Qatar is preparing to host the next two World Cups while tensions continue to rise in the region.
Rabat – Qatar will host the next two club world cups this December and December 2020, which will serve as test events for the 2022 FIFA World Cup.
These tournaments will consist of only seven competing teams compared to the 32 teams attending in 2022. Despite its smaller size, the competition provides a chance for Qatar to test its facilities.
Qatar’s 2022 preparations are taking place amid the Gulf crisis in which four of the nation’s neighbors – the UAE, Bahrain, Egypt, and Saudi Arabia – have imposed an economic and diplomatic boycott since June 2017 due to Qatar’s alleged support of terrorist organizations.
The nation has assured the public that the land, air, and sea blockade has not hindered its tournament preparations – Qatar has already completed the construction of two of the eight planned stadiums for the World Cup, which is now only 3-and-a-half years away. Another is scheduled to be finished later this year.
Qatar won the bid in 2010, becoming the first country in the Middle East to host the tournament and has since been working to make adequate accommodations for the anticipated crowds while improving working conditions for those building the new infrastructure.
Qatar introduced a new bill in 2017 that granted minimum wage and legal protection for migrant workers who bear much of this work. The UN International Labor Organization has since dropped complaints against the nation.
Preparations include creating stadiums and catering to the needs of visitors, including designating spaces to buy and consume alcohol, which is traditionally not consumed in the country, and developing ways to keep players and fans cool in the desert heat.
Tournaments usually take place in June-July, but have been rescheduled for November-December due to the intense summer heat.
FIFA had considered expanding the 2022 tournament from 32 to 48 teams, which would require one of Qatar’s neighbors to co-host, but this was met with a variety of complications. The organization ultimately decided to postpone the expansion until 2026.
Human rights watchdogs urged FIFA not to grant neighboring countries with worse human rights abuses the privilege of hosting. This, combined with the current tense climate from the Gulf crisis and the general difficulty of neutral neighbors making sufficient accommodations so close to the event made increasing the tournament size unrealistic for 2022.