Qatar 2022: 5 Reasons Why Their World Cup Could Be a Huge Success
Many readers will look at the title of this article and immediately dismiss it.
But, you should know, I am not wholly convinced about FIFA's decision to award the 2022 World Cup to Qatar, either.
In fact, I was almost certain that the tournament would fall into the hands of the United States. Considering the vast number of immigrants from competing nations already in the country, along with the phenomenal infrastructure and stadiums that currently exist to host a tournament of such caliber, it is a shock FIFA did not make a wiser selection.
I will not be a sore loser, though. Instead, I think it is important to look on the bright side.
Not taking into account the searing heat, alcohol bans, dearth of quality stadiums and lack of any major international competitor in the Middle East (especially the underwhelming host nation), the Qatar tournament might actually be worth it.
In these upcoming slides, I give you five good reasons to look forward to the 2022 World Cup in Qatar.
Compels Cultural Change and Progress in a High-Risk Region of the World
This may sound culturally biased, but there is little argument of the fact that Qatar presents a risk to European, Latin American and North American attendees to the 2022 World Cup.
The lack of familiarity with the region, the cultural and political implications of Islamic law (which makes alcohol difficult to obtain, bans homosexuality and has radical consequences for immodest dress) and the ever-present risk of terrorism is enough to make any Westerner feel uncomfortable.
While any region of the world is at risk for terrorist aggression, the tragic events of this week in Libya and throughout the Arabian peninsula bring to light that terrorist forces are still a very particular danger in the Middle East. And, though the majority of the people may be peaceful, many of the world’s terrorist networks find their backing and influence among such populations.
Pressure from FIFA and football’s other governing bodies will force Qatar to crack down and loosen up on many issues prior to the tournament in order to make foreign fans more comfortable. Safety precautions will be at a maximum and labor unions throughout the world have already threatened boycott of the tournament if the Qatari government does not improve its miserable standards for laborers, who are mostly immigrants from other parts of Asia and Africa.
So, one can assume that the Qatari's will make numerous concessions and be on their best behavior.
And it is true that the possible changes compelled by the World Cup arguably would not happen if the spotlight were not so brightly shone on the Middle East. Many will be hoping that long-lasting change can be sparked in the region both politically and socially.
If not, this tournament could prove a massive mistake in every regard.
Allows Incentive and Opportunity for Non-European Nations
Being in the United States, most local soccer fans are far more interested in European football and its domestic leagues than their South American, Asian or even North and Central American counterparts.
The heavy television coverage of the European Championships, Champions League, Europa League and the English Premier League (among the other top competitions in Spain, Italy and Germany), has promoted the idea that European nations are either superior or tend to dominate most important global championships. So, it is not uncommon to find American soccer fans supporting European club teams over MLS teams, or even throwing their support behind England or Spain ahead of the United States in international games.
The 2022 WC in Qatar will provide added incentive for non-European nations, who are already under-represented in major tournaments (13 representatives for Europe to six, the next highest, for Africa), to further prepare and take advantage of the sport’s biggest tournament on largely foreign soil for most entrants.
By 2022, African and Asian football will be much improved and South America should continue to present a major threat, even if it may only be via traditional powerhouses Brazil and Argentina.
No other major intercontinental tournament has been played in any part of the Middle East, so the climate and surroundings will be just as alien to most of the competitors, presenting one of the most even fields in a long time for the World Cup.
Less Travel for Competing Teams within the Host Nation
While geographically larger nations such as the United States and Australia, who both bid for the 2022 World Cup, provide the benefit of sightseeing and often greater resources, Qatar’s miniscule size has its own conveniences for competing teams.
Most of the 12 venues are located in or in very close proximity to Doha, the nation's largest city. And the entire country is only about the size of Rhode Island and Connecticut combined.
That will mean competing teams will have far less travel than could have been expected in most other countries. For fans, that may prove slightly boring (although the stadiums, if they are carried out according to plan, will surely be a delight), but it will be much less of a burden for players recovering in short time and traveling for matches.
Despite potentially being congested for fans, federations and press, matches should reap the benefits of replenished players who will have no trips away from the Eastern side of the micro-nation and very little distance to cover anyway.
Develops Fascinating Technology for Sporting Use
Qatar's bid for the 2022 World Cup was the only one deemed "high-risk" by FIFA.
As one would assume, this is not necessarily due to political issues surrounding Sharia law and terrorism in the Middle East, but mostly as a result of the unbearable climate during the country's summer months.
It is not unusual for temperature levels to touch 115 degrees Fahrenheit in June and July, which would not only be a risk for fans, but especially players on a sunlit pitch training and playing in the afternoon hours.
The nation has suggested solutions to the heat issues by vowing to build air-cooled stadiums, fan zones, training sites and other outdoor areas for tourists. So far, nothing of that caliber has been seen in world football and it could set a marvelous precedent for future events in climatically hostile regions.
Qatar is also planning to build nine stunning stadiums, such as the one pictured above, that will be the first of their kind in the world. They presumably will be zero-carbon, air-conditioned and fashioned by world-renowned architects.
With the endless sum of money possessed by the oil-rich state, technology could be built in Qatar that will not only fascinate, but also help other Middle Eastern nations develop similar structures for hosting major tournaments.
Encourages Development of Qatari and Middle Eastern Football
According to the updated FIFA World Rankings, Qatar currently sits 96th ranked among all footballing nations. That is significantly lower than South Africa in 2010—the lowest ranked nation to ever host a World Cup.
In the entire Middle Eastern region, Iran is the highest-placed, although that is only enough for 54th on FIFA’s list. Their competitive record boasts solely of sporadic successes, with their last WC appearance ending in a first round exit and no Asian Cup final victory since 1976.
With Qatar’s tournament now ten years away, one can be certain that young men all over the country are preparing with great intensity in hopes of making what could potentially be their country’s first ever appearance in a World Cup.
Neighboring nations such as Kuwait, Bahrain, UAE and other Middle Eastern representatives like Iraq and Jordan, which have made strides toward improvement in recent years, might also be galvanized to take advantage of sport’s most popular tournament being played almost in their backyards.
While the 2010 World Cup in South Africa eventually proved a disappointment for that continent's entrants—only Ghana made it out of the Group Stage—Middle Eastern nations have ten years to prepare and mount a strong challenge in a very unfamiliar climate for powerhouse federations such as Europe and South America. That will play to their benefit.
Surely, the next few years will see more money poured into Qatari and Arab football more than previous years. Hopefully, it proves worthwhile in time for 2022.