DOHA - Summer temperatures which can soar
to above 50 degrees Celsius and a concern about lack of
infrastructure did not deter FIFA on Thursday from awarding the
2022 World Cup to the tiny Gulf state of Qatar.
The Middle East has never before hosted a major global
sporting event and analysts said Qatar's win would do much to
boost the region's global profile.
FIFA were likely to have been swayed by Qatar's hefty
financial prowess with money no object for the world's largest
exporter of liquefied natural gas.
The country's economy, forecast to grow by 15.5 percent this
year, is expected to soar by a staggering 21 percent in 2011,
allowing Qatar to pour as much cash as necessary into
preparations for 2022.
It is likely to spare no expense in constructing stadiums
for the event. The ultra-modern Lusail Stadium, which has yet to
be built, will host the opening and final matches.
With a capacity of 86,000 and surrounded by water, it will
take four years to build and is expected to be completed by
Under the proposals submitted to FIFA, Qatar would renovate
three stadiums and build nine new ones, with the 12 stadiums
divided among seven host cities.
The total cost of the construction and renovation is
estimated at around $3 billion. It submitted a budget of $645.5
million to run the Confederations Cup in 2021 and the World Cup
the following year. It projects a total number of 2,869,000
tickets will go on sale.
Still, much remains to be done, and many wonder whether even
12 years will be enough. The country is still being built, with
much of the capital city Doha resembling a construction site.
Qatar has launched a huge spending programme in recent years
to build infrastructure needed to accommodate its rapidly
expanding population, now estimated at 1.7 million.
Over the next five years, the country will build a $25
billion rail network, an $11 billion new airport, a $5.5 billion
new deep water seaport and a $1 billion crossing linking the new
airport with mega-projects in the northern part of the capital,
Doha. It will also spend an additional $20 billion on new roads.
Plans are in place to complete a metro system connecting
each stadium by 2017 with venues no more than one hour apart
from each other.
"Budget is not a constraint," said Jamal Al-Kaabi, manager
of roads and drainage at Ashgal, Qatar's Public Works Authority.
Doubts linger over whether Qatar will be able to handle an
influx of about 400,000 fans, many on a tight budget. Hosting a
World Cup would require the capacity for 32 teams, their
travelling fans and a huge media presence.
The country currently has about 50,000 hotel rooms and will
need 60,000 to meet the requirements of world soccer's governing
body. Bid leaders have promised 95,000 rooms will be available
"With the Asian Games, it became a last-minute panic to get
everything ready and in place," one Doha resident said. "The
biggest thing is that there is so much to be done. It's a
monumental task, and you need to finish it a few years early."
The country's conservative social mores may present a larger
challenge than bid organisers anticipated. While it has become
more Westernised in recent years, it is still a relatively
closed Islamic nation.
Although Qatar has been eager to display a liberal and
welcoming image to inspectors and media during recent months,
the sale of alcohol and the possibility of rowdy behaviour from
World Cup fans are likely to be a significant hurdle in an
Islamic country where public drunkenness is prohibited.
Bid representatives have said alcohol will be allowed in
designated areas throughout the tournament.
Although the tournament is played during the two hottest
months of the year, bid organisers said the heat would not be an
issue thanks to climate-controlled, zero-carbon-emitting
The country has harnessed solar-powered technology to cool
stadiums to about 27 Celsius.
The stadiums would also be partly dismantled after the
finals, with the extra seating shipped to developing nations who
could reconstruct them as smaller stadiums for their own use, a
plus for developing football globally, bid organisers said.
Qatar will be the smallest host nation to stage the finals
since Uruguay hosted the first World Cup in 1930. Ten out of its
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