When the FIFA ExCo board voted to hold the 2022 World Cup in Qatar, they were well aware of the environmental obstacles they would face. With summer temperatures reaching 50°C (122°F), the Arabian peninsula is hardly a venue suitable to house the largest gathering event in the world. Even if Qatar’s wealthy government is able to air condition the stadiums, the extreme heat would surely have a negative impact on the average fan experience.
Even UEFA president Michel Platini, who voted for Qatar, has since admitted that it would be “awful” to have play in the extreme conditions. In response to criticisms, the FIFA executive committee has decided to vote on whether the World Cup should be moved from its usual summer scheduling to avoid the scorching temperatures. Sepp Blatter, the FIFA president, has made it clear he expects the date to be moved. Said Blatter, “I would be very much surprised, more than surprised, if the ExCo will not accept the principle you cannot play in summer in Qatar.”
If the tournament date is to be moved, January and February of 2022 won’t be options due to the Winter Olympics, leaving only November and December. However, the idea of moving the World Cup to the winter at all has caused even further uproar, as the change would see the tournament take place during regular season play for many leagues around the world.
The English Premier League has spoken out against a winter World Cup, claiming that clubs would lose out financially from the interruption in regards to television broadcast contracts. FIFA spokesmen have been adamant in their commitment to Qatar, stating that they have nine years until 2022 and that they have plenty of time to solve the issues at hand.
Even if they do manage to create a comfortable environment for players and fans in Qatar, there is another major issue with allowing the Middle Eastern country to host the World Cup. Conditions for local workers in Qatar have been reported by the largest trade union confederation on the planet, ITUC, representing 175 million workers in 155 countries, as inhumane.
Last April, the union formally asked FIFA to strip Qatar of the World Cup if it didn’t commit itself to reforming and enforcing its labor laws. The ITUC’s general secretary, Sharan Burrow, expressed the union’s sentiments at UEFA’s conference last May. Said Burrow, “More workers will die building World Cup infrastructure than players will take to the football pitch unless steps are taken to reform working conditions in Qatar.”
No matter how FIFA decide to address the situation, it seems as though there is no resolution that will satisfy all parties. Qatar would surely be disappointed and angered if they were to lose out on this historic opportunity for their country. However, if they are unable to sort out building an infrastructure that can support fans from all over the world, in a human and responsible way, then theynot worthy of hosting a World Cup. The World Cup is an event meant to showcase the best the world has to offer. Although every country should be allowed the opportunity to host such a prestigious event, that country needs to perform its role in a safe and accountable way.