Qatar’s Big Spending on 2022 World Cup Bid
October 14, 2011 by Richard
In December 2010, FIFA President Sepp Blatter had announced that Qatar would become the first Middle Eastern country to host the World Cup in 2022 as per vote of FIFA’s 22 member executive committee. For a nation of only 1.7 million people, this was a remarkable achievement beating the likes of developed sporting nations like the United States, Australia, Japan and South Korea. The Middle East is a major football playing region and has a huge fan following there. Banking on the sport’s growing following there; the tiny gulf emirate had centered its appeal to FIFA as “a bold gamble”.The subsequent awarding of the bid was seen as a triumph for Mohammed Bin Hammam, the Fifa executive member, and president of the Asia Football Confederation, who is also regarded as favorite to succeed Blatter. The US who have already hosted the 1994 World Cup, had bidded with the appeal to make FIFA chart further inroads into a country where the NFL, NBA and baseball still dominate the sports scene. As regards Qatar’s famously hot climate during the summers especially, the bid chief executive Hassan Al-Thawadi said “We know it would be a bold gamble and an exciting prospect but with no risk…Heat is not and will not be an issue.”
However recently there has been speculation about how much money Qatar has spent on its successful World Cup bid. In a recent interview to Newsnight, bid chief executive Hassan al Thawadi stubbornly refused to discuss the matter. Despite repeated queries, Thawadi withheld details of the bid’s budget though as former chief executive, he is overseeing preparations for the tournament that is to take place in his country 11 years from now. He argued perhaps justifiably that Qatar’s accounts should not be subjected to public scrutiny so as to avoid unnecessary media attention to his country’s vast spending power.
But al Thawadi has admitted that Qatar’s bid budget was much more than the $43 million and that he has reportedly spent $27million alone on a mini prototype Al Sadd stadium with the air-cooling technology. He said Qatari officials were angry at having their emails leaked by Jack Warner (suspended vice President of FIFA) and threatened legal action against Jerome Valcke, the general secretary of FIFA if he did not clarify his remarks. “There were a lot of people who did not take our bid seriously, whether it was inside Fifa or outside Fifa,” he said. With the “whistleblower” of the scandal, Phaedra Almajid (former international media officer for Qatar 2022) having retracted her corruption allegations against members of the Fifa’s executive committee (for having accepted bribes from the Qataris for the vote), the major storm against Qatar’s cherished 2022 bid has gone quiet for now. No wonder that Al Thawadi carefully distanced himself and the bid from banned Qatari rep in the FIFA Committee Mohammed Bin Hammam, said he wasnt the man behind his nation’s success story.
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