COVID-19 and labor practices in Qatar are hurting its chances of hosting the men’s World Cup event in 2022 and talks of bribery behind the nomination to host have resurfaced.
British parliamentarians have previously urged FIFA to move the 2022 World Cup from Qatar.
Britain, a leading contender for relocation, would need to add to the cost of hosting nearly $100 million, with the expenses including an upgrade of facilities.
The cost of building FIFA facilities for Qatar, according to a FOX News report, is near $200 billion, way over other countries’ previous efforts.
COVID-19 and calls for event relocation
The demands to relocate the 2022 Men’s FIFA World Cup tournament from Qatar to another country are being reignited amid a report obtained exclusively by Fox News that casts doubts on the integrity of the Gulf state’s reporting of COVID-19 cases.
“An internal memo… conducted by a leading construction company in Qatar working on FIFA World Cup projects raised concerns that many of its laborers who were infected, died, but were not reported as COVID deaths,” the London-based Cornerstone Global Associates wrote in its report.
The 10-page document titled “COVID-19: Will FIFA World Cup 2022 go ahead in Qatar?” notes that “by the middle of August 2020, Qatar has suffered the world’s highest coronavirus infection rate in the world per head of population.”
Cornerstone said, “Qatar claims only 201 deaths from Coronavirus, suggesting a mortality rate of 0.17%… a mortality rate grossly under-estimated.”
According to Johns Hopkins University, Qatar has suffered at least 216 total deaths and 126,339 total cases.
Questionable labor practices
A 2019 Amnesty International report titled “All Work, No Pay: The struggle of Qatar’s migrant workers for justice” details the plight of thousands of workers being exploited by Qatar.
The human rights organization wrote that “many migrant workers face low pay, harsh working conditions and restrictions on their movement.”
Qatar, according to the Amnesty report, pledged to improve the protection of migrant workers with the aid of the International Labor Organization.
Thayssa Plum, a FIFA spokesperson, told Fox News in a statement that it was not made aware of the report from Cornerstone.
“FIFA is regularly updated on the situation with respect to FIFA World Cup workers and has been closely following the efforts put in place to contain the virus among its workers since the beginning of the pandemic,” Plum said and continued: “FIFA fully trusts the regular updates received by its team in Zurich and the Q22 team in Qatar, and is pleased to confirm the situation is currently under control.”
Qatar was awarded the World Cup in 2010. By 2013, more than 1,200 migrant laborers had already died due to working conditions, according to the International Trade Union Confederation. It estimated that by the time the tournament would kick off, that number would reach 4,000 if nothing changed.
The 2014 World Cup in Brazil claimed just 10 lives in construction accidents. The 2010 World Cup in South Africa took only one life.
Was the 2020 World Cup bought?
Qatar has faced allegations that it bribed FIFA officials to secure the World Cup.
In April 2020, the US Department of Justice issued an indictment, alleging that 3 South American members of FIFA’s 2010 executive committee accepted bribes to vote for Qatar to host the 2020 event.
Yahoo Finance said there was overwhelming evidence of the way Qatar gamed the bid, beating out the US in the final round through a coordinated bribery scheme. More than half of the 22 members of FIFA’s since-disbanded executive committee who voted then have been accused or indicted for taking bribes related to the 2022 World Cup vote.
FIFA expects to earn $6.56 billion in a four-year financial cycle to the 2022 World Cup in Qatar, despite a drop in ticket and corporate hospitality sales.
More than half of FIFA’s revenue will come from broadcasting rights, “86% of which is already contracted.”
FIFA expects to end the 2022 World Cup with reserves of $1.9 bn.
Stadium construction update
There are six venues to be completed: Al-Bayt, Al-Rayyan, and Education City Stadium, which are close to final completion and to being inaugurated, while at Al-Thumama, Ras Abu Aboud and Lusail work is progressing. Lusail, the largest of the venues for the 2022 World Cup, with room for 80,000 fans, will be the last ground to be inaugurated.
Sporting events have made a return across the globe, but to empty stadiums. Qatar, however, is optimistic that the 2022 FIFA World Cup will mark a return to normalcy, at least as far as spectator numbers in stadiums are concerned.
“We are going to bring people towards celebrating, what I believe, will be the first global event at the tail end of the pandemic,” said Hassan al Thawadi, secretary-general and chairman of the 2022 World Cup.
“We are hopeful of achieving similar numbers in attendance as that of the pre-COVID time. We are striving to make a balanced and affordable tournament in such a manner that the prices are affordable for fans and will let vendors and airlines sustain [themselves],” he added.