2022 World Cup: Qatar is spending $500m a week

And it plans to continue spending that much for the next three to four years.

February 20, 2017

We love football and although love is blinding sometimes, we’ve thankfully never been too in love to see how bad and corrupt the sport is off the field. Most of that has to do with the sport’s “non-profit” governing body, FIFA.

While the World Cup in Russia is just a year away, you can understand why we’d be more excited for the 2022 World Cup in Qatar. It’s still a little surreal to believe that all the best players in the world will be in the Middle East and we’ll be no more than an hour-long flight away from watching all the action live.

Having said that, we’re not unaware of the dangers a FIFA World Cup brings. We’ll let the unexpectedly stylish and two-time Emmy Award-winning comedian-cum-journalist John Oliver articulate:

Why does all of that matter? Well earlier this month, Qatar’s finance minister, Ali Shareef Al-Emadi, said that the country was spending almost $500m every week on major infrastructure projects for football’s biggest tournament. 

“We are spending close to $500 million per week on capital projects,” he told journalists. “And this will carry on for the next three to four years to achieve our goal and objective of really getting the country ready for 2022.”

Despite the heavy spending, Emadi said that the expenditure wouldn’t make Qatar’s 2022 bid the most expensive World Cup ever.  “We are putting $200bn in terms of infrastructure... If you look at stand alone, the World Cup, no it is not.”

Here’s what’s troubling about that spending spree the gulf country has embarked upon: Brazil, hosts of the 2014 FIFA World Cup, spent over $11 billion on the tournament while Russia is on course to blow up more than $10 billion for next year’s event. What’s even more worrying is that many former hosts have found themselves in debt following the prestigious tournament.

In fact, here’s what happened to Brazil’s stadiums:

That is not a trajectory Qatar would like to follow. The omens aren’t great either, last year the Arab peninsula ran an estimated budget deficit of more than $12bn, its first in 15 years. While Emadi has gone on record to say that Qatar is “very comfortable” right now, they may want to proceed with caution. The last thing it needs is a deficit to hinder its world sporting domination plans.