The latter stages of this year are on track to bear witness to what is projected to be the most widely spectated sporting event in human history, when this year’s FIFA World Cup kicks off in Qatar on the 20th of November. A record breaking five billion people are predicted to tune in over the course of its 29-day run – 1.5 billion more than 2018’s previous edition in Russia.
Few could have foreseen the mammoth strides the small Arab nation of Qatar would make between 2010, when they won the bid for the tournament, and today. For one, Qatar’s national side have ascended the FIFA rankings from an all-time low of 114, to today’s commendable 48; to now rub shoulders with the likes of Greece, the Republic of Ireland and Paraguay.
Unprecedented Infrastructure Projects
The country itself has undertaken one of the largest single infrastructure and building projects of the 21st century in order to prepare for the impending competition. To date, Qatar is thought to have invested around $220 billion on the World Cup. Compare this with former hosts Russia’s $11 billion spend and Brazil’s $15 billion and it’s easy to see that this is on an altogether greater order of magnitude.
This is perhaps understandable when one considers that Qatar, a small nation of some 4,500 sq. miles, has only one major population center in Doha, where an estimated 90% of all Qataris live. As such, before Qatar was going to be in a position to host an event of this scale, it would have to build the necessary infrastructure and venues.
To this end, over the past decade, Qatar has built a new airport, railway system and many miles of new roads in order to accommodate the 1.2 million people preparing to descend on the country. It’s also built 7 new stadiums from the ground up, and completely remodeled the 8th that will round out the game venues for November.
A Lucrative Global Event
Of course for Qatar, and the global football market, the prospective income for this coming event is all set to be worth billions itself, with everything from merchandising to broadcast licensing shaping up to line FIFA’s pockets to a sum of over $7 billion. Cadet sectors, such as sports betting, are also expecting a significant uptick, with leading platforms like SBO.net, which collates the very best football betting sites available in over 50 countries, positioned to experience a surge in digital football over the span of the tournament.
Pundits and fans alike increasingly turn to platforms such as this, safe in the knowledge that they provide robust assurances, a quality selection of bookmakers, and among the most competitive bet offers available anywhere. In 2018, the global betting revenue over the world cup ran to the sum of $155 billion, a number which is expected to be topped this year due to a range of factors from greater smartphone market saturation and changes in legislation in key markets.
Next Generation Stadiums
Qatar’s new mammoth stadiums now rank among the most sophisticated, beautiful and innovative you’ll find anywhere in the world. Also among their number is the world’s first completely temporary stadium. Known as Stadium 974, this 40,000 capacity venue is built from shipping containers and is designed in such a way that it can be disassembled in a sustainable and low-impact way at the end of the tournament. This is certainly impressive, and will likely start a trend in large-capacity “pop-up” structures as we move into increasingly environmentally aware times.
The other 7 stadiums, however, are here to stay. The jewel in the crown is the 80,000 capacity Lusail Stadium that will serve as the major showpiece of the tournament. It will play host to key matches throughout the competition and will serve as the setting for the final itself. Designed by Foster+Foster, the firm of the eminent architect Norman Foster, it will be cooled using solar power and was constructed with a net-zero carbon footprint. Around 40,000 of its seats will be repurposed following the conclusion of the event, and parts of the structure will be remodeled to incorporate athletic facilities, a health clinic and a vibrant community space featuring restaurants and retail outlets.