What if Qatar loses the 2022 World Cup?

Gary Wright on why it’s time to think the unthinkable

World Cup 2022 will NOT be held during the summer in Qatar. If it does take place there, it will certainly be moved to the winter… however, it looks increasingly likely the tournament could be in a different country.

Sepp Blatter, the 77-year-old president of the world governing football body FIFA, has wriggled and squirmed his way through almost three years of criticism following the award.

Six months ago FIFA – scared of the legal ramifications – insisted the tournament would move to winter only if Qatar asked. But that’s changed, FIFA now says it must move.

Australia will be angered as it has previously been told a winter World Cup is impossible. I doubt that is keeping FIFA up at night though, the Aussies are not really that big on football and they’re too far away for most people to care.

The real danger is the likely rush of legal challenges from the European championships and leagues whose domestic season will be in tatters.  FIFA will be in court for years.

Qatar has been planning for the World Cup, which will transform the nation in so many other ways since, December 2010.

Now though it is time to begin planning for the unthinkable: losing the World Cup 2022.

I suspect there are many in Qatar who wish they had never started the audacious bid, which has achieved its primary aim of putting the country on the international stage (Qatar Foundation sponsorship on Barcelona shirts and the ownership of Paris Saint-Germain are impressive stakes in world football anyway).

The country's wealth means all the construction work will go ahead regardless. The World Cup was a big deadline and deadlines focus minds. They ensure things get done on time (remember Sheikh Mohammad’s 09.09.09 opening for the Dubai Metro?).

Losing the World Cup means Qatar can also spread demand for building materials, which are set to soar in price as demand outstrips supply. Oh yes, it can save $4bn on stadia too.

In five years Qatar has gained enormous influence in the world. From the direction of post-Arab Spring policy across the region to loans for cash-strapped Greece and Italy as well as investment in north American oil exploration.

“Qatar has money to spend and the political will to use it as an extension of its foreign policy,” according to Theodore Karasik, a political affairs analyst at the Dubai-based Institute for Near East and Gulf Military Analysis. “That’s a powerful combination.”

The World Cup bid is a tiny part of Qatar’s expansion onto the global stage. Its award gave the country a focus for massive development.

In three short years the need for that deadline has diminished and if World Cup 2022 does move elsewhere, no one in Qatar should worry. Blatter and his cronies will rightly be left with egg on their faces too.

Rest assured, the construction industry will continue to thrive in Qatar, with or without the World Cup, and the country will continue its unhindered march to world influence.

Join the Discussion

Disclaimer:The view expressed here by our readers are not necessarily shared by Arabian Business, its employees, sponsors or its advertisers.

NOTE: Comments posted on arabianbusiness.com may be printed in the magazine Arabian Business

Please post responsibly. Commenter Rules

Posted by: Jack

Qatar is not culturally capable to withstand such an event. They can't even logistically organise friendly international games like we saw when Brazil Team came to Qatar and most ticket holders were denied entrance because the stadiums were full. Also, players can have heart attacks to play or practice or even walk around in Qatar's weather. There will be lots of clashes between visitor and the police due to the strict rules that forbid almost everything i.e (alcohol, pork, gays, non-conservative cloths, kissing in public, etc...)
If Qatar loses the bid, which I think it is 80%-90% chance, they should focus on making severe changes to their lousy system.

Posted by: Canuck

Hey, look at it this way....it'll be watched on television by most of the Middle East. Why would they care where it is held as long as they can see it on television, anyway.
Avoid the hundreds of thosands visiting public cranked up on booze fighting with all 1000 of the police. Won't be pretty.

Posted by: peter

FIFA cares about one thing money if they hold the world cup in the winter they will get killed in the ratings going up against American football this was a political move that backed fired.

Posted by: Mick

procan.....don't forget the Much Music Video Awards.....pretty sure Maestro Fresh Wes is hosting.

Peter, I grew up watching NFL (as well as everything procan mentioned....even the curling sometimes...I blame my dad) but the NFL viewers might make up for about 5% maximum of the the World Cup viewership. Although, I think it's hovering more around 2%

Posted by: procan

Eh peter do not forget NHL hockey and the NBA basketball ! In Canada we also have CFL football and Curling is another Canadian winter sport.

Posted by: King Kong

Rebidding for a summer world cup was regard as repeating the same mistake months ago. However, as the issue progresses, there are new rationales come into the play. Firstly, one of the main problems is the hidden promise of switching to winter made by the UEFA head before the bid. However, in the new rebid all the ExCo members know the backgrounds and the trustworthiness of the ability of the air-conditioning systems to overcome the heat (including the advertised 'artificial clouds' etc). Secondly, some FIFA officials interpret that the bidding contract had the timing opened for FIFA to select/confirm "in principle". This makes controversy and, luckily, this controversial ambiguity lays the rationale for FIFA to have a rebid on the 2022 World Cup hosting right legally, rationally and, perhaps, emphatically.

Based on the above, FIFA should, for this time, open a rebid with clear and not changeable timing of "hosting in summer of northern hemisphere".

Posted by: chris matthews

they should never have been awarded it.
too small a population
its also almost criminal to spend all that money on 6 weeks of football.
lots of opoeple will not want to go whether ist summer or winter.
come on Qatar be big enough to let it go.
go and spend the money on global education or something.

Posted by: procan

Ahmad if Qatar is living off its world wide muslim reputation cool .Qatar reputation with the tiny portion of the worldwide Global population have no knowledge of Qatar and would have to google it to find you.

Posted by: Ahmad Al Ansari

Small in size and population but too big in reputation, commitment and worldwide achievements. Well don Qatar and keep the hard work.

All comments are subject to approval before appearing

Further reading

Features & Analysis
Qatari cycling event foreshadows 2022 World Cup weather concerns

Qatari cycling event foreshadows 2022 World Cup weather concerns

Competitors at a world cycling competition in Qatar may have...

Bahraini overtures to Kenya-born runners attract medals, controversy

Bahraini overtures to Kenya-born runners attract medals, controversy

Oil-rich Bahrain has been luring poor but talented young runners...

Meddling for medals: the politics of sport in the Gulf

Meddling for medals: the politics of sport in the Gulf

Kuwait’s recent re-suspension from the International Olympic...

Most Discussed