At this point in time, the World Cup is already in full swing, and a number of upsets have fans excitedly waiting for the latest updates from Qatar.
But more than the surprising results from the first several matches, what has intrigued the world about this global sporting event is how much the Qatar government and FIFA itself are spending to hold it.
Expenditures by the Numbers and Then Some
In the twelve years that have passed since the country was initially chosen as a host nation for the World Cup back in 2010, Qatar has already spent around $220 billion – approximately fifteen times the amount spent by Russia for its hosting stint back in 2018.
Back in 2017, the country’s finance minister claimed that the government was spending close to $500 million weekly on the infrastructure necessary for the event: a network of access roads, hotels to suit vastly differing budgets, and even airport upgrades to ensure that Qatar was putting its best foot forward for the world’s biggest sporting extravaganza.
Qatar’s overall spending also includes the $277 million talent fee for global football legend David Beckham’s stint as event ambassador – a sum to be paid out within a ten-year period.
FIFA itself, on the other hand, has spent only $1.7 billion in all. The said amount covers a number of expenditures, including prize money for the victors, operational expenses worth $322 million and global broadcasting operations in the sum of $247 million.
What Price Grandeur?
However, the human cost of holding the World Cup is something that is not sitting well with FIFA and football supporters the world over.
In recent weeks, the Qatari government came under fire for the deaths of thousands of workers who were enslaved under harrowing physical and environmental conditions to get everything done in time for the games.
Likewise, human rights advocates pointed out that those who died while working – and even those who stayed behind – were not properly compensated for their labor, nor were they treated humanely.
Also, the country’s moralistic stance against alcohol and rampant homophobia has earned the ire of numerous commercial sponsors whose contracts with FIFA have been compromised by harsh regulations.
Even now that the games are underway, many are questioning the selection of Qatar and its suitability as a venue for the event. Indeed, the ongoing debacle regarding the human cost of development recently prompted former FIFA president Sepp Blatter to refer to the country’s hosting stint as a bad choice on the part of organization commissioners.