FIFA World Cup kicks off with huge investments and controversy

Qatar, the smallest country to host the FIFA World Cup to date, was also the country that spent the most money with an investment of 220 billion dollars.

With huge money spent, sustainability discussions, and alcohol bans, FIFA World Cup 2022 started in Qatar.


Qatar became the first Arab state to host the FIFA World Cup 2022, which started yesterday and will run until 18 December.

Qatar, which made history as the smallest country to organize the event with a population of less than 3 million, has spent approximately 220 billion dollars since it was chosen as the host. That’s more than 15 times what Russia spent at the 2018 event.

In this process, sustainability issues and human rights violations came to the fore as often as infrastructure investments and expenditures. Amnesty International first reported human rights violations in 2016. The country has also come under scrutiny for employing 1.7 million workers, most of them immigrants, in massive projects in inappropriate conditions and even causing deaths.

With huge money spent, sustainability discussions, and alcohol bans, Qatar FIFA World Cup 2022 started.

 Contribution to the 2030 national vision

The new infrastructure being built for mega sporting events in Doha is thought to have a significant impact on the local economy. Stadiums were designed by world-renowned architects for the event, where more than 1 million visitors were expected, and support areas, training grounds, and open spaces for tourists were built from scratch. It is thought that the organization, which accelerates growth in various sectors such as travel and tourism, accommodation, and infrastructure, will make a significant contribution to the realization of Qatar’s 2030 National Vision.


Neighboring countries also revived

With the arrival of tens of thousands of football fans, mostly from Europe and South America, neighboring countries are also becoming a base for the Qatar World Cup.

“The high-visibility tournament will certainly be an important milestone in the country’s journey towards a modern, knowledge-based economy,” Khristo Ayad, advisor to InStrat, an independent research and advisory platform operating in Doha, told Al-Monitor. Qatar has positioned the World Cup as an opportunity to build bridges between the Arab and Western worlds.”

What will be the long-term effects?

Although hosting a major sporting event can boost the construction and tourism industries in the short term, the foreign investment effect is usually evident in the long term.

Moscow earned $14 billion after hosting the 2018 World Cup. However, the investments made did not have an increasing effect on incomes in the long run.

The experience of another host country, South Africa, was no different.

Short-term advantages for the host country can turn into disadvantages in the long term. Excessive spending on infrastructure and stadiums can leave some homeowners in huge debt and are left with little-used structures after the FIFA World Cup ends. Brazil spent about $11.6 billion for the 2014 World Cup. However, Mane Garrincha Stadium, whose construction cost about 1 billion dollars, is used as a bus garage today. 

It was calculated that the 2022 FIFA World Cup could bring Qatar $20 billion, but this figure was later revised to $17 billion.

However, hosting the FIFA World Cup is considered an honor among a country, as it is the most popular sport in the world with more than 5 billion fans despite all its advantages and disadvantages. 

As the 2022 FIFA World Cup is the first event of this scale to be held in the Arab world, it is also thought that Qatar will further consolidate its position as an important center with relevant investments.

Sustainability concerns

One of the most important concerns and criticisms of the FIFA World Cup held in Qatar is in the field of sustainability. Fossil fuel-rich Qatar has a poor environmental record. The organizers claim that the event will be the first carbon-neutral FIFA World Cup in history. Although the event’s sustainability statement states, “Our goal is to balance all greenhouse gas emissions while developing low-carbon solutions in Qatar and the region,” in a report published in June, the nonprofit platform Carbon Market Watch said the carbon neutral claim was “simply unbelievable”. Carbon Market Watch says carbon emissions will be much higher than the 3.6 million tons estimated by the organizers and that offset plans have “low environmental integrity”. claimed to have. “The fact that FIFA made this bold but fantastic claim has at least raised awareness for many people and made them reflect on the impact their favorite sports have on the planet,” Carbon Market Watch expert Khaled Diab told Dezeen. A similar discussion came to the fore with the “green laundering” discussions before the Tokyo 2020 Olympics.

Such events should not be marketed as carbon neutral

Carbon Market Watch believes such events “should never be marketed as carbon neutral.” He is skeptical that major tournaments such as the World Cup and the Olympics can reach this standard. “It’s not possible to have a global sporting event that is carbon neutral and certainly involves building big new infrastructure. Sporting events aim to minimize climate and environmental impacts and be more sustainable without claiming to be carbon neutral,” Diab says.


FIFA World Cup 2022 is the first winter World Cup event to take place in the northern hemisphere. An exception was made this time due to the high temperatures in the organization, which is usually held in the middle of the year.

the most expensive

The host country may use the stadium, highway, hotel, etc. to prepare for the event. It has spent about $220 billion on infrastructure projects that include construction. The event became one of the most expensive World Cups.

least stadium

Qatar has hosted the World Cup with the fewest stadiums in recent years. Matches will be played in only 8 stadiums. 7 of them were newly built. In 1978, Argentina hosted the FIFA World Cup with 6 stadiums.

Smallest host country

With an area of ​​11,571 km² and a population of 2 million 881 thousand, Qatar is the smallest country to host the FIFA World Cup. 

Record the number of visitors

According to forecasts, the Qatar FIFA 2022 World Cup could receive a record number of visitors until the tournament ends. The favorable geographical location of Qatar, one of the best countries in the Middle East, also makes the visit attractive.

Air-conditioned stadiums

For the first time in history, a country is hosting the FIFA World Cup in fully air-conditioned stadiums. 8 pitches in Qatar are fully air-conditioned. Each stadium needs about 115 MWh per game for cooling. This figure means approximately 43,560 household air conditioners per stadium.

Most expensive match tickets

2022 FIFA World Cup tickets are now on sale at the highest prices ever. The prices of the final tickets are about 46 percent higher than the prices of the 2018 Russia final tickets. The prices of the tickets for the final match were announced as 5,850 Qatari Rials for the 1st Category and 750 Qatari Rials for the 4th Category. 

On or next to the stadium image,
the largest of the 8 stadiums, with a capacity of 80 thousand

Lusail Stadium 80,000

Al Bayt Stadium 60,000

Ahmed Ben Ali Stadium 44,740

Khalifa International 40,000

Al Thumama Stadium 40,000

Stadium 974 40,000

Education City Stadium 45,350

Al Janoub Stadium 40,000

The sports market is growing in Middle East countries

According to PwC’s Middle East Sports data, growth in the global sports market is expected to slow by 3 percent in the next 3-5 years. In the same period, a growth rate of 8.7 percent is expected in the Middle East region. The Formula 1 Grands Prix held in Abu Dhabi, Bahrain, and Jeddah, as heavyweight boxing champion Anthony Joshua’s match in Saudi Arabia and Qatar, which hosted the 2022 FIFA World Cup, stand out as examples.

PwC research reveals that Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) member states, including Saudi Arabia and the UAE, spend more than $65 billion on sports development.


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