The 2022 FIFA World Cup is scheduled to be the 22nd edition of the FIFA World Cup, the quadrennial international men’s association football championship contested by the national teams of the member associations of FIFA. It is scheduled to take place in Qatar in 2022. This will be the first World Cup ever to be held in the Arab world and the first in a Muslim-majority country. This will be the second World Cup held entirely in Asia after the 2002 tournament in South Korea and Japan. In addition, the tournament will be the last to involve 32 teams, with an increase to 48 teams scheduled for the 2026 tournament in North America. The reigning World Cup champions are France.
This will also mark the first World Cup not to be held in May, June, or July; the tournament is instead scheduled for late November until mid-December. It is to be played in a reduced timeframe of around 28 days, with the final being held on 18 December 2022, which is also Qatar National Day.
Accusations of corruption have been made relating to how Qatar won the right to host the event. A FIFA internal investigation and report cleared Qatar of any wrongdoing, but the chief investigator Michael J. Garcia has since described FIFA’s report on his inquiry as “materially incomplete and erroneous”. On 27 May 2015, Swiss federal prosecutors opened an investigation into corruption and money laundering related to the awarding of the 2018 and 2022 World Cups. On 6 August 2018, former FIFA president Sepp Blatter claimed that Qatar had used “black ops”, suggesting that the bid committee had cheated to win the hosting rights.
Additionally, Qatar has faced strong criticism due to the treatment of foreign workers involved in preparation for the World Cup, with Amnesty International referring to “forced labour” and stating that workers have been suffering human rights abuses, despite worker welfare standards being drafted in 2014.
The bidding procedure to host the 2018 and 2022 FIFA World Cups began in January 2009, and national associations had until 2 February 2009 to register their interest. Initially, eleven bids were made for the 2018 FIFA World Cup, but Mexico later withdrew from proceedings, and Indonesia’s bid was rejected by FIFA in February 2010 after the Indonesian Football Association failed to submit a letter of Indonesian government guarantee to support the bid. Indonesian officials had not ruled out a bid for the 2026 FIFA World Cup, until Qatar took the 2022 cup. During the bidding process, all non-UEFA nations gradually withdrew their 2018 bids, thus guaranteeing that a UEFA nation would host the 2018 cup and thereby making UEFA nations ineligible for the 2022 bid.
In the end, there were five bids for the 2022 FIFA World Cup: Australia, Japan, Qatar, South Korea and the United States.
The twenty-two member FIFA Executive Committee convened in Zurich on 2 December 2010 to vote to select the hosts of both tournaments. Two FIFA executive committee members were suspended before the vote in relation to allegations of corruption regarding their votes. The decision to host the 2022 World Cup in Qatar, which was graded as having “high operational risk”, generated criticism from media commentators. It has been criticised as many to be part of the FIFA corruption scandals.
The voting patterns were as follows:
There have been allegations of bribery and corruption in the selection process involving members of FIFA’s executive committee. These allegations are being investigated by FIFA (see § Bidding corruption allegations, below).
Qatar is the smallest nation by area ever to have been awarded a FIFA World Cup – the next smallest by area is Switzerland, host of the 1954 FIFA World Cup, which is more than three times as large as Qatar and only needed to host 16 teams instead of the current 32.
On 12 April 2018, CONMEBOL requested that FIFA expand the 2022 FIFA World Cup from 32 to 48 teams, four years before the 2026 FIFA World Cup as initially planned. FIFA President Gianni Infantino expressed willingness to consider the request. However, the FIFA congress rejected the request shortly before the beginning of the 2018 FIFA World Cup. Infantino said the global football governing body would not discuss the possibility of having a 48-team World Cup, and that they would first discuss the matter with the host country.
In March 2019, a “FIFA feasibility study” concluded that it was possible to expand the tournament to 48 teams, albeit with the assistance of “one or more” neighbouring countries and “two to four additional venues.” FIFA also said that “while it cannot rule out legal action from losing bidders by changing the format [of the tournament], the study said it ‘concluded that the risk was low.'” FIFA and Qatar would have explored possible joint proposals to submit to the FIFA Council and the FIFA Congress in June 2019. Had a joint proposal been submitted, FIFA’s member associations would have voted on the final decision at the 69th FIFA Congress in Paris, France by 5 June 2019. However, on 22 May 2019, FIFA announced it will not expand the tournament.
FIFA’s six continental confederations organise their own qualifying competitions. All FIFA member associations, of which there are currently 211, are eligible to enter qualification. Qatar, as hosts, qualified automatically for the tournament. However, Qatar is obliged by the AFC to participate in the Asian qualifying stage as the first two rounds also act as qualification for the 2023 AFC Asian Cup. If the Qataris reach the final stage as winners in their group or as one of the four best runners-up, the fifth-best team will advance instead. The reigning World Cup champions France will also go through qualifying stages as normal.
The allocation of slots for each confederation was discussed by the FIFA Executive Committee on 30 May 2015 in Zurich after the FIFA Congress. The committee decided that the same allocation as 2006 would be kept for the 2010, 2014, 2018 and 2022 tournaments:
A qualifying draw was scheduled to take place in July 2019; this was later cancelled to allow each confederation to hold their own draws for their individual qualifying tournaments. The first qualifying matches were played in June 2019 in the Asian qualifying tournament, with Mongolia defeating Brunei 2-0 on 6 June, in which Mongolian player Norjmoogiin Tsedenbal scored the first goal of qualifying.
On 9 December 2019, the World Anti-Doping Agency handed Russia a four-year ban from all major sporting events, after RUSADA was found non-compliant for handing over manipulating lab data to investigators. However, the Russia national team could still enter qualification, as the ban only applies to the final tournament to decide the world champions. If Russia were to qualify, Russian footballers could still potentially compete at the tournament, pending a decision from FIFA. However, a team representing Russia which uses the Russian flag and anthem cannot participate under the WADA decision.
The first five proposed venues for the World Cup were unveiled at the beginning of March 2010. The stadiums aim to employ cooling technology capable of reducing temperatures within the stadium by up to 20 °C (36 °F), and the upper tiers of the stadiums will be disassembled after the World Cup and donated to countries with less developed sports infrastructure. The country intends for the stadiums to reflect the historical and cultural aspects of Qatar. Each stadium will incorporate four priorities, which are legacy, comfort, accessibility and sustainability. Qatar aims to build the stadiums with the highest sustainability and environmental standards. The stadiums will be equipped with cooling systems that are environmentally friendly overcoming the challenging environmental nature of the country. The plan is to build Zero Waste stadiums using environmentally friendly materials, harmless equipment, and ecologically sustainable solutions through the implementation of renewable and low energy solutions. Qatar aspires to be compliant and certified by the Global Sustainability Assessment System (GSAS) for all the world cup stadiums. All of the five stadium projects launched have been designed by German architect Albert Speer & Partners. Leading football clubs in Europe wanted the World Cup to take place from 28 April to 29 May rather than the typical June and July staging, due to concerns about the heat.
A report released on 9 December 2010 quoted FIFA President Sepp Blatter as stating that other nations could host some matches during the World Cup. However, no specific countries were named in the report. Blatter added that any such decision must be taken by Qatar first and then endorsed by FIFA’s executive committee. Prince Ali bin Al Hussein of Jordan told the Australian Associated Press that holding games in Bahrain, United Arab Emirates, and possibly Saudi Arabia would help to incorporate the people of the region during the tournament.
According to a report released in April 2013 by Merrill Lynch, the investment banking division of Bank of America, the organisers in Qatar have requested FIFA to approve a smaller number of stadiums due to the growing costs. Bloomberg.com said that Qatar wishes to cut the number of venues to eight or nine from the twelve originally planned.
Although as of April 2017, FIFA had yet to finalise the number of stadiums Qatar must have ready in five years’ time, Qatar’s Supreme Committee for Delivery & Legacy said it expected there would be eight.
In January 2019, Infantino said that FIFA was exploring the possibility of having neighbouring countries host matches during the tournament, in order to reduce political tensions.
The final draw is scheduled to take place in April 2022.
The official emblem was unveiled on 3 September 2019 during simultaneous events at the Doha Tower, Katara Cultural Village Amphitheatre, Msheireb Downtown Doha, and Zubarah. It is designed to resemble the infinity symbol and the number “8”, reflecting upon the “interconnected” event and the eight host stadiums. It also evokes the tournament trophy, imagery of shawls to signify the tournament’s winter scheduling, and waves resembling desert dunes. The typography of the emblem’s wordmark incorporates kashida—the practice of enlongating certain parts of characters in Arabic script to provide typographical emphasis.
A number of groups and media outlets have expressed concern over the suitability of Qatar to host the event, with regard to interpretations of human rights, particularly worker conditions, the rights of fans in the LGBT community because of the illegality of homosexuality in Qatar, climatic conditions and accusations of Qatar for supporting terrorism both diplomatically and financially. Hassan Abdulla al Thawadi, chief executive of the Qatar 2022 World Cup bid, said the Muslim state would also permit alcohol consumption during the event, however drinking in public is not permitted as Qatar’s legal system is based on Sharia.
The selection of Qatar as the host country has been controversial; FIFA officials were accused of corruption and allowing Qatar to “buy” the World Cup, the treatment of construction workers was called into question by human rights groups, and the high costs needed to make the plans a reality were criticised. The climate conditions caused some to call hosting the tournament in Qatar infeasible, with initial plans for air-conditioned stadiums giving way to a potential date switch from summer to winter.
In May 2014, Sepp Blatter, who was FIFA President at the time of the selection but later banned for illegal payments, remarked that awarding the World Cup to Qatar was a “mistake” because of the extreme heat. However, while addressing delegates from African and Asian confederations, Blatter said allegations of corruption and some of the criticism, including those from sponsors, were “very much linked to racism and discrimination”.
The issue of migrant workers’ rights has also attracted attention, with an investigation by The Guardian newspaper claiming that many workers are denied food and water, have their identity papers taken away from them, and that they are not paid on time or at all, making some of them in effect slaves. The Guardian has estimated that up to 4,000 workers may die due to lax safety and other causes by the time the competition is held. These claims are based upon the fact that 522 Nepalese workers and over 700 Indian workers have died since 2010, when Qatar’s bid as World Cup’s host was won, about 250 Indian workers dying each year. Given that there are half a million Indian workers in Qatar, the Indian government says that is quite a normal number of deaths. In the United Kingdom, in any group of half a million 25- to 30-year-old men, an average of 300 die each year, a higher rate than among Indian workers in Qatar.
In 2015, a crew of four journalists from the BBC were arrested and held for two days after they attempted to report on the condition of workers in the country. The reporters had been invited to visit the country as guests of the Government of Qatar.
The Wall Street Journal reported in June 2015 the International Trade Union Confederation’s claim that over 1,200 workers had died while working on infrastructure and real-estate projects related to the World Cup, and the Qatar Government’s counter-claim that none had. The BBC later reported that this often-cited figure of 1,200 workers having died in World Cup construction in Qatar between 2011 and 2013 is not correct, and that the 1,200 number is instead representing deaths from all Indians and Nepalese working in Qatar, not just of those workers involved in the preparation for the World Cup, and not just of construction workers. Most Qatar nationals avoid doing manual work or low-skilled jobs; additionally, they are given preference at the workplace. Michael van Praag, president of Royal Dutch Football Association, requested the FIFA Executive Committee to pressure Qatar over those allegations to ensure better workers’ conditions. He also stated that a new vote on the attribution of the World Cup to Qatar would have to take place if the corruption allegations were to be proved.
In March 2016, Amnesty International accused Qatar of using forced labour and forcing the employees to live in poor conditions and withholding their wages and passports. It accused FIFA of failing to stop the stadium being built on “human right abuses”. Migrant workers told Amnesty about verbal abuse and threats they received after complaining about not being paid for up to several months. Nepali workers were even denied leave to visit their family after the 2015 Nepal earthquake.
In October 2017, the International Trade Union Confederation said that Qatar has signed an agreement to improve the situation of more than 2 million migrant workers in the country. According to the ITUC, the agreement provided for establishing substantial reforms in labour system, including ending the Al-Kafala system. The ITUC also stated that the agreement would positively affect the general situation of workers, especially of those who work on the 2022 FIFA World Cup infrastructure projects. The workers will no longer need their employer’s permission to leave the country or change their jobs.
In July 2019 it was reported that more than 1,400 migrants had died since work commenced due to poor conditions and human rights groups forecast the death toll could rise to 4,000 by 2022.
In February 2019, Amnesty International questioned whether they would be able to complete the promised labour reforms before the start of the World Cup, a sentiment that was backed by FIFA. Amnesty International found that abuses were still occurring despite the nation taking some steps to improve labour rights.
In May 2019, an investigation by the UK’s Daily Mirror newspaper discovered some of the 28,000 workers on the stadiums are being paid 750 Qatari Riyal per month, which is equivalent to £190 per month or 99p an hour for a typical 48-hour week.
Owing to the climate in Qatar, concerns were expressed over holding the World Cup in its traditional timeframe of June and July. In October 2013, a task force was commissioned to consider alternative dates and report after the 2014 FIFA World Cup in Brazil. On 24 February 2015, the FIFA Task Force proposed that the tournament be played from late November to late December 2022, to avoid the summer heat between May and September and also avoid clashing with the 2022 Winter Olympics in February and Ramadan in April.
The notion of staging the tournament in November is controversial since it would interfere with the regular season schedules of some domestic leagues around the world. Commentators have noted the clash with the Western Christmas season is likely to cause disruption, whilst there is concern about how short the tournament is intended to be. FIFA executive committee member Theo Zwanziger said that awarding the 2022 World Cup to Qatar’s desert state was a “blatant mistake”. Frank Lowy, chairman of Football Federation Australia, said that if the 2022 World Cup were moved to November and thus upset the schedule of the A-League, they would seek compensation from FIFA. Richard Scudamore, chief executive of the Premier League, stated that they would consider legal action against FIFA because a move would interfere with the Premier League’s popular Christmas and New Year fixture programme. On 19 March 2015, FIFA sources confirmed that the 2022 World Cup final would be played on 18 December.
Qatar has faced growing pressure over its hosting of the World Cup in relation to allegations over the role of former top football official Mohammed bin Hammam played in securing the bid. A former employee of the Qatar bid team alleged[year needed] that several African officials were paid $1.5 million by Qatar. She retracted her claims, but later said she was coerced to do so by Qatari bid officials. In March 2014 it was discovered that disgraced former CONCACAF president Jack Warner and his family were paid almost $2 million from a firm linked to Qatar’s successful campaign. The Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) is investigating Warner and his alleged links to the Qatari bid.
Five of FIFA’s six primary sponsors, Sony, Adidas, Visa, Hyundai and Coca-Cola, have called upon FIFA to investigate the claims. The Sunday Times published bribery allegations based on a leak of millions of secret documents. Jim Boyce, Vice President of FIFA, has gone on record stating he would support a re-vote to find a new host if the corruption allegations are proven. FIFA completed a lengthy investigation into these allegations and a report cleared Qatar of any wrongdoing. Despite the claims, the Qataris insist that the corruption allegations are being driven by envy and mistrust while Sepp Blatter said it is fueled by racism in the British media.
In the 2015 FIFA corruption case, Swiss officials, operating under information from the United States Department of Justice, arrested many senior FIFA officials in Zurich, Switzerland. They also seized physical and electronic records from FIFA’s main headquarters. The arrests continued in the United States where several FIFA officers were arrested and FIFA buildings raided. The arrests were made on the information of at least a $150 million (USD) corruption and bribery scandal.
On 7 June 2015, Phaedra Almajid, the former media officer for the Qatar bid team, claimed that the allegations would result in Qatar not hosting the World Cup. In an interview published on the same day, Domenico Scala, the head of FIFA’s Audit and Compliance Committee, stated that “should there be evidence that the awards to Qatar and Russia came only because of bought votes, then the awards could be cancelled.”