Yesterday FIFA announced that Qatar will host the 2022 World Cup, beating out countries like the USA and Australia in the bidding process.
Qatar, a country with 1.7 million people (smaller than the state of Connecticut), is a controversial choice and one that has sparked much debate in the last 24 hours. The consumption of alcohol in public in Qatar is illegal, although certain exceptions will be made during the World Cup.
It is also illegal to be gay in Qatar, (or rather to commit acts of homosexuality), an offense with a penalty of fines, imprisonment for up to five years or deportation, making the country an unfriendly choice for LGBT fans.
In addition, Qatar does not recognize Israel, although they have said that they will welcome Israel’s team into the country to compete if they qualify.
In the summer Qatar’s temperature is normally above 100 degrees so they have promised to air condition their stadiums using green technologies like solar thermal collectors and photovoltaic panels. They plan to put billions of dollars into building new stadiums and lodgings that can accommodate the large number of attendees.
Sheikh Mohammed bin Hamad Al-Thani, the head of the emirate’s bid team, said:
“Thank you for believing in change, for expanding the game and for giving Qatar a chance. You will be proud of us – and you will be proud of the Middle East. I promise you this.”
Qatar will be the first country in the Middle East to host the World Cup.