Mega Events Equal Mega Problems?

The 2014 Sochi Winter Games dominate the dialogue surrounding mega sporting events right now. As runner up, Brazil’s 2014 World Cup Games and 2016 Summer Olympics & Paralympics. In what appears to be in third place for garnering attention is the 2022 World Cup, currently set to take place in Qatar.

But, it is only a matter of time when the spotlight will rotate to highlight the intriguing background of Doha’s bid and preparation for the 2022 games in Qatar. Since its selection in 2010, most media focused on Qatar as the host nation of the 2022 FIFA World Cup™  has cast a very negative light.

FIFA disclosed that Qatar was primarily selected because European nations have huge interests—political and economic—in the tiny, oil-rich world power. Despite these investments and interests in positive relations with Qatar, holding the World Cup in the country presents a host of problems from start to finish. In addition to the prior alleged acts of bribery during the bid process—also considered by us as the most important phase of a sporting mega-event—critiques have been made about human rights violations taking place during the construction phases.

Other troubles range from soccer games in the extreme heat of the desert-locked country to the major lack of pre-existent infrastructure necessary for a successful mega-event. However, none are as alarming as the Guardian investigation that revealed the abuse of migrant workers hired for the 2022 games. The United Nations and Amnesty International followed suit to condemn Qatar for the mistreatment of these laborers from other countries.

Since these accusations, the organizing committee has pledged to provide standard wages and to conduct inspections aimed at improving the welfare of workers. However, this accountability will only apply to stadiums, without including the wider infrastructure projects. Keeping in line with our work and recently released publication, most mega sporting events call for a great deal of costly road and building projects.

Since we place emphasis on the importance of the bid process and infrastructure development, these problems reveal a flawed approach to the bid. And in the wake of this news, the recent call for reform to the FIFA bid process seems very justified. Interestingly, when FIFA addressed Qatar’s human rights record at a European Parliament session, the insiders in the bid process appeared taken by surprise on the news.  Whether they knew or not…a slate of questions come to mind…

  • Did Doha fail to outline strategies for infrastructure development—transportation and sporting—during the bid process?
  • How comprehensive was the committee’s strategy on construction, labor, and resources in the bid?
  • What do you think about all of the controversy surrounding Qatar 2022?
  • Should FIFA find a new location for the 2022 World Cup?
  • Should FIFA reform its bid process?

Regardless of the answers, sporting mega-events sometimes seem to cause more mega problems than benefits.

Photo compliments of Reuters.

Photo compliments of Reuters.

Photo compliments of FIFA

Photo compliments of FIFA

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