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Fri 3 Dec 2010 12:23 PM

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World Cups go to risky options as Russia, Qatar picked to host

They were only nations that did not get an overall low risk rating from FIFA’s technical assessment team

World Cups go to risky options as Russia, Qatar picked to host
World’s fastest growing economy plans to build nine stadiums and refurbish three others and construct a rail and metro network for the tournament

Soccer’s governing body chose the risky options to host the World Cup in 2018 and 2022, picking Russia and Qatar as it tries to expand the sport in emerging markets.

FIFA selected the pair during a secret vote yesterday in Zurich. They were the only nations out of nine candidates that didn’t get an overall “low risk” rating from FIFA’s technical assessment team. The Gulf state was the sole “high risk” bid, with Russia the lone “medium risk” candidate.

The decision means that the world’s most watched sporting event will be in developing nations four times in a row. South Africa held the World Cup this year, and Brazil is preparing for the 2014 tournament. Russia, which will be the first Eastern European host, beat England and joint bids from Portugal Spain and the Netherlands Belgium for 2018. Qatar’s victory over the US, Japan, South Korea and Australia moves the event to the Middle East for the first time four years later.

“I can say FIFA opens to new worlds, I cannot be unhappy with that,” said Michel D’Hooghe, a Belgian member of the executive committee who didn’t reveal who he voted for. “That’s the decision of a democratic majority and everybody has to respect that.”

Hosting the tournament is worth about $5 billion, according to US estimates.

Russia had to overcome operational concerns over its airports and international connections, which are rated as high risk. The country still has to build 13 of the 16 proposed stadiums. Qatar will build nine of its 12 stadiums, and air condition them all to deal with temperatures of 46 degrees centigrade (115 degrees Fahrenheit).

“The balance of power is shifting, and FIFA wants to be on the right side of history,” said Stefan Szymanski, a professor at Cass Business School in London. “When FIFA gives the World Cup to young, emerging markets, much of the world thinks that sounds like a good idea.”

It was the second time in a year that the US failed to land one of the world’s biggest sports events. The American bid for the 2016 Olympics was eliminated in the first round of voting by the International Olympic Committee, which picked Rio de Janiero.

The Russian victory gives Prime Minister Vladimir Putin his third success in attracting global sports events to boost the economy and rebuild the country’s image as an athletic superpower. He’s already delivered the 2014 Winter Olympics and a Formula 1 Grand Prix car race starting in 2014.

Putin didn’t attend yesterday’s ceremony, and flew to Zurich to meet with FIFA President Sepp Blatter after the vote.

Putin told: “A lot of stereotypes are rooted from the Cold War era and fly all over Europe and they frighten Europe.  The reality is different, you will come to Russia, you will see how we prepare for the World Cup, you will visit cities, go to matches, communicate with people, you will have a better perception of the country.”

As with South Africa, the award will probably improve sentiment about the winning nations and boost the construction, steel, cement and tourism industries, Troika Dialog Chief Strategist Kingsmill Bond said in a emailed note.

Bondy said: “The Russian market is coming in from the cold. This victory both symbolizes and is likely to reinforce this trend.”

Russia’s bid includes construction of 13 stadiums and renovation of three more at a projected cost of $3.8 billion. Russia committed to make “major upgrades and capacity increases” at most airports serving the proposed host cities.

Qatar, projected by the International Monetary Fund to have the world’s fastest growing economy this year, plans to build nine stadiums and refurbish three others and construct a rail and metro network for the tournament.

Qatar bid chairman Sheikh Mohammed bin Hamad Al-Thani said: “I think FIFA took that bold step forward to say we need to expand the game we need to include people that have not been included in the global football family before.”

Holder of the world’s third largest gas reserves, Qatar is using petroleum wealth to transform itself into a sports and cultural capital with plans to invest $100 billion on infrastructure projects in the next four years, Finance Minister Yousef Hussain Kamal said in June.

Raghavan Seetharaman, CEO of Doha Bank, said: “It should give the economy not less than $150 billion” in revenue over the next 12 years. “This will change the dynamics of the business model here.”

Qatar, which has never played in a World Cup, plans to spend $4 billion on the stadium construction and refurbishment program. Each facility will be designed with a solar powered air conditioning system.

The country also plans to build a rail and metro network, costing more than $25 billion, in Doha and extending to cities outside the capital.

Al Hammadi, who works as a financial professional in Qatar said: “It’s hard to imagine that 30 years ago, this country was nothing but a big patch of sand.” It’s a final pat on the back from the world community that we have accomplished a lot. This is not just for Qatar but for the Middle East as a whole.”

The vote for the two events was marred by FIFA’s suspension of two executive committee members last month following a corruption probe into bids to host the World Cup. Its decision making body was reduced to 22 members.

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Sherif Senoun 9 years ago

I am very proud of Qatar for winning the hosting of the 2022 Fifa football world cup.This is a great success to Qatar and all Middle East region and give a chance to Arabs to show all the world that we have the right and ability to host such big events which was impossible to imagine before. well done Qatar and proceed on your way with full hope to achieve more and more success to Qatari citizens and all Arabs

Gregorio Barrilero 9 years ago

I agree with Sherif. As a resident here I honestly can't see why they would call this bid high risk. This is the perfect place to host an event like this and I view it as a great calculated decision. Qatar is every bit capable of developing all it needs for the World Cup and they additionally have 11 years to do it. Plus, to be honest it is really time to share with a region of the world that has poured so much support into the wonderful sport of football. It's time for Arabia to shine. Congratulations to all Arabs.

Amir 9 years ago

First congratulations to all Arabs .Its very good opportunity to all GCC even Dubai because its move economic very quickly because Qatar needs now a lot of construcation like studium or hotels ......we will see very good movment in GCC stock market .

Jon 9 years ago

Gregorio - maybe you forgot about the 50 deg C heat in the summer time and beverage of choice by most football supporters and how this is at odds with sensitivities of the indigenous population? This is why it was considered "high risk" by FIFA.

Still, in a region which is the first to put forward its "green credentials", I'm looking forward to seeing how the stadiums can be truly "carbon neutral" - or are we just talking about the AC costs here?

Mohamed 9 years ago

i am also so proud that Qatar hosts the FIFA world Cup 2022.
it is a great success and strategic location in the world.
This big event will show that the Arabs can handle it.
Congratulation to Qatar!!!

Premal 9 years ago

I am confidant that Qatar will be able to do the event very succesfully, as the infractructure developtment in the Middle East is excellent. it has the time until 2022 and this is also lead to Qatar emerging as a global player in the world markets.