Executive Committee members despite the allegations related to the voting system including the involvement of Spain in a vote-sharing agreement with Qatar (Beydoun & Baum, 2012). It is also argued that Qatar’s assurance of making the 2022 World Cup a success won the confidence of FIFA officials. This is why Beydoun and Baum (2012, p. 12) report that “Qatar promised FIFA officials it would spend whatever necessary to make World Cup a success, and in doing so it beat out four other bidders.” Based on these arguments, Qatar’s bid appears genuine. Despite these justifications of Qatar’s eligibility for hosting the 2022 FIFA World Cup, there are a number of controversies that compromise its eligibility. From a critical perspective, Qatar would not have been awarded the hosting privilege, if the relevant issues were considered by the FIFA Executive Committee. Some of these issues include Qatar’s climate, cost, socio-political issues and corruption in the bidding process.
Climate is one of the most important requirements in sporting activities. Ordinarily, sporting involves various biological processes which are influenced by both exogenous and endogenous factors. Therefore, weather conditions such as the ambient temperature, humidity, atmospheric air pressure and altitude are the main factors of consideration during any tournament planning. In this context, Qatar’s climate is an issue that seems to create immense concern because weather conditions are relatively unfavorable for World Cup tournament. This is so because, Qatar, the desert country experiences sand storms with temperatures soaring to as high as 500 C (Beydoun & Baum, 2012). According to metrological data, temperature drops to 250 C during winter and rises beyond 500 C during summer. These high temperatures are the issue of concern because it is predicted that it will affect the performance of players, as well as spectators of the event. From a health perspective, weather conditions, primarily temperature affect what is referred to as recovery period between games (Alghannam, 2012). This is the period when players take a rest after a particular competition to allow the body regains energy for the next game. More surprisingly, the 2022 FIFA World Cup coincides with the hottest season in the country. Ordinarily, this tournament is usually held during the summer season. Despite the provision of weather conditioning stadiums, as promised by Qatar, it is apparent that temperature will cause significant consequences to players. This phenomenon may grant some teams an advantage over others. For instance, teams from the Middle East countries which are relatively tolerant to the climatic conditions in this region may be favored by the summer event compared to those from Europe, America and Africa. In order to solve the climate challenge, FIFA has scheduled the tournament in winter which coincides with relatively conducive weather, especially lower temperatures around 250 C. alternatively, it has been suggested that the tournament can be moved to another country that experience favorable conditions during summer.
Interestingly, it is apparent that changing the tournament dates from the tradition summer, June/July event, to winter creates an immense ambiguity. The taskforce commissioned in 2013 to address the issue of the 2022 tournament dates seem experience immense challenge in determining the alternative dates (Gibson, 2015). This has been so because of a number of aspects. Foremost, there has never been something like a Winter World Cup. Therefore, staging the tournament in winter will appear as an historical break of the sporting summer tradition. Second, winter coincides with international events that make it difficult to schedule the 2022 FIFA World Cup in either November-December period or January-February period. Staging the tournament in January or February 2022 appears to clash with the Winter Olympics. This leaves the November-December period the most preferable dates for the tournament. However, staging the tournament during this period seems to create a number of challenges. Foremost, the tournament will clash with the Christmas season that is celebrated worldwide by Christians (Rumsby, 2013). Despite the fact that Qatar comprises of predominantly Muslim population, this may affect the players who are predominantly Christians. On the other hand, the tournament will clash with local leagues, particularly in Europe. Despite all these issues, FIFA has maintained that the 2022 World Cup will take place between November and December, and this intensifies the ambiguity.
The second aspect related to Qatar’s hosting of 2022 World Cup tournament is the cost involved in preparing the stadiums. According to financial analysts, the tournament is estimated to cost Qatar US$220 billion. This figure is sixty times higher than the cost of 2010 FIFA World Cup that was held in South Africa at a cost of US$3.5 billion. It is argued that the construction of new stadiums, as well as the renovation of old stadiums will spent the largest portion of the total cost. On the other hand, other infrastructure, primarily transportation will consume the remaining portion. From an analytical perspective, the cost of hosting the tournament is quite high and this is attributable to the temperature challenges that require air-conditioning inside the stadiums. In its bid to host the 2022 World Cup, Qatar promised to create 12 state-of-art stadiums with carbon-neutral technologies. Beydoun and Baum (2012, p. 13) express criticism by stating that “the proposed designs included in the bid are too fantastical not to mention.” This promise was one of the key factors that led to the acceptance of the country’s bid. Therefore, Qatar was expected to build nine extra stadium from scratch, and renovate the three existing stadium. However, the change of terms by Qatar in which the country has requested to reduce the number of stadiums from 12 to 9 is controversial. This change seem to receive support from FIFA officials, especially Sepp Blatter who, in 2010 stated that Qatar’s neighbors such as Bahrain, Saudi Arabia and United Arab Emirates were likely to host some matches. Therefore, it is surprising that the key elements in Qatar’s bid have been changed after the country was awarded the hosting privilege.
Third, Qatar is associated with some of the nonconventional cultural and political aspects. Foremost, it is relatively controversial how Qatar, a country that exhibits a poor football history was chosen for the international sporting event. It is worth noting that Qatar has never qualified for the FIFA World Cup tournament in the past. This implies that it will take a mystery for the Qatari national team to qualify for the 2022 tournament. In addition, Qatar’s culture, especially in relation to alcohol consumption undermines the freedom of fans. The country’s legal system prohibits drinking of alcohol in public, a phenomenon that is specific to the sporting culture.
Moreover, Qatar is associated with human rights issues that could have been considered before awarding the country the hosting privilege of the 2022 FIFA World Cup. So far, a number of human rights groups, including Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International have reported significant violation of human rights. It is reported that Qatar has hired migrant workers from other countries, predominantly Nepalese to provide labor in constructing the stadiums. Shockingly, this exercise has been found to involve slavery and other system abuse. Foremost, it is reported that workers are not allowed to change jobs. On the other hand, migrant workers are also not allowed to leave Qatar unless permission to do so is granted by their sponsors (Montague, 2013). This phenomenon has been worsened by a report released by Amnesty International in November 2013 that showed that workers were coaxed to sign false payment statements.
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- Caroline Mutuku (Author), 2018, The Ambiguity behind Qatar’s hosting of the 2022 FIFA World Cup, Munich, GRIN Verlag, https://www.grin.com/document/431662