February 4, 2023 12:27 pm

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FIFA 2022: A Tournament Too Big For A Host Too Small

Qatar is facing a lot of issues accommodating the flood of spectators that may arrive in the country with the onset of the games.
Silent protests have taken place across the venues so as to highlight the plight of migrant workers.

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Middle East country Qatar is all set to host 22nd FIFA World Cup starting November 2022. The preparations are going on in a full swing. However, even after spending billions of Dollars on building a new Infrastructure to support the game, Qatar is facing logistic issues towards staging of the “Mahakumbh of Football.” This, when controversies continue to cast their shadows on Qatar vis-a-vis hosting world’s most popular ball game.

Qatar is facing a lot of issues accommodating the flood of spectators that may arrive in the country with the onset of the games. The FIFA World Cup is starting on 20th November 2022 and it is going to be attended by a record number of audience. Now to deal with booking in such large numbers, Qatar is planning to set up Tent Cities, Fan Villages and Cruise Hotels to deal with the crowd’s accommodation problem.

As per a data, Qatar has as many as 30,000 Hotel Rooms in all the host cities taken together and surprisingly, FIFA itself has booked 80% of these Rooms for Officials, Players and the associated staff and their families months before the commencement of the mega event. Now, this has caused accommodation issues for the general public who is planning to attend the event. Advisories are being issued for booking tickets, hotels well in advance so as to avoid later inconveniences.

Challenges before Qatar

  • In terms of Area, Qatar is the Smallest Country chosen as the Host in the history of FIFA.
  • Qatar needs to arrange at least 70,000 more rooms to accommodate the guests coming for games.
  • It is estimated that more than 100K people would be in Qatar for the games and thus accommodating them would be an issue.
  • Organisers are offering “Shared Rooms” in private vacant Apartments for accommodation.
  • ‘Tent Cities’ are being built in the ‘Desert Nation’.
  • ‘Fans Village’ and ‘Villas’ are being arranged somehow to offer it to the guests.
  • Two Cruise has been arranged at the Port of Doha and is being sold under the name of “Floating Hotels”.

Qatar is trying hard day and night to come up with solutions to offer ‘four walls and a roof’ to the visitors somehow, given the limited space it has to offer.

The Price and the Visitors

  • Qatar has arranged for ‘Cabins’, ‘Tents’, ‘Pods’ and so on in the Remote Desert Location.
  • Prices for accommodation on the lower side also touches $250 per day mark.
  • Frequent attendees of the games are complaining about the price issues they are facing here in Qatar.
  • Qatar has arranged for as many as 160 flights from Dubai and Abu Dhabi which earlier was limited to 6, in view of easy transport to nearby Gulf Nations and to ease the burden on itself.
  • Qatar is providing $80 per night Sleeping Pod as an option to the visitors and even $3000 accommodation on an Island based on choices.

Matter of Grave Concern

As per the Qatar Supreme Committee (tasked with successfully delivering the tournament), by the time of the World Cup, 1,30,000 rooms would be ready for the visitors as well as players and the FIFA officials. It is confident that the matter of accommodation for the players, sponsors, visitors and FIFA officials will be dealt with. But, the matter is not as smooth as it seems.

  • As per FIFA officials, out of the 30 Lakh tickets available, almost 25 Lakhs have been sold already.
  • FIFA also has predicted that this time a record 12 Lakh people would reach Qatar, the highest ever in the history of the World Cup.
  • The total footfall for the games would be around 40% of the total population of Qatar.

After these announcements and predictions by FIFA, Qatar is in a haphazard situation. Unable to understand how to deal with the upcoming “Flood of People”.

Indians at the games

  • A record number of Indian Fans would visit Qatar for the games this year.
  • During the first phase of ticket selling, the highest ever 23,500 or more tickets have been bought by Indians alone.
  • During the last World Cup held in Russia, 18,000 Indians attended the games.
  • As per the Organisers, Qatar geographical proximity to India and a big fan following for the football in the country , more numbers of Indians are expected to witness the games this year.

Facts about the Games and the Host

  • Qatar won the auction for hosting 22nd FIFA world cup back in 2010.
  • Notably, Qatar would be the first Arab and Muslim country to host FIFA.
  • Preparations for the games are being done for the last 12 years.
  • Qatar has spent a whooping $220 Billion on developing the game’s infrastructure.
  • All the laws applicable in Qatar would be applicable to the visitors.
  • The game is to end on the 18th of December, which also is Qatar’s National Day and for that reason, the timeframe for the World Cup has been reduced to just 28 days.
  • Many Megastars of the Game won’t be there in Qatar for the game due to some reason or the other.

How Ready is Qatar to Pull it Off?

As per reports, Qatar has in the last 12 years undertaken a huge effort to ensure that the “Biggest Sporting Event on Earth” takes place with ease. A country of 2.7 Million people is expecting a Million visitors.

1. Major Progress

  • Qatar has 8 stadiums at different locations.
  • Opened several 5-lane highways.
  • Built a $36 billion metro system just for the games.

2. Major Hurdles

  • Little time to complete the projects now.
  • Stadiums are surrounded by dust and construction material weeks before the start of the main event.
  • Non-availability of Food Zones, Shops, Stalls and Amusement areas within close proximity of the venues.
  • Some under-construction hotels, accommodations and other areas don’t seem to be getting ready after the event is all set to begin.
  • Several buildings around the Lusail Stadium (where World Cup Finals would be held) would still take years to complete.

Host surrounded by Controversy

Back in August 2022, Qatar tried to silent protests around the FIFA preparations by arresting more than 60 migrant workers, who were raising their voice against the dire conditions they were facing in this gulf country.

As per a report by ‘The Guardian‘ from February 2021, more than 6,500 migrant workers have died in a decade since Qatar has bagged to host title for FIFA. These workers were mostly from the Indian sub-continent which includes, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Nepal and Sri Lanka. Reports from other countries haven’t been released by the respective embassies. It is noteworthy that Qatar has a combined strength of 2 Million migrants workforce. Suicides, Electrocution, Heat Stress and Mysterious “Natural Death” are common occurrence in the nation.

It is notable that the Qatar administration themselves admitted that the workers were exploited during the course of the event preparation, as reported by Associated Press. The workers were mentally, physically and emotionally exhausted to the point that many committed suicides rather than managing to get some remedy. The maximum work limit of 60 hours a week was never followed and the treatment of the migrants was totally inhuman. Neither were they being paid much as per international standards.

There were multiple reports in the media as to why, Qatar is a Controversial Venue for the World Cup 2022, and why Hosting rights should be taken away from Qatar with immediate effect. The controversy grew so much that even World Trade Organisation (WTO) which has signed an MoU with FIFA to use football as a driving force for the economic and social development had to issue a clarification. Its director has to come up and clarify on International stage that they aren’t “shying away” from the controversy.

The Controversy around Human Rights abuse was so much in the thick of news that ‘Hummel International‘, a Denmark based sportswear company, Official maker of the Danish team’s World Cup Jersey revealed that that this year the colour of the team’s jersey would be Non-branded.

The company took to Instagram to post official jersey of Denmark team with caption that reads, “Black ⚫ The colour of mourning. The perfect colour for Denmark’s third shirt for this year’s World Cup. While we support the Danish national team all the way, this shouldn’t be confused with support for a tournament that has cost thousands of people their lives. We wish to make a statement about Qatar’s human rights record and its treatment of the migrant workers that have built the country’s World Cup stadiums. #HistoryIsWhatWeDoNow

Another post on their Instagram reads, “We believe that sport should bring people together. And when it doesn’t, we want to make a statement.”

Qatar and Booze Controversy

  • Qatar being an Islamic nation has strict restrictions in terms of Alcohol Consumption.
  • Fans are having tough times processing the fact that they won’t get alcohol easily.
  • After much consideration, Qatar relieved restrictions by allowing Liquor consumption in luxury hotels, bars and pubs.
  • The price for a pint of beer would be as high as $10-15.
  • Strict restrictions have been placed on bringing your own booze to the country.
  • “Alcohol would be served 3 hours before and 1 hour after the match to ticket holders but taking it to the stands won’t be permitted”, said Nasser Al Khater, CEO of the 2022 FIFA World Cup.
  • Non-muslim residents of Qatar will have to secure permits for buying alcohol.
  • However, Visitors won’t be allowed to buy alcohol, other than Hotels, Restaurants, bars, pubs and Fan Village.
  • Sources have revealed that there would be strict punishment for anyone caught with alcohol other than the authorised area.
  • A prison sentence of six-month or a fine of up to $800 would be imposed if someone is caught disobeying the law.

How dependable is Qatar as a Host?

Qatar is deeply conservative in its approach towards certain things being an Islamic Nation.

Questions are still unanswered over the safety of people from various groups willing to fly into Qatar for the games. Being a Muslim Nation, and having all its national laws intact even during the games, people from the LGBTQ community are unsure about their attendance in the games due to strict Homosexuality Laws in the country.

There have been multiple calls for the fans to Boycott the Qatar 2022 World Cup for multiple reasons and it has been strong in many parts of the world where sanity still prevails.

Being a small country with limited resources, Qatar even lacks the security needed for the Games. Its long-time ally Turkey has agreed to provide 3000 Armed Forces for the security of the visitors. Also, the UK has agreed to provide Air Patrol for the duration of the game. The US will be employing its jets and personnel at the US Airbase in Qatar for security.

Qatar has in the past imprisoned and banned activists throwing light on the ‘Labor and Human Rights Abuse’ during the preparations of the games. Migrant workers have been treated miserably in the country for time and eternity. they have been muzzled for speaking up.

Qatar, except for its propaganda channel Al-Jazeera, doesn’t believe in any media organisation and press freedom in the nation is a joke altogether. Speaking out against the abuses may even result in you in jail and the slightest public protest or observance could land you behind the bars for a long.

Qatar has been accused of being involved in Bribery to gain the hosting for the cup. It was revealed by The Sunday Times that bribery as high as $5 Million were given to officials in return for a hosting opportunity.

The many first this time

  • This time would be the first world cup in the middle east.
  • Qatar is going to be the first Muslim country to host the FIFA World Cup.
  • Qatar would also be the first Arab country to host the World Cup.
  • It would be the first time that the tournament would be happening in the Winters of Northern Hemisphere.
  • Qatar is the smallest country where the biggest event in football is to be held.
  • After Japan-Korea’s joint hosting in 2002, the possibility of sharing hosting responsibilities was looked upon but was ruled out eventually.

Way Forward

It would be interesting to see if the country of just 2.7 Million residents could pull it off and be a perfect host for a crowd of almost 40% of its population. If successful, Qatar as planned could eye on hosting the 2036 Summer Olympics as well and this FIFA event would turn into a major game-changer for the nation. Qatar has only a few weeks left to make it before the ‘first ball is kicked’.

Suman Shekhar
Suman Shekhar
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