Qatar spent ~US$300 million (roughly 6.8 Twitters) on World Cup 2022, making it the most expensive FIFA contest ever.
But it all comes with a catch: That spending big will pay off in international clout.
Driving the news: Some 1.2 million footie fanatics are expected to head to Qatar for the Cup, which kicks off tomorrow with a match between the host nation and Ecuador.
- Fans can’t drink beers during games, but they can enjoy Qatar’s newly built infrastructure like stadiums, malls, roads, and even a subway.
Why it matters: World Cup Qatar is the biggest example we’ve ever seen of sports diplomacy, or sports-washing. That is, a country trying to boost its image on the world stage through the power of grown adults sweatily running around a field.
- Even if the event goes off without a hitch, the run-up was plagued with stories from the deaths of migrant labour workers to the persecution of LGBTQ+ people.
- Even how Qatar got the hosting gig has come into question as accusations of FIFA officials (who have a track record of corruption) accepting bribes came to light.
Zoom out: This is just one example of a broader push from Middle Eastern nations looking to change foreign perceptions and promote tourism, which has been pegged as a key priority to diversify their economies and lessen their dependency on oil.
Yes, but: Sporting event researchers told The Globe that the positive economic effects (on tourism) that come from hosting mega-tournaments like this are questionable, at best.