The football world is set for another record-breaking FIFA World Cup later this year in the controversial setting of Qatar in the Middle East. After some red flags and raised eyebrows after the announcement was made in 2010 that Qatar was hosting the 2022 WC, the country has invested a jaw-dropping $220 billion USD into infrastructure and state-of-the-art stadiums.
After serious bribery allegations and concerns about human rights abuse, in addition to questionable worker safety, FIFA and the Qatar Government have denied any wrongdoings. However, since their bid, a lot has happened. In 2011, a former FIFA Vice President released emails claiming Qatar had ‘bought’ the World Cup. In 2014, The Sunday Times alleged that Mohammed Bin Hammam (AFC President) had paid $5 million to specific football officials for their support in Qatar’s bid, and in 2018 the Sunday Times reported that FIFA would receive $880 million in two separate payments from Al Jazeera, a Qatar news outlet. The list doesn’t end there, but we best move on…
To put it in context, here is what previous countries have spent on their preparation for the World Cup:
- South Africa, 2010: $3.6 billion
- Brazil, 2014: $15 billion
- Russia, 2018: $11.6 billion
- Qatar, 2022: $220 billion
While Qatar is essentially building a city from scratch, it was anticipated they would drop substantially more on their expenditure. In saying this, cash-ridden Qatar has promised a handful of luxuries, including fully air-conditioned stadiums with state-of-the-art cooling technology, given the hot desert climate. Qatar has promised to produce some of the most luxurious and comfortable viewing stadiums ever built. There is no doubt, however, that the spectacle of the world sport will be overshadowed by the disturbing circumstances behind the production of the event that attracts billions of eyes. There are over 1.7 million migrant workers in Qatar, amounting to 90% of the total workforce. There are an estimated seven deaths per day on stadium job sites all over Qatar due to improper and unsafe work safety practices. What’s worse is poor workers are camping nearby the sites lining up for a job knowing full well their lives are at risk.
Let’s look at the numbers. In terms of advertising, going off the standard rate of $25 per thousand views, FIFA has the potential to generate $23 billion in TV ads, billboards and sponsorships all in one month. At the 2018 Russia World Cup, France, who were crowned champions, were awarded $38 million in prize money. The trophy itself, which is made up of 75% gold, is worth approximately $188,000. On average, over 1.1 billion people watch any given game. In Russia 2018, over 2.4 million tickets were sold to live matches.
In what is set to be the last World Cup for icons such as Cristiano Ronaldo and Leo Messi, there will be plenty of sleep lost around the world come December 2022….