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2022 FIFA World Cup: Issues with Qatar

09/22/2014 03:24 EDT | Updated 11/22/2014 05:59 EST
Qatar is feeling the heat to relinquish hosting rights to the 2022 FIFA World Cup. And not just because of the heat. 

Ever since the oil-rich Gulf state was chosen in January 2010 as host nation for the quadrennial kickfest eight years hence, Qatari organizers have been accused of everything from bribery to human rights abuses. 

Speculation persists that FIFA, the world governing body for soccer, is contemplating a shift in the World Cup schedule to winter or relocating the tournament altogether. 

Here is a list of the issues confronting the 2022 FIFA World Cup, with quotes from Qatari 2022 secretary general Hassan al-Thawadi:

Weather  

Temperatures in Qatar routinely soar above 40 Celsius in June and July. Organizers have promised venues will be equipped with "hi-tech, carbon-neutral cooling systems." Regardless, the temperature at field level will be sweltering and border on dangerous for the players. 

That said, holding the World Cup in Qatar from, say, November to December or January to February to avoid the summer heat will create havoc among domestic leagues, which will be well underway everywhere else. 

Qatar Quote: 

"Our [cooling] system is sustainable. It is clear a World Cup in the summer is possible. But if FIFA wants to reschedule the tournament, that is also OK with us." 

- Related Link:Qatar will not host 2022 World Cup: Zwanziger

History

FIFA requires a minimum of eight venues for the World Cup, including one with 80,000-plus seats. Qatar, which boasted neither a rich soccer legacy nor a stadium when it won the bidding process, promised to commit $4 billion to build 10 stadiums (later lowered to eight), plus an estimated $40 billion to upgrade infrastructure like airports, seaports, roads and transit.  

Qatar Quote:

"A true international legacy with no white elephants." 

- Related Link:FIFA receives evidence from Qatar probe

Politics

FIFA figured that Qatar hosting the World Cup would boost soccer's popularity in surrounding Arab and Muslim countries. But recent events in places like Egypt, Libya, Syria, Tunisia, Libya and Yemen make such reasoning hard to justify.  

Qatar Quote:

"It is the first World Cup in the Middle East and will be a platform that brings people together. It will leave a positive legacy." 

- Related Link:No convincing legacy for host nations

Corruption

Qatar's harshest critics allege officials tempted voters with cash incentives to win the bidding process. In response, FIFA launched an investigation into the allegations of corruption.

The scrutinous British media, meantime, linked a $5-million dollar slush fund controlled by Qatari billionaire Mohamed bin Hammam, a former FIFA executive, to payments to African soccer officials.

Media reports also alleged payments to former FIFA vice-president Jack Warner and a natural-gas agreement with Thailand in return for its support. 

Qatar Quote:

"Mr. Bin Hammam is from Qatar. But he was not a member of Qatar's bid team. [The allegations] do not implicate our bid. They are instead a series of tenuous links that attempt to assume guilt by association." 

- Related Link:Corruption alleged in Qatar World Cup bid 

Human Rights 

Qatar has roughly two-million residents, with only 300,000 considered citizens. The vast majority of the population is said to be migrant workers.

The International Labour Organization cites human rights abuses aplenty in Qatar, including allegations of appalling working conditions and outright slavery. 

Media reports estimate at least 1,000 migrant workers dedicated to the World Cup project itself have died.  

Qatar Quote:

"We pledged that this tournament would be a catalyst for accelerating improvement in our nation and the region. One example of this is our comprehensive engagement on the issues we face in regard to labour. We implemented worker welfare standards. This is spurring change and engagement." 

- Related Link:  Why are World Cup workers dying in Qatar?

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