As the bidding process for hosting the 2022 World Cup in Qatar began, little was known about the country. What was known is that it sits on top of an enormous natural gas field and would have been a lucrative target for any organization looking to cash in on the global soccer craze. Qatar has come a long way since then and now stands as one of the front-runners to host soccer’s biggest event in years. They are widely accepted to have won the bid after bribing officials and making promises that are unlikely to be kept. Here, we take a look at everything you need to know about 2022 World Cup host Qatar, from infrastructure projects and stadiums to social issues and power struggles within their government.
Infrastructure Projects Qatar
In order to be ready to host the 2022 World Cup, Qatar first had to put in place 21st century infrastructure. They have set a goal of completing 175 new or upgraded infrastructure projects by 2020, and construction on two new airports is already underway. The aim is to expand Qatar’s current 600-kilometer-long highway network to 8,500 kilometers, connect all cities with a population of over 5,000 people, and connect all districts of the country with an urban road network of at least 500 kilometers. There is also a concerted effort to expand Qatar’s existing power grid, aiming to improve electric current transmission and distribution capabilities from 20,000 megawatts to 100,000 megawatts.
Qatar World Cup Stadiums
It was announced in March of 2017 that Al Sadd Stadium in Doha would host the final of the 2022 World Cup. The stadium is located in the heart of Doha’s western suburbs and is home to Qatari club Al Sadd. The stadium has a capacity of 80,000 fans, making it one of the most modern and accessible World Cup venues to date. Another stadium that will be used for the 2022 World Cup is Lusail Stadium. Located in the middle of Lusail City, which is a new urban community built specifically for the 2022 World Cup, Lusail Stadium will also be used as a training venue.
The Qatar National Football Team
The first goal of any World Cup host country is to crown a national team to take to the international stage. The Qatar national football team is off to a strong start. They made their international debut in 2005, playing a friendly against Bahrain. Since then, they have played in the Gulf Cup of Nations, the Asian Cup, and the Arab Cup of Nations. In the 2015 AFC Asian Cup, a tournament that Qatar had been hosting since 2011, the Qataris were the most dominant team. They won the tournament without conceding a goal and scored a whopping 13 goals in the process. They also won the Gulf Cup of Nations in 2014 and 2015, making them one of the front-runners to host the 2022 World Cup.
Social Issues in Qatar
Qatar has been at the center of a media firestorm since the 2022 World Cup bid was announced. Qatar’s World Cup bid failed to answer many questions about their policies, especially in regards to their treatment of migrant workers. The tournament is set to take place during the summer and it is believed that a large portion of the construction workers arriving and staying in Qatar for the tournament will be from the Philippines and India. Human Rights Watch has expressed concern about the treatment of these workers in Qatar, claiming that they are often exploited, abused and cheated, and that many do not have contracts.
Power Struggles in Qatar
In June of 2017, the Qatar government was accused of using anti-terror laws to silence dissent, a philosophy also employed by Saudi Arabia. The government has created a controversial “influence-operation” law that allows the government to arrest people if they believe they are attempting to influence the state against the interests of the emirate. The law has been criticized as giving the government unlimited powers to crack down on dissent. The alleged use of this law led to the resignation of the head of the state’s Human Rights Committee and sparked widespread criticism of the government.
Qatar has a great chance to light up the world when the 2022 World Cup comes around. The Gulf nation is one of the most modern and advanced nations in the Middle East, boasting a free press and a booming economy. Its infrastructure projects and stadium construction are impressive, and the country is preparing to host the biggest sporting event in the world. If Qatar can manage the issues associated with hosting the World Cup, it could be a game changer for the region.