Qatar Prepares for 2022 World Cup

Every four years, 32 countries compete in the final rounds of the World Cup. Since 1930, the FIFA World Cup has been one of the biggest world unifying events, exceeding the Olympics, and is the most prestigious association football tournament in the world.

Qatar, the host of the 2022 World Cup, is spending almost $500 million dollars a week in preparation for the games. The money is being used to install new infrastructure such as new stadium, motorways, rail links, hospitals, and even a new airport. Ali al-Emadi, the country’s finance minister, expects spending to proceed until as late as 2021 with more than $200 billion as the expected budget, but denies that this will be the most expensive World Cup yet.

In order to avoid the problems Brazil experienced, struggling to get the stadiums ready on time, Qatar has already awarded 90% of the contracts, Emadi says, two-thirds of which will be delivered within the next 24 months.

Hundreds of migrant workers, mostly from South Asian nations have been hired to complete the construction. Many human rights groups claim the workers have been exploited and forced to work under dangerous conditions, drawing international scrutiny. Many of the workers described the working conditions as ‘pathetic and oppressive.’ Some also feel the construction teams are being taken advantage of for their lack of education and incapability to negotiate. The government has denied these claims and implemented reforms to improve the rights of the migrant workers, which will take effect in December.

Due to heightened oil and gas prices, Qatar has been protected from national budget cuts. The country’s estimated deficit last year was more than $12.8 billion and now sits around $7.8 billion. Qatar has the world’s third-largest natural gas reserve and produces up to 800,000 barrels of oil a day. After uncertainty and worry following a 2014 collapse in the price of oil, the country now sits “very comfortably” with current oil prices.

The most recent World Cup, hosted by Brazil in 2014, cost roughly $11 billion, making it the most expensive World Cup yet. The cost of the tournament led to accusations of overspending and corruption by the Brazilian government, because they were choosing to fund the games instead of improving local infrastructure and housing conditions. Instead, the Estadio Nacional area in Brasilia was built, costing $900 million, triple the intended cost. Hundreds of thousands of fans showed up to the tournament in Brazil. The country also broke records by hosting the Cup in 12 cities.

The 2022 World Cup is scheduled to take place in December and January, instead of June and July due to Qatar’s harsh summer climate.