The 2022 World Cup got underway yesterday as hosts Qatar lost to Ecuador in the opening game. Having reportedly spent $220bn on the tournament, Qatar's focus for the competition may not strictly be based on soccer results.
What’s the score?
FIFA’s decision to elect Qatar as the host nation led to allegations of corruption back in 2010 and criticism and controversy have hardly ceased since. With Qatar’s human rights record and its maltreatment of migrant workers and the LGBT community, many have accused the state of sportswashing; attempting to tidy their reputation via the World Cup. It’s been an expensive clean-up effort if that’s the case.
Qatar has gone all out, basically building a city to host the final and outspending every nation that’s held the tournament before them. All told, the state has reportedly shelled out a staggering $220bn to prepare for kickoff, though Bloomberg estimated that the true cost could be as high as $300bn. The US, by comparison, spent just $500m when they hosted back in 1994.
Even if we were to adjust for inflation, the American tally would be a drop in the ocean compared to the Qatar figures — which become even more mind-boggling when compared to the host's relatively-small $180bn GDP figure.