Venture Explains: Qatar’s Winter World Cup

No sooner have we recovered from the excitement of this summer’s World Cup in Russia, than FIFA President Gianni Infantino has gone and confirmed dates for the tournament being held in Qatar in 2022, announcing it will be played from November 21 to December 18. It will be the first winter World Cup to be held in the Northern Hemisphere.

Isn’t the World Cup usually held in summer?

Yes, but it has been switched to winter because temperatures regularly rise about 40 degree in Qatar during the summer.

Is everyone happy about this?

Not quite. It’s not quite clear just yet how it will impact the club seasons throughout the world, but Europe and South America, at least, are expected to split their season up, and domestic leagues could begin a little earlier as a result. In recent months, Infantino has also angered some European clubs with his hints to add 16 more teams to the 2022 tournament, a plan likely to make Qatar share hosting duties with other Gulf countries because it’s building only eight stadiums.

So how prepared is Qatar to host one of the world’s premier sporting events?

In the year since Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates and their allies, including Egypt, froze relations with Qatar—accusing it of supporting terrorism and being too close to Iran—World Cup organizers have proved resilient. The embargo, in place since June 2017, cut off the supply of construction materials from Saudi Arabia and the UAE but they were swiftly replaced by imports from Malaysia and China. By the end of this year, three of the eight stadiums earmarked for 2022 will be completed. Qatar’s massive weekly budget of $500 million on World Cup infrastructure has been used to build new roads, hotels, neighborhoods, and even towns—its $36 billion metro system is on track to open next year.