With the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022 now getting into full swing after years of preparations and months of building hype, we thought we’d take a closer look at this unique and out-of-the-ordinary tournament. With numerous historic firsts and almost unbelievable facts about the tournament, we decided to lay out 8 things you probably didn’t know about the Qatar World Cup.
Qatar Spent 16 Times More on the World Cup Than the Previous Host Russia
After being announced as the 2022 World Cup hosts all the way back in 2010, Reuters has calculated that the tiny Gulf nation has spent over 229 billion US dollars on infrastructure alone to host the games. With a population of only 2.9 million, this amounts to over 75,000 US dollars per person and 650,000 US dollars per family. Compared to the previous host Russia, the Qatari world cup is set to cost 16 times as much. This huge amount of money is larger than many countries’ GDPs and has been used not just to create new stadiums, hotels, metros, and roads, but even entire cities to accommodate fans at the 2022 World Cup.
FIFA Claims 2 Million Fans Will Descend on the Tiny Gulf Nation of 2.9 Million
FIFA President Gianni Infantino announced in a news conference “We will have two million people coming from all over the world and showing the world that humanity can live in peace together.” If we are to believe Infantino’s claim that two million people will visit Qatar for the 2022 World Cup, it would amount to the total amount of people in the country being increased by an incredible 65%. The fact that such a small country is hosting a large tournament has understandably been a cause of concern since Qatar was awarded hosting rights, and has led to Qatar embarking on one of the world’s largest building projects to accommodate a total population increased by maybe 65% almost overnight.
The Official World Cup Match Ball Was Made in Egypt for the First Time
The sleek and high-tech new official match ball for the Qatar World Cup was, for the first time, made in Egypt, and for that matter the entire Arab world. The new ball called Al Rihla, which translates to the journey, is slated as one of the world’s most advanced footballs with a particular design and use of materials to promote speed and handling. The advanced ball used in the game is the first to be made in the Arab world and follows Adidas’ opening of a football factory in Egypt’s 6th October City in 2019.
Qatar Will be the First World Cup to have Female Referees
With the world of football, after a very long period of hesitation and reluctance, finally embracing women’s football, women’s participation in the sport at all levels has rocketed in recent years. With a lot of money now going into women’s tournaments and women’s leagues, there has been a growing and excited fan base for women’s football. However, female referees have also started to become a normal fixture in the last few years after making their first appearance at AFCON, UEFA, and other big league games. FIFA has taken a bold step to solidify female referees as normal by appointing six women from different federations across the world to referee at the world’s most important sporting event.
First World Cup to be Hosted in the Arab World
Qatar hosting the FIFA World Cup in 2022 marks the first time the world’s most famous and widely watched sporting event is hosted by an Arab country. While several Arab countries have made numerous bids throughout the years to host the tournament, it was in 2010 that Qatar was awarded hosting rights, marking a historic first. The Qatar World Cup also marks the second Asian world cup, after Japan and South Korea jointly hosted the event in 2002. FIFA for many years has come under pressure for the lack of tournaments outside of Europe and South America. With only world cups in Brazil, Japan and South Korea, USA, and Mexico breaking the trend, FIFA announced its intent to host more world cups in Africa, the Middle East, and across Asia. With the Arab world being one of the world’s most football-crazy regions, it’s about time that the region hosts a world cup.
Qatar is the First Host Nation to Have Never Qualified for the Tournament
On the opening night of the tournament, Qatar also made history, but not in the way they wanted, by becoming the first host nation to lose the opening match with 2–0 defeat to Ecuador. However, this comes as no surprise considering that Qatar is the first ever country to host the FIFA World Cup without ever having qualified for the tournament before. Since being awarded hosting rights twelve years ago, however, Qatar has invested a huge amount of money into football academies and nurturing promising talent to create a team worthy of the tournament. They even won the Asian Cup in 2019 and have outdone all expectations.
First World Cup to be Held in November
In another historic first, the FIFA World Cup is not taking place in the northern hemisphere’s summer months, but instead in November. After the tournament was awarded to Qatar, FIFA came under pressure to move the tournament to cooler months to avoid the sweltering Gulf summers that some argued could be dangerous when hosting so many visiting fans. Even though the tournament was moved to the cooler months of November, there was still a lot of concern that with tens of thousands of spectators the stadiums would be too hot. To get around this, Qatar took the decision to build air-conditioned stadiums.
The Qatar World Cup May be the Last Time We See Messi and Ronaldo in a World Cup
No two names in the last fifteen have been as dominant in the world of football as Messi and Ronaldo. However, with Messi now at the age of 35 and Ronaldo now 37, the Qatar World Cup may be the last time we can see these two living legends play at a world cup. While Portugal may not be in great shape to be contenders for the cup, Messi’s Argentina is the second favorite to win the cup, following only Brazil. If we do see Messi lead his country to victory, the Qatar World Cup may mark the most historic end to the career of arguably the best football player to have ever been born.