A FIFA study has determined that holding the 2022 World Cup in Qatar is a “low legal risk” proposition. Exactly what “low legal risk” means in this context is hard to say, given what we already know about the disastrous planning for 2022 and the new nonsense conclusions in FIFA’s study.
The tournament is scheduled to open on November 21, 2022, a date selected to offset the scorching Qatar summer months of June and July, when the World Cup is typically held.
The completion of the FIFA feasibility study comes nearly a decade after the initial voting took place in 2010. Its results span 83 pages and were first reported by Rob Harris from the Associated Press.
The study also comes with some, ah, asterisks.
FIFA’s main finding was that this history-in-the-making, 48-team World Cup – still estimated to take place only over the course of the tournament’s usual 28 days – would be possible so long as the nation tagged one of their neighbors for an assist.
Of the five countries surrounding Qatar — Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain, Kuwait, and Oman — at least three of them are on, let’s call it shaky terms, with the host nation.
In 2017, Qatar said “thank you, next” to the Saudis, UAE, and Bahrain, and no longer have an economic, diplomatic, or even a travel relationship with the nations. As Qatar has to approve its co-host country, its political ties make finding a local partner a bit trickier.
Aside from getting assistance from its neighbors, Qatar would simply need more stadiums to make six-games-a-day to start — in order to meet the dates — even possible. The nation has already begun building eight new stadiums, but the number simply isn’t enough.
Logically, there would need to be an additional two to four stadiums, each with at least 40,000 seats (based on a standard set for 2026 World Cup bidders, though not verified for the 2022 tournament), in order to make 64 games with nearly 50 teams, happen in less than a month, according to the study.
Spinning up that many new stadium projects on top of the already-troubled development would surely exacerbate the vast number of humanitarian issues surrounding the Qatar World Cup. Since 2017, journalists, activists, and other everyday citizens have been persecuted for speaking out against the government and its policies. This has been true in Qatar as well as the surrounding countries, most recently in Saudi Arabia.
Public censorship has become an everyday occurrence. Internet access is cut off; public newspapers are shut down. Migrant workers suffer abuse, and women receive little to no justice in domestic violence cases.
And somehow FIFA thinks that it will achieve a “low legal risk” result by replicating this work environment in a neighboring country, with a fraction of the time to prepare.
There’s still a little over two years for the answer to surface, but from what we’ve been able to gather from history, it’s that legislation can change, but putting it into practice takes more than two years to accomplish.