FIFA 2022: The Benefits for Qatar and Potential Risks

Micah Allison – Primary Article Contributor and Analyst following Qatar

Yaman Aswad- Primary Article Contributor and Analyst following Qatar

Sydney Scott – Primary Article Contributor, Team Leader, and Analyst following Qatar

Qatar will be hosting the most popular sporting event across the globe in 2022: The FIFA World Cup. As a result of such a large-scale event, it is no surprise that Qatar could potentially reap numerous benefits that spread far beyond the realm of the sporting industry.

The construction of infrastructure for the purpose of hosting and accommodating visitors will bring many positive economic benefits to the country. Qatar has predicted that hosting the FIFA World Cup will create more than 1.5 million new jobs in key sectors like construction, real estate, and hospitality. The tourism industry is also expected to benefit from the event. Officials predict over one million visitors for the World Cup, generating approximately QAR 66bn by 2025 for the Qatari economy. The increase in tourists in 2022 is not only guaranteed to boost Qatar’s economy short term, but long term effects of increasing their international profile as a tourist destination will provide lasting economic benefits.

With the rise of Qatar’s international profile, there will likely also be an increase in foreign investment. Many foreign businesses are attracted to host countries of large events due to the increase in economic growth. Foreign investment will be beneficial to Qatar by facilitating an in increase economic growth and development.

Other than economic benefits, Qatar stands to benefit positively from the social and cultural aspects of hosting FIFA 2022. This is the first time that a Middle Eastern country will be hosting the World Cup. This is an opportunity for Qatar to share with the world their vibrant culture and values, all while created a long-lasting legacy that will be associated with Qatar for many years to come.  

However, Qatar’s planning of the 2022 World Cup has not been without controversy. More specifically, many people are concerned about the political instability in the region, corruption scandals, human rights violations, and Qatar’s alcohol ban.

Since June of 2017, several Arab countries in the Gulf region have implemented an air, land and sea blockade on Qatar. Many people are worried about what this could mean regarding transfer routes, and a potential escalation of the current problem could result in greater consequences for construction. Before the blockade, the Qatari government confirmed that two-thirds of the World Cup projects would be completed by the year 2020. With the current blockade, it is it is unlikely that the project timeline will be completed in the projected frame, due to a shortage of resources. If the crisis escalates, there will be critical safety and cost concerns for visitors attending the tournament. It is critical that Qatar solve its diplomatic problems as soon as possible to allow for a normal functioning of the economy.

Qatari corruption scandals have flooded the news in recent months as many people believe that their hosting of the World Cup was is associated with the bribing of FIFA and other political officials. The U.S bribery trial confirmed that a key witness testified to several high-ranking FIFA officials receiving millions of dollars in return for rewarding Qatar to be the host nation. This political scandal has the potential to lead FIFA to withdraw from allowing Qatar to host the World Cup. It is unclear if Qatar will host the World Cup, yet Qatari officials deny the corruption allegations and confirm that Qatar will host the World Cup in the summer of 2022.

There are tremendous human rights concerns regarding the current state of construction workers who are employed to complete the World Cup stadiums. Many international organizations have condemned Qatar for the treatment of 1.6 million migrant workers currently constructing the stadiums. Qatar has promised to improve its safety and living standards for migrant workers, but policies have yet to be put in place and human rights organizations are skeptical about these claims. Negative publicity surrounding human rights abuses could escalade into a boycott of the event as a whole.

Qatar has a total ban on alcohol, which is not a trivial issue considering that many significant sponsors of the World Cup are alcohol producers. Qatar will host the first tournament where alcohol is banned, which could significantly affect the decisions of fans attending the World Cup. FIFA stated that it is trying to work around this, but it is unlikely that they can change the policy of the Qatari government.