The Football World Cup, which starts this Sunday, November 20, in Qatar, is the most expensive in the history of the FIFA competition, being valued at around USD 220 billion, 18 times more than the previous edition, held in Russian Federation, in 2018.
In Russia in 2018 the World Cup cost 12 billion USD, in Brazil in 2014 about 15 billion USD, and now in Qatar it reaches 220 billion USD. Money is not a problem, for the Qatari government it is a huge soft power action, without worrying about the financial losses of the competition, writes Expansão, in its 701th edition.
The Qatar World Cup will cost around USD 220 billion, remembering that at the time the competition was awarded 12 years ago, in 2010, it was estimated that it would be necessary to invest around USD 65 billion to guarantee its realization. Confirmation that the investment more than tripled came this week through the voice of Hassan Al Thawadi, head of the Qatar organizing committee for this World Cup, confirming that the infrastructure costs since the country received for the tournament will exceed 200 billion dollars, following of the estimate of the American sports finance consulting company Front Office Sports, which advanced with this value.
To get an idea of the dimension, the most expensive World Cup in history had been in Brazil in 2014, an estimated cost of 15 billion USD, which means that this one in Qatar costs 15 times more. This investment, which, remember, does not have a concrete official justification specifying exactly how much money went into each of the infrastructures, is justified by the country’s government as part of a broader public investment project, Qatar National Vision 2030, which proposes change the image of the territory.
According to Kieran Maguire, an expert in football finance at the University of Liverpool, speaking to DW, “the World Cup acted as an accelerator for the Qatari government to want to address issues of the country’s infrastructure”. It is a huge “gamble on the soft power” which will actually end up being deficit in trade terms, something that worries the Doha government little.
“International relations are the main motivation for hosting the tournament, and it is also an action of soft power, as a defense and security strategy. Money is clearly not an issue for Qatar. The country can comfortably host a World Cup and is willing to absorb the losses involved. In many ways, the 2022 Worlds is a financial anomaly.”, he added.
The major investments made in this period took place outside the sports area – a new underground metro network in Doha, inaugurated in 2019, with 37 stations and an extension of more than 70 kilometers. Construction of the new international airport in Doha was completed, which was already under way, and the old airport was reopened to increase air travel capacity during the World Cup. The renovation of the sewage system, in order to absorb the impact of the huge additional influx of people during the World Cup, is another major project. It is one of the last to be completed, as shown by some reports that show the confusion that still persists in some areas of Doha.
The country is also building an entire city from scratch, on the site where the final stadium was built. It’s called Lusail City, located 16 kilometers from the center of Doha and aims to have a capacity for 200,000 inhabitants, with a series of luxury facilities ranging from hotels to golf courses, marinas and amusement parks. It joins another mega-construction in Qatar, already operational but still in the process of expansion, the artificial island The Pearl.
New roads with more than three lanes connecting the main cities, more than 100 new hotels and resorts, and modern public cooling systems in the city of Doha and Al Rayyan municipality were also built from scratch. Stadiums accounted for only 5% of total costs, a value that did not exceed USD 11 billion.