Qatar’s bid to host the soccer World Cup is the only one of nine contenders to stage the event in 2018 or 2022 to receive an overall “high” operational risk rating from the sport’s governing body.
The country has set aside $50bn to complete works if it wins the right to become the first Middle East host of the World Cup, in 2022. An official document sent by FIFA to its 24-member decision-making body also listed Qatar’s facilities for teams as “high risk.”
In a separate FIFA assessment of all bids made public yesterday, the Gulf state’s suitability to host sport’s most- watched event was questioned because of the “potential health risk” posed by its summer temperatures - which can reach more than 46 degrees centigrade (115 degrees Fahrenheit) - and challenges linked to having 12 stadiums within a 20-mile radius.
“We recognize that concerns have been expressed about climatic conditions in Qatar in the summer months,” the bid’s chief executive officer Hassan Al-Thawadi said in a statement.
“The precautions referred to in the report have already been put in place with our proposed air-cooled solutions for stadiums, training sites, fans zones and other outdoor areas.”
Qatar 2022 had no further comment to add on the document sent to FIFA’s executive committee.
Russia’s proposal to stage the 2018 World Cup is the only other bid not to get an overall “low risk” rating. The country is a “medium risk” operationally amid concerns over its airports and international connections, which are rated as high- risk.
“Risks in the operational area that FIFA has flagged up in their Bid Evaluation Report are already being addressed and will all be solved well ahead of the 2018 FIFA World Cup, should Russia be awarded the honor to stage the event,” Andreas Herren, a spokesman for the bid, said in a statement.
With the final vote set for December 2, other bidding nations have reacted to the publication of the evaluation reports by FIFA.
The US, which is competing with Qatar as well as Australia, Japan, and South Korea for 2022, hasn’t received government guarantees required to stage the 32-team tournament.
The bid committee’s Executive Director David Downs said all those guarantees have been signed, but were modified because of US law.
“We have been in conversations with FIFA about this and they are comfortable with the situation,” Downs said.
Of the 2022 bidders, the US, South Korea and Australia had more “low risk” marks than Japan and Qatar in the 17 categories listed in FIFA’s report.
“Our bid has ticked all of the boxes and our full government guarantees mean we really will be a ‘no worries,’ friendly and safe option for FIFA and the football fans of the world,” Football Federation Australia CEO Ben Buckley said in a statement.
England and Spain/Portugal’s joint offer posed the overall lowest risk in the all-European race for 2018. Then came Netherlands/Belgium and Russia. FIFA has expressed concerns about the practicality of joint bids.
Andy Anson, chief executive of England’s 2018 effort, said the technical reports won’t be the only factor in determining who gets the event, which is worth $5bn according to a report commissioned by the US bid.
“I don’t know if technical reports can win bids but I know they can lose them,” Anson told reporters in London yesterday.
England’s bid has rebounded from the possible damage done to it by revelations in the Sunday Times newspaper that led to the suspension of two FIFA executive committee officials, Anson said.
Nigeria’s Amos Adamu and Tahiti’s Reynald Temarii allegedly told undercover reporters their votes could be bought. They may be expelled from FIFA today when the findings of an investigation are announced.
England last week wrote to the voters to dissociate the bid from the country’s media after officials including FIFA President Sepp Blatter questioned the methods used to uncover information. Anson also visited the British Broadcasting Corp.’s Director General Mark Thompson over a documentary about FIFA that the broadcaster is planning to run days before the final vote.
“If they truly believe there’s a journalistic reason for this they could have done it any time in the last two years. To do it like this is sensationalism,” Anson said. “I didn’t ask him for anything but all I said was, ‘Here are the potential implications.’ It’s not very patriotic of the BBC.”