Qatar will have the most 'compact' World Cup in history

Qatar will have the most 'compact' World Cup in history
The promise of the Organizing Committee of the 2022 World Cup is that all stadiums will be ready in 2020, two years before the ball rolls in Qatar (Photo: Organizing Committee Qatar/2022)
After the immensity of Brazil and Russia, which forced delegations, fans and journalists to travel thousands of kilometers, here comes the most compact Cup in history. The greatest distance between the eight stadiums that will host games in Qatar in 2022 (four in Doha and four in cities neighboring the capital) will be 55 kilometers (the shortest will be 4.5 km, a little more than the 4 km that separate the Pacaembu do Allianz Parque in São Paulo), and the organizers are proud to announce that for the first time fans will be able to watch more than one match on the same day.

Qatar, a very rich country thanks to oil and natural gas reserves, occupies an area of ​​just 11,500 square kilometers – the size of the city of Manaus and half of Sergipe, the smallest Brazilian state. It is a drop of water compared to Brazil's 8.5 million square kilometers and Russia's 17 million. The country has 2.5 million inhabitants and expects to receive more than one million tourists during the World Cup.

No selection will need to travel by plane from one city to another (all journeys will be by bus), and all will be able to occupy the same concentration from the first to the last of their stay in the country. In addition, the Training Centers will all have the same infrastructure and will be very similar. Two companies are in charge of building them, and guarantee that they will deliver them all before the end of 2019 (Fifa usually asks for three CTs per stadium, which in the case of Qatar is 24). They will have two fields, bleachers for 500 people (for training sessions open to the public), press room, parking, locker rooms, gymnastics rooms and facilities for the teams' medical department.

For comparison purposes, in Russia the Brazilian team covered 7,400 kilometers in the three games of the first phase alone (Egypt was the one that traveled the most, with 9,100 kilometers traveled). The least traveled was Colombia: 1,200 kilometers. At the World Cup in Brazil, the US team traveled more than 14,000 kilometers in the first phase (it was concentrated in São Paulo and played in Natal, Manaus and Recife).

“In Qatar, the players won't wear out with long trips and will be able to play better football”, said the head of the Organizing Committee, Nasser Al-Khater, a few days ago in Moscow.

Life will also be much easier for fans, who will be able to go to all stadiums by subway – whose works will be completed in 2020. It will be 300 km long, with 100 stations.

But there are not only advantages in a Cup played in such a dry area. The concentration of fans from 32 countries in Doha and neighboring cities is a concern for the organizers, even more after having seen the legion of Latinos (especially Brazilians, Argentines, Peruvians and Mexicans) that invaded Russia. “We will have to think carefully about the places where we will install the Fan Fests ( places where fans watch the games on big screens and find tents where souvenirs, drinks and food are sold ) to avoid large crowds, since there will be three or four games. per day in stadiums close to each other,” said Al-Khater.

Qatar will spend around US$10 billion on works in stadiums (initially there would be 12, but the number has been reduced to eight) and another US$200 billion on infrastructure. The icing on the cake of the megalomaniacal project that led to a tiny country being chosen to host the World Cup is the construction of the city of Lusail, in the middle of the desert and 25 km from Doha. There will be the stadium that will host the opening game and the final, with capacity for 86 thousand people, there will be 22 hotels, four artificial islands, parks, marinas and residences for a population of 250 thousand people.

For the first time in history, the Cup will not be played in June and July. Due to the high summer temperatures in the country (above 40 degrees in the middle of the year) the tournament will be held between November 21st and December 18th – a time when the average temperature varies between 25 and 30 degrees.


  • Name: Khalifa Stadium
  • Capacity: 46 thousand people
  • Name: Qatar Foundation Stadium
  • Capacity: 40 thousand people
  • Name: Ras Abu Aboud Stadium
  • Capacity: 40 thousand people
  • Name: Al Thumama Stadium
  • Capacity: 40 thousand people
  • LUSAIL (25 km from Doha)
  • Name: Lusail Iconic Stadium
  • Capacity: 86 thousand people
  • AL KHOR (50 km from Doha)
  • Name: Al Bayt Stadium
  • Capacity: 60 thousand people
  • AL RAYYAN (14 km from Doha)
  • Name: Al Rayyan Stadium
  • Capacity: 45 thousand people
  • AL WAKRAH (44 km from Doha)
  • Name: Al Wakrah Stadium
  • Capacity: 45 thousand people
To entertain tourists, around the stadiums there will be several shopping centers – and all with a wide variety of restaurants serving Western food.
A point that concerns FIFA and one of its sponsors (the American brewery Budweiser) is that in Qatar it is forbidden to drink in public – alcoholic beverages are only sold in hotels, and at exorbitant prices. The Organizing Committee guarantees that during the Cup the law will be made more flexible and it will be possible to buy drinks in other places. Another law that bothers FIFA is the one that determines that homosexuality is illegal in the country.

This will be Lusail, the city that is being built in the desert and will have the main stadium for the 2022 World Cup in Qatar (Photo: Organizing Committee)


There are shadows over Qatar since 2010, when the country won the competition to host the competition, defeating opponents such as Australia, Japan and the United States, even though it received the worst evaluation score from the FIFA commission that visited the candidate countries – at that time there was only one stadium in the country, the Khalifa.

There are many complaints that there was vote buying (one of the beneficiaries would have been the Brazilian Ricardo Teixeira, who at the time was president of the CBF), and even that  the scheme involved the governments of France and Thailand – benefited by trade agreements with Qatar.
Every now and then, pressures arise for FIFA to annul the election result and change the venue for the 2022 World Cup, but the organization has remained firm in its intention to keep everything as it is – perhaps influenced by the fact that it  received a “bonus” of 100 million dollars from the Al Jazeera TV network for Qatar's victory.

The country is also accused by human rights organizations of subjecting workers working on the many works in progress to deplorable working conditions, with very low wages, exhausting working hours, little rest time and precarious accommodation, with many people cramming into little sleeping space.
As if all this were not enough, there is still  tension with neighbors in the Persian Gulf  such as Saudi Arabia, Bahrain and the United Arab Emirates – who accuse Qatar of financing terrorist organizations.
In October, Fifa will have to decide whether the 2022 World Cup will have 32 teams as planned – and as stated in the contract signed with the Organizing Committee of the World Cup – or 48, which would mean anticipating the increase that will occur from the next edition, which will be organized jointly by the United States, Canada and Mexico.

Qatar wants to maintain the number of participants, and knows that if there are 48 teams it is very likely that some games will be transferred to other countries in the region – with which it does not agree. But as more teams in the tournament means more money for FIFA, change is possible.

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