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Fri 30 Aug 2013 11:55 AM

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What if Qatar loses the 2022 World Cup?

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

What if Qatar loses the 2022 World Cup?

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.

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qwer 6 years ago

I think its time one starts reading between the lines of the subject. Currently world cup issues is being raised up to put pressure on qatar to stay away from middle east issues as a warning.

Big boys knows their ways of arm twisting !!!

Martin 6 years ago

Sometimes, things just don't work out like we want; however, I hope that Qatar continues to hold its head high even if it loses the 2022 World Cup. Its bid alone opened eyes around the world and raised the country's image immensely. This is quite amazing, given that many of us had never even heard of this little country only a few short years ago.

Jim 6 years ago

Complete nonsense. You're pandering to the fantasies of rabid Europeans who can't stand the idea of a WC outside of Europe or SA.

Q2022 is a reality. Deal with it, and stop spinning pipe dreams for your miracle-hungry readership.

Matt Williams 6 years ago

Your arrogance is frankly astounding, deal with what? The issue at hand is that the WC WILL be moved, its just a question of where. It's a shame it really is however it should never have been awarded in the first place if this was always going to be an issue re heat.To call Europeans rabid is both deeply insulting and utterly ignorant. The only rabid elements here are your comments.

Mentabolism 6 years ago

There has been reports that palms were greased and I think the FIFA (read UEFA) is holding out in the hope that more may be doled out.
Does the whole world have to be held hostage to the football schedules of a few countries?
Is it really a deal breaker to play football in the winter?
Who stands to benefit most from moving the games from Qatar? Certainly not football in the region.

Peter 6 years ago

It's ridiculous that the writer of this article seems to suggest all the building work will continue as is even if 2022 were withdrawn. Many of the stadiums were to be built and relocated post the games. So invest billions to build all this now for what?
As for doing things on time, Qatar is not Dubai. In Qatar, we remember 12-12-12 which was the target opening date for the new Qatar airport. The public is still waiting and the blame game continues. The writer needs to do better research.

procan 6 years ago

Eh... Jim its done. All over but the crying Buddy, will yours be the first tear to hit the ground, do not sweat it was never meant to be. Good news Jim we still got NBA, NFL,NHL all going on in the Winter of 2020 .

Brett Stokewell 6 years ago

Simple answer? Yes. Why? Because those leagues are where 80-90 per cent of World Cup-level footballers play.

While a large part resistance to this comes down to the huge financial and logistical cost to clubs, there is also the increased injury risk to players.

Consider it this way. Real Madrid are poised paid £83 million for Gareth Bale. It isn't inconceivable that clubs will be spending £100m and above for the world's best players in 8-9 years from now.

Players of that level are at their peak for say three to four years. Say three years to be conservative. If the World Cup was moved to winter and one of those players was injured at no fault of the club, the club could be looking at a loss of £1m a match for the player.

The clubs aren't going to stand for that. Nor are the players. Nor are the fans.

Bratwurst 6 years ago

The leagues are bound to strict schedules of Bundesliga, Preamier League, Primera Division and many others. In between there are World Cups, the European Cups, Champions League, Super Cup, National Cups... It is a very strict schedule the leagues and teams operate in!

This is then also linked to massive sponsorship deals. Moving it to summer is not impossible, but would mean it needs to be planned now, arranged now and UEFA as one of the most-suffering associations needs to be talked to in order to re-arrange all the European Leagues for 2022. There winter-breaks mid-season, so it is not impossible, but they need to start now!

I disagree with Brett, because injuries don't care whether it is summer or winter. It is not a risk issue, it is simply a schedule issue with the UEFA and FIFA needs to closely coordinate with UEFA.

There is the winter break in Bundesliga, Premier League and others. Why not use this time to run the World Cup in Winter? Would be something new & great!

chris matthews 6 years ago

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.