The Football Lawyer: What would the true cost of moving the 2022 World Cup to winter be?

John Blavo
qatar stadium 1024x768 The Football Lawyer: What would the true cost of moving the 2022 World Cup to winter be?

An artists impression of one of the proposed stadiums in Qatar

It’s still nine years until Qatar is due to host the Fifa World Cup, yet they might already be feeling the first painful beginnings of a financial migraine. Given the country’s brutally hot summer months, the case is being made with increasing force for a rescheduling of the tournament until winter.  If this were to happen, it would represent a legal, logistical and commercial headache, the likes of which would be almost unprecedented.

Let’s look at the planning and construction issues first.  Nine years sounds like a long time, but it’s not all that much when major changes, such as those proposed to Qatar’s infrastructure, are underway.  Many of the relevant contracts will already have been awarded, and several of their terms may have to be redrawn.

The same is true of the sponsors.  There may be particular lifestyle brands whose products are better advertised during the summer months, who would stand to lose a great deal if the World Cup were shifted to a cooler part of the year.  They may have a claim for their “legitimate expectations” – that is to say, for the profits that they would have made had the tournament been held in summer as first proposed. What’s more, these projected profits are, in many cases, readily quantifiable.

And that may not be all.  The schedules of major sporting tournaments are often planned in full two or three years in advance, and there will be other events – the African Nations Cup, the Uefa Champions League, the Olympics – who will have their timelines agreed so that there is as little clash as possible between their promotional campaigns and those of the World Cup. Whether any of these other events have a compensation claim against Fifa – a cost which they would then presumably pass on to Qatar – would depend on the “remoteness” test.  That is to say, whether they can link any losses directly to the World Cup being moved to winter.  If Fifa is to change the World Cup’s diary dates, then they had better do so pretty quickly.

Of course, it’s not that simple.  At the moment, Qatar have a choice of two worryingly large sets of expenses.  The first, as outlined above, is the cost of a winter World Cup.  The second, of course, is the cost of holding it in the summer as originally planned.  The problem here is that the playing conditions could be almost unbearable for footballers if the necessary air conditioning – which will cost unprecedented sums – is not installed. The insurance premiums that will be charged by the clubs and national football associations will reach eye-watering levels, to say nothing of the money that will be spent to ensure the health and safety of spectators.

All in all, it’s an extraordinarily complex web of problems, and it’s difficult to see which way Qatar will turn. If they decide to shift the whole show to, say, December, then they could face compensation payouts that would run into billions of pounds: and, even for a nation with the world’s highest GDP per capita, that’s still a weighty tab to pick up.  Who knows: given that the evening temperatures in Qatar are relatively mild, it might be that the teams end up playing their games, and ultimately the World Cup final itself, in the dead of night.  Given the unusual narrative that this tournament has taken, it might be that this unorthodox conclusion might just be the most fitting.

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  • King Mak

    This is a very good report, giving more insight into the complexity. Thank.

  • King Mak

    The next
    piece of suspicious conspiratorial element is the timing. Why this bidding and
    awarding had to be so unprecedentedly early? Not 8 years earlier but 12? Was
    someone (or were some people) wanting to give this not well structured country
    of 1.8 million population to have enough time to build up infrastructures for accommodating
    around 3 million people (South America’s figure)?

  • JonnnyA

    Solution 3. Declare the corrupt original decision void, let the other applications fight it out (USA and Australia) and draw up a set of minimum requirements for bidding countries (or joint bids) that factor in the size of the country(s) and the population.

    It disgusts me when I think of the backroom deals and backhanders that went on to make that bid successful.

  • dave_shepton

    It was I believe the first time that the decision to hold the next two World Cups had ever been made. Pretty easy to figure out just why they made that decision!!

  • nielsc

    And of course there’s a risk that Qatar doesn’t exists in it’s present form in 8 years time

  • Guest

    • 12 minutes ago• 0 0

    Flag as inappropriate
    Qatari summers are extremely hot, night and day. There is the humidity factor that makes 50 C feel like 60C. At night the temperatures go down to 30 – 35 C but the humidity makes it unbearable to walk or stand outdoors for periods longer than 10 minutes. If you do so, you will be covered with sweat.
    Besides the humidity, we get sand storms quite often in this period of the year. Many times the skies in Qatar in June –July are yellowish-grey and the air is not breathable.
    Maids and labor in Qatar (and all GCC Countries) make 150 to 200 US$/month. There are no laws to protect these workers from systematic abuses, not even a law to establish a minimum salary! Often these workers have to pay 1000+ US$ to obtain a working visa, just to find out that they have to work for almost a year to pay back that fee. Their passports are removed and their movements in the country are conditioned. Either they are just allowed to leave the house with their employers (no day off) or in case of the labors, on their day off, they are not allowed to go to shopping malls, the souk and Corniche (road by the sea). Qatar has a labor law that facilitates slavery and has climate conditions in the summer that are close to lunar atmosphere!
    Not to mention that the local culture is not compatible with the World Cup festivity culture! Also not to mention that Qatar only has one city with very poor infrastructures and congested traffic! When on earth the world cup was organized in one city only?
    The whole world knows it was a mistake to award this event to Qatar. If general public knew Qatar like I know (I live here) they would have been shocked with disbelieve of the obscene and irresponsible FIFA’s decision!

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