• Appeal is first formal challenge to Fifa’s decision to hold World Cup in winter
  • Court of Arbitration for Sport yet to set a hearing date
  • Legal challenge increases concerns that Qatar may be stripped of 2022 tournament

The Spanish football league (LFP) is mounting a legal challenge to the 2022 Fifa World Cup in Qatar, saying that holding the tournament during Qatar’s winter will cost it an estimated $72m.

LFP’s appeal is the first formal legal challenge to Fifa’s decision to hold the World Cup over the months of November and December, rather than the June-July slot it usually occupies.

Changing the dates for the tournament will cause significant disruption to Europe’s top club leagues, forcing them to shut down for eight weeks.

Since it was awarded the right to host the 2022 World Cup in December 2010, Qatar has been the focus of increasing scrutiny over a wide range of issues including labour rights abuses and corruption.

In May, the negative attention reached fever pitch, with the arrest of senior officials in Zurich on corruption charges and the opening of a criminal investigation into the 2018 and 2022 World Cup awards.

LFP’s challenge to the Fifa decision is likely to increase uncertainty about whether or not Qatar will be stripped of the World Cup.

The economic consequences of Qatar losing the right to host the tournament are uncertain.

US-based Fitch Ratings has said that being stripped of the tournament will be a severe reputational blow for Doha, but will have a limited economic impact.

Paul Gamble, an analyst for Fitch, says many of the infrastructure projects being built ahead of the World Cup would be built anyway as part of the country’s long-term strategy, dubbed Vision 2030.

These include the country’s $21bn metro project and its $20bn expressway programme, both of which are currently under execution.

Other analysts are more concerned about the consequences of losing the tournament.

The US’ Bank of America Merrill Lynch has estimated that about $16bn in direct investment will be threatened if Doha is stripped of the World Cup.

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