The next FIFA World Cup will be held in the Arabic nation of Qatar. Incidentally, it will be the 22nd edition of the famous competition since its inception in 1930. This choice of a host nation is a rather interesting one on a number of levels. First of all, the last time the World Cup was held in Asia was back in 2002 when it was hosted by South Korea and Japan. Secondly, it is the very first time that the tournament will be held in an Arabic nation. Never before has the World Cup been held in a state where the majority of the population was Muslim. In addition to all these, it will be the last edition of the competition to have the customary 32 teams. After that, from the 2026 World Cup onward, all editions will have 48 teams. Lastly, the next edition will also make history because it will not be held during the customary months of May, June, or July. Instead, it was decided that it will be pushed all the way to begin in November and end in mid-December. To add to this change, it will run for a fewer number of days, 28, and not the usual 32 days.
Host Selection for the 2022 FIFA World Cup
Bids for the selection of the 2022 World Cup venue began in 2009 and eleven bids were made. However, Mexico withdrew while Indonesia’s bid was disallowed because regulations were not followed. After all the initial dust had settled, only five bids remained: Australia, Qatar, the United States, South Korea, and Japan. A 22-person FIFA Executive Committee voted, amid claims of corruption, in favor of Qatar. In the fourth and final round of the voting, 14 votes went to Qatar, the US got 8, while the rest had already been eliminated. Australia was eliminated after the first round, Japan after the second round, and South Korea after the third round of voting.
The claims of bribery and corruption in the selection committee led to its disbandment after the vote and it is now being investigated. Most people deemed Qatar as a risky host especially considering the instability and hostility it was facing from neighbor countries. Despite all this, this selection allowed Qatar to dethrone Switzerland as the smallest state to have ever hosted the FIFA World Cup.
Cities and Stadiums
As of April 2017, Qatar is expected to have 8 stadiums to host the tournament. The Khalifa International Stadium, Qatar Foundation Stadium, Ras Abu Aboud Stadium, and Al Thumama Stadium are located in the capital city of Doha with capacities of 40,000 each. The other four stadiums include the Al-Bayt Stadium in Al Khor with a capacity of 60,000, the Ahmed bin Ali Stadium in Al Rayyan with an expanded capacity of 40,000, the Al Wakrah Stadium in Al Wakrah with a capacity of 40,000, and the Lusail Iconic Stadium in Lusail with a capacity of 86,250.
Date Change from Mid-year to November
Qatar is located in the Middle East, a region that is known for its harsh and unforgiving climate, especially during the months of June and July. Owing to this climatic issue, a committee of experts deemed it necessary that the tournament be held in November when the conditions would be more forgiving for the athletes. In addition to the climate, there will also be a clash with the 2022 Winter Olympics which will be held in February. The tournament would also clash with the holy month of Ramadan should it be held mid-year.
Obviously, hosting the tournament in November presents several challenges to football associations all over the world. Schedules would have to be rewritten in a way that will ensure leagues are finished by then. For Christians, Christmas festivities are also in December, something which will be disruptive as well. Suffice to say, the decision to award Qatar the hosting rights was one swirling in controversy for many around the world.