World Cup

Why is the 2022 World Cup being held in Qatar?

Jude Summerfield
FIFA's decision to award Qatar the 2022 World Cup has attracted intense criticism
FIFA's decision to award Qatar the 2022 World Cup has attracted intense criticism / Laurence Griffiths/GettyImages
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FIFA's decision in 2010 to award Qatar the 2022 World Cup has attracted criticism.

With the tournament now just months away, how did football's international governing body come to the decision to award its prize event to a country not renowned for any footballing prestige?

Here 90min takes a look at how Qatar was awarded the 2022 World Cup.


When is the World Cup in Qatar?

The 2022 World Cup will take place in Qatar and will be played from 21 November to 18 December. It is the first World Cup to be held in the Arab world and just the second to take place entirely in Asia, after the 2002 edition in South Korea and Japan.


2022 Qatar World Cup bidding process

FIFA's decision in 2010 to award Qatar the World Cup has been extremely controversial.

Qatar's football heritage is extremely minimal, and the country is more renowned for being one of the richest states in the world.

Then FIFA president Sepp Blatter revealed the committee had decided to take football "to new lands" in an attempt to "develop football".

It came as a shock to many that it was awarded the World Cup, despite rival bids coming from the United States, South Korea, Japan and Australia. Allegations of vote-buying were made, but an independent investigation commissioned by FIFA found no hard evidence of any such corruption.

While Qatar has denied allegations of it buying delegates' votes, a corruption investigation from French authorities is still ongoing. The US also accused three FIFA officials of receiving payments in 2020.


Have Qatar played in a World Cup before?

The Qatari football team has never previously qualified for a World Cup for either the men's or women's editions. having been awarded the right to host the 2022 tournament, Qatar became the first country since Italy in 1934 to play in a World Cup without qualifying for it.

Qatar have been regulars in the Asian Cup in recent years and won the 2019 edition in the United Arab Emirates, winning all seven of their games, scoring 19 goals and conceding just one.


Why is the World Cup being played in November?

The World Cup is typically played in June and July - peak months for summer in Europe - but it will be played in winter this year.

This is because average temperatures in Qatar in June and July are around 41C (106F) and can reach 50C (122F). That is too hot to be outside safely and certainly not cool enough for people to play 90 minutes of football.

The schedule means leagues around the world will take breaks to allow players to play in the competition. The Premier League, for example, will start a week earlier than usual and finish a week later. No matches will be played between 13 November and 26 December.


How has Qatar treated stadium workers?

Qatar has been building seven stadium for the World Cup finals. The need for a new airport, metro and roads have also seen 30,000 migrant labourers brought in to work on the building.

As of February 2021, more than 6,500 migrant workers from India, Pakistan, Nepal, Bangladesh and Sri Lanka have died in Qatar since the country won the right to host the World Cup back in 2010.

That works out as an average of 12 migrant worker deaths from those aforementioned countries each week.

The total death toll is actually higher, as figures have not included deaths from countries which send a large quantity of workers like the Philippines and Kenya.

The Qatari government has said these figures are an overestimation as they include foreigners who passed away after living and working there for many years.

This record has attracted criticism from organisations around the world. Human rights group Amnesty International accused Qatar of using forced labour in 2016, saying many workers had had to deal with poor living conditions, high recruitment fees, withheld wages and passport confiscations.

The Qatari government has introduced measures to attempt to protect migrant workers from working in poor conditions.

However, Human Rights Watch - a campaign group - said in a 2021 report that foreign workers were still being treated poorly. Wage deductions were still in place coupled with months of unpaid salaries.


Are football associations protesting the 2022 World Cup?

The Netherlands side have worn t-shirts with the phrase "Football supports change". Norway's stars used a similar shirt that stated “HUMAN RIGHTS” and “On and off the pitch”. Germany and Denmark have made similar protests due to Qatar's treatment of migrant workers and its horrendous human rights record.

Regarding the protests, a spokesperson for FIFA said: “With the very stringent health and safety measures on-site...the frequency of accidents on FIFA World Cup construction sites has been low when compared to other major construction projects around the world."

Qatar's stance as an anti-LGBTQ country - same-sex relationships are still illegal - is another area that has attracted criticism.

The country has been asked by groups supporting LGBTQ rights to make changes before the tournament starts - these include safety guarantees, right of entry and avoiding censorship. The country is still firm on being against public displays of affection.


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