Vote for the 2022 Qatar stadium freak show

by admin

Tuesday, November 30th, 2010

I’m sure we’re all aware that in two days time 22 FIFA Executive Committee members will sit down around an oval table and elect the hosts of the 2018 FIFA World Cup. What we forget though is that immediately after the 2018 vote, the 2022 candidates will hear their fate too.

So, who should take up the baton for 2022? Australia, the US, South Korea and Japan are all in the running for the right to host the event, but most intriguingly Qatar is also staking a claim.

An instant reaction to the idea of Qatar hosting a World Cup is justifiably to laugh. The cons are concerning: small country, undeveloped football culture, dangerously hot summer climate, legacy issues.

All these problems can be addressed by the other bidders.

Certainly Japan and Korea showed their successful legacy from the 2002 World Cup, with both J and K Leagues booming in popularity. Major League Soccer in the US is growing and – although still filled with scepticism – ‘soccer’ is becoming a more accepted pastime, while the Australians are naturally faultless on the sporting front (just ask an Australian if you don’t believe me).

So what can Qatar offer to challenge these rivals: a stadium freak show. With a bottomless oil-lined wallet and the desire to prove to the Western world just how wealthy the state is; Qatar has proposed eight new stadiums and lavish upgrades to current ones.

And they all look spectacular.

Take the Al-Ryyan Stadium, which will support a ‘media membrane’ on the outside walls to screen matches to those not in the 44,000 seater stadium. Or maybe the new Doah Port Stadium takes your fancy; built on a mini peninsula out into the Arabian Sea, you can arrive by water taxi or ferry.

Worried about legacy? Most of the stadiums will be downsized, changed into athletics fields, and even – in the case of Sports City Stadium – turned into a concert venue.

The problem of the weather has also been accounted for. Qatar will provide a bank of cool air to sit inside each stadium and keep players out of the hazardous +45ºc. All this energy will be generated by solar panels, soaking up the Gulf’s most ardent energy provider, the Sun.

While the US has its 70,000 seater stadiums, and Korea has the semi religious passion of the supporters, Qatar will provide the World Cup with something it has never seen before: a lavish stadium freak show.

The 2008 Beijing Olympics – which some argue may have cost up to $40 billion – has been described as the best Olympic Games ever. If Qatar is willing to spend ludicrous amounts on hosting the World Cup in 2022, what is to reason that it won’t equal the praise Beijing received?

Let the fun times commence. If Sep Blatter and his band of brothers do vote in favour of Qatar on Thursday, the world will truly get to see the wonder of a gross misspent fortune.

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