Doha will need more than cash to host World Cup

21 September 2010

The long-shot bid to host the World Cup in 2022 faces several obstacles. Delivering planned projects on time and harsh climate are key challenges

It is not just Qatar that is eagerly anticipating Fifa’s announcement of the host nation for the 2022 World Cup on 2 December.

Qatar is planning to spend about $50bn to build new stadiums and develop infrastructure if it is successful with the bid. This will create a raft of opportunities and projects for the region’s construction sector. With the economic downturn still impacting much of the Gulf’s development plans, Doha’s ambitious bid is backed by the wealth its natural resources provide.

But before the region’s contractors start rubbing their hands in anticipation, a number of major hurdles face the Gulf’s World Cup dream. While Qatar will have no problem convincing Fifa it has the economic resources to build all that is required, persuading football’s governing body that it can deliver all of its plans within the next 12 years will be more difficult. For such a lightly populated country, delivering all of the required facilities and infrastructure for a major sporting event is a difficult task.

Even if Doha is able to impress Fifa with its proposed project schedules, its World Cup bid may fail due to factors out of its control.

The summer heat is a major concern. In summer, temperatures in Qatar can rise above 50 degrees Celsius, and although Doha has invested a lot of time and money into designing cooling technology for the stadiums, this technology is unproven. It also does not solve the problem of what the estimated 400,000 travelling fans will do in between matches.

Another problem is the lack of sporting tradition. Doha has been able to use its vast wealth to attract high-profile international players to join its national league in recent years, but has made little progress in nurturing its own local talent.

Qatar’s bid to host the World Cup has created a buzz of excitement in the Middle East, but the dream faces an uphill battle. Money can buy stadiums and infrastructure, but it is unlikely it can buy the World Cup.

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