The 2022 FIFA World Cup will not be held in Qatar, but not because of ongoing allegations of bribery or threats of terrorism due to its near proximity to conflict zones.
“I personally think that, in the end, the 2022 World Cup will not take place in Qatar,” FIFA executive member Theo Zwanziger told German magazine Sport Bild, adding that desert heat will be the downfall to Qatar’s role as the host of the tournament.
“Medics say that they cannot accept responsibility with a World Cup taking place under these conditions.”
Temperatures in the Arab state regularly reach 40°C throughout the year, and as high as 50°C in the summer. To address the issue during the bid process in 2010, Qatar proposed to build air twelve new air-conditioned stadiums, but plans for ‘solution’ were canceled after the tournament was awarded to the nation due to the reasons of cost and the impact to the environment.
However, the health risk is beyond the field of play, affecting fans and tourists as well who must travel in the desert heat to reach stadiums, fan festival sites and other venues.
“They may be able to cool the stadiums but a World Cup does not take place only there,” said Zwanziger. “Fans from around the world will be coming and traveling in this heat and the first life-threatening case will trigger an investigation by a state prosecutor. That is not something that FIFA Exco (Executive) members want to answer for.”
In May, FIFA president Sepp Blatter openly admitted that selecting Qatar in 2010 was “a mistake.” The organization is now attempting to reschedule the tournament to the winter, in December 2022 and/or January 2023, at the risk of upsetting television rights holders who were promised a summer tournament while interfering with the schedules of European leagues and the NFL.
There has been speculation that should Qatar be stripped of its host responsibilities, the United States could become the new host given that it already has the necessary stadiums and infrastructure in place. It also came second against Qatar in the bid to host the 2022 event.
Qatar organizers have also had to face serious allegations that it bribed FIFA executive members during the bid process, forcing FIFA to task American special investigator Michael Garcia to create a special report on the validity of the bribery accusations.
The 350 page report was filed to FIFA over the weekend, but the organization has stated that it will not consider any requests to make it publicly available. In addition to the report, there are 200,000 pages and files of evidence that support the corruption claims.
Construction on World Cup stadiums and infrastructure in Qatar are also well underway, with estimates that all preparations will cost $220 billion. None of the proposed stadiums exist and in some cases entire cities that will host the matches are being built from scratch.
Last year, The Guardian reported that migrant labourers working on World Cup construction projects were being abused and mistreated to the extent that they could be considered as “modern slaves.” There have been mounting deaths, including 185 Nepalese workers in 2013 and over 700 Indians since Qatar was given the rights to host the tournament in 2010.
Feature Image: Qatar Supreme Local Organizing Committee