Organisers of the 2022 FIFA World Cup in Qatar are planning to build just eight stadiums ahead of the tournament, despite originally pledging to use 12.
The initial plans were for Qatar to have 12 stadiums for the tournament, comprised of nine entirely new grounds and three refurbished, but it appears that the cuts are being made for financial reasons.
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According to Zainab Fattah and Robert Tuttle of Bloomberg.com, Qatar plans to spend more than $200 billion on infrastructure for the event, including $4 billion on stadia alone.
However, with work on the airport and metro links suffering major delays, along with rising costs relating to tournament preparations, the organisers have decided to cut a third of the originally suggested stadiums.
Whilst the organisers have yet to give a reason for the cuts, the Supreme Committee for Delivery & Legacy did defend the decision in an email to the Associated Press.
They told the Associated Press (via SportingNews.com) “"This is the same process that all FIFA World Cup host nations undergo. For Qatar, the process of selecting the final proposed lineup of host venues is ongoing. The requirement is a minimum of eight and maximum of 12.”
This latest development is not the first time time Qatar’s World Cup bid has been called into question. The Western Asian nation famously won the rights to host the tournament in 2010, under very questionable circumstances.
Qatar overcame bids from Australia, Japan, South Korea, and the United States. However, there has been wide speculation that the voting system was flawed—a theory that became even more believable amidst recent findings surrounding payments made to senior representatives around the time of bidding.
As reported by the Telegraph's Claire Newell, Holly Watt, Claire Duffin, Ben Bryant and Alastair Good last month, “Jack Warner, the former vice-president of FIFA, appears to have been personally paid $1.2 million from a company controlled by a former Qatari football official shortly after the decision to award the country the tournament.”
Many officials have suggested that the summer climate would make Qatar an inhospitable destination for the competition, leading to the notion of a winter World Cup to be considered in great depth—to the disgust of football fans across the globe, particularly in Europe.
With the continuing problems encountered during the build-up this summer’s tournament in Brazil, in addition to those in South Africa four years ago, FIFA will have been desperate to see the planning for this competition run smoothly.
The fact there are major worries about the competition eight years before it starts is a real cause for concern.
Is it possible for Qatar to host a successful tournament and what impact will this latest announcement have on the 2022 competition? Post your thoughts below