FIFA has chosen the tiny desert country of Qatar to host the 2022 World Cup of soccer. Qatar beat out the United States, South Korea, Japan, and Australia for this honour. Here are some facts about this surprising choice, thanks to Wikipedia.
- The Qatari soccer team is ranked 113th in the world. They have never even qualified for the World Cup before. Neither has Canada, and we’re ranked 28 spots higher than Qatar. Correction: Canada did qualify for the World Cup in 1986. They finished 0-3 and didn’t score a single goal. Thanks Ryan!
- The average high in July is 115°F or 46°C. That’s really freakin’ hot. But it’s a desert, so it’s a dry heat, right? Wrong! Qatar is bordered on three sides by the Persian Gulf, so it’s really freakin’ hot and humid. Perfect weather for playing soccer! Maybe the Qatari team does stand a good chance in 2022 because all the players from the other countries will be dropping like flies from heat exhaustion and dehydration.
- There are only three stadia in Qatar that are even close to big enough to host this event. They plan on adding 18,000-23,000 seats to each one, and building another nine stadia, each of which will hold at least 43,000 people. They’ve managed to get by with three stadia up to now, so what the hell are they going to do with twelve of them after 2022?
- The entire population of Qatar is about 1.7 million. Attendance at the 2010 World Cup in South Africa was double that. There are four cities and thirty five metropolitan areas in the United States (1 and 4 respectively in Canada) bigger than that. South Africa has a population of just under 50 million.
If you’re still not sure why FIFA chose Qatar, point number 5 should clear it up:
- 70% of all government revenues come from oil and gas. Qatar has 14% of the world’s total reserves of natural gas. This is a very small and sparsely populated but extremely rich country.
Update: According to this article, after the World Cup, Qatar plans to dismantle the new stadia they are building and give them to poorer countries. I applaud this gesture.