The Qatar World Cup Saga Explained

Blog by: Shlok

The Doha Port stadium is pictured in this artist's impression as a venue for the 2022 World Cup in Qatar

Doha Port stadium is pictured in this artist’s impression as a venue for the 2022 World Cup in Qatar.

You walk out of Doha International airport on mid-June afternoon. It’s humid, sunny and hot and you probably want to get yourself into a cooler. The thermometer reads 45 degree Celsius. Then, you suddenly realize that after a decade, players are going play 90 minutes of hard, world class football in these scorching conditions.

This is just a short sketch of what the FIFA officials must have gone through when they arrived in Qatar to inspect the developments of the projects being undertaken for the FIFA world cup in 2022. It will be exciting to see a major football tournament being played in a region which is promising the world with so much in the future. But the question that everyone needs to ask is, “Is it practically possible to stage a FIFA world cup in a location where temperatures reach as high as 50 degrees Celsius?”

Qatar’s FIFA world cup journey is as dramatic as a typical Hollywood movie. A lot of twists and turns have been taking place since the evening of December 2, 2010, where Qatar stood proud in front of the world as it was announced as the host of the 2022 showpiece event. It’s not just the climate that has made the headlines regarding Qatar’s world cup dream, but it has also been marred by bribery accusations.

Mohammed Bin Al Hammam, the head of the Qatar Football Federation, is a disgraced man charged for bribing officials in exchange for votes. The bribery saga all began in May 2011 when Lord Triesman submitted a convincing report of the illegal acts that Qatar used to acquire the world cup.

He accused Trinidad and Tobago’s Jack Warner who demanded $4 million for an education center in his country, and Paraguay’s Nicolas Loez, who asked for an honorary knighthood in exchange for their votes. He also added Jacques Anouma of the Ivory Coast and Issa Hyautov of Cameroon, who were  each paid $1.5 million in exchange for votes. Mohammed Bin Al Hammam has been accused of bribing 25 officials from FIFA as well. This certainly tainted Qatar’s image.

Elsewhere, the country’s scorching heat is another issue that they are fighting. Many associations have been debating the issue about the possibility of a summer world cup with a temperature of 50 degree Celsius. A proposed move was to shift the world cup to winter, but that would mean a total change in schedule in domestic leagues as well. But, recently many leading clubs have given the thumbs up for a winter world cup as well.

A winter world cup seems the most practical route to take. It will not only benefit players, but the spectators as well. Qatar has planned a canal system which will act as a shuttle from the parking to the stadium. Is it possible for 90,000 people to be transported comfortably across the canals at scorching temperatures? The answer could be a big ‘No’.

But the technology proposed by Qatar to beat the heat seems very promising and they have made statements which show their confidence in their project. Qatar’s delegates have strongly opposed Premier League chief Richard Scudamore’s proposal of shifting the World Cup to a cooler place by saying that it was “the right place to host the world cup” and that the Gulf had the right to host it.

The biggest moment though was when Sepp Blatter told the media that rewarding Qatar the World Cup might be a ‘mistake’. Elsewhere, UEFA President Micheal Platini had also expressed concerns over the heat and has said that the world cup should be played in the winter.

The Qatar World Cup dream seems to be nothing less than a thriller. We can do no more but stay tuned for more updates on this debate, where every day seems to deliver some more drama.

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