This is the first post in a -part blog series focused on the 2022 World Cup.
Four years ago, more than half the global population tuned in to watch the 2018 FIFA World Cup. Now, only a month away, soccer fans anxiously await the 2022 World Cup. This year, thirty-two countries will compete in the most popular sport in the world in hopes of being crowned champion. With over 3.5 billion fans worldwide and over 250 million players across 200 countries, no other event reaches such a global audience.
The 2022 World Cup in Qatar is the most expensive of all time. According to some estimates, the world cup will cost Qatar around 220 billion dollars. To put this into perspective, this is over 73 times the cost of the 2020 Olympics, and around 19 times higher than the initial cost of the World Cup in 2018. While FIFA covers all of the World Cup operating costs, the host country covers the infrastructure costs. In this case, the 220 billion dollars are allocated toward building 12 new air-conditioned stadiums, $77 billion for developing the facilities for football fans and players, $50 billion for upgrading Qatar's transportation infrastructure, and $17 billion for expanding its housing capacity. Tickets for the FIFA World Cup have also spiked to record numbers, passing the prices of the 2018 World Cup. The ticket prices have increased roughly 46% and range from $600 - $1,600 depending on what round you attend.
This World Cup is the first to be held in the Middle East, and no other event has taken place in the winter in the northern hemisphere. When Qatar was chosen as the host country, Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, and Bahrain had prior imposed air, land, and sea blockades on the country. These blockades caused significant difficulty and expenses when completing the necessary industrial procedures to prepare for the tournament. By opening a new port, increasing food security, and investing in art and culture, the blockade is now over and borders are open just in time for the World Cup.
Not everyone agrees with Qatar hosting the World Cup, especially former FIFA President Sepp Blatter who claims this choice was a "blunder." In 2018, Russia also received pushback for hosting; however, when all was said and done, the event was seen as the best World Cup yet. In recent months, Qatar has been struck with corruption allegations and rising human rights issues following numerous worker deaths. In addition, fans have expressed frustration toward the dates conflicting with the premier leagues, and despite investments made, there is not much to do on the peninsula. To pull off a successful event, Qatar must overcome logistical challenges and accommodate a global fan base.
The World Cup is a major worldwide event with significant economic impacts on the host country, and some argue the costs do not necessarily outweigh the benefits. For any country, hosting international events and conferences is a huge way to diversify the economy. The productions, incomes, and expenditures will all significantly contribute to the rise of Qatar's GDP. Although hosting will cost Qatar, it will also increase investment in the country through an increase in employment, tourism, local businesses, development of infrastructure, and more. This will create over 1.5 million new jobs and bring in over 3.5 million tourists. Looking at projections and effects of the preparations for the games in a month, Qatar's economy will grow by 3.4% following the GDP recovery after the drop from 2013 to 2018. With less than 3 million people, Qatar holds the title of one of the world's wealthiest countries due to its vast amounts of natural gas deposits. After hosting the World Cup, Qatar will hope to hold less reliance on petroleum and instead gain a more diversified service, tourist, and sports-focused economy.
While hosting the World Cup may cause that country considerable expenses and allegations, it is possible Qatar will gain numerous economic benefits beyond the sporting industry. If you believe the World Cup is worth the expense, you may fall into the group of loyal fans, or perhaps you are simply curious about these business impacts. Regardless of why you are looking forward to it, you can prepare to watch the upcoming FIFA World Cup as it kicks off on November 20th!