Qatar and Russia to host the 2022 and 2018 World Cups
FIFA chooses next venues for world football cups. Qatar is first Mideast nation to win the coveted prize. Costs should top some US$ 100 billion in investments and infrastructures. The “wrong decision”, says an angry Obama.

Doha (AsiaNews) – Qataris waving red and white flags and blowing vuvuzelas celebrated their country’s successful bid to organise the 2022 World Cup. In Doha’s Waqef market, a giant screen showed the selection process live from Zurich. As soon as the winner was announced, the party began. Vuvuzelas horns were back at full blast after their world debut at the South African world cup.

Qatar is the first Arab nation in the history of the competition to win the right to organise the cup. With a population of 1.6 million, it beat the competition of nations like the United States, Australia, Japan and South Korea.

Sheikh Mohammed Hamad bin Khalifa Al-Thani, son of the current ruler of Qatar and chairman of Qatar's bid to stage the 2022 FIFA World Cup, spoke after the announcement by FIFA president Joseph Blatter. He stressed that his country was totally committed to the event.

Scorching summertime temperatures was the main concern in regards to the Qatari bid. The emir said that all 12 stadiums would be climate-controlled and zero-carbon emitting, and that they would be modular in design so that they can be dismantled and taken to countries with poor football infrastructure.

Independent from the United Kingdom since 1971, Qatar is a major oil producer, as well as the third largest exporter of gas in the world. The Gulf kingdom does not have a long football (soccer) tradition, but thanks to oil revenues, its population is one of the richest in the world. It has also attracted important football players like Gabriel Batistuta and Frank de Boer towards the end of their careers.

Qatar plans to spend US$ 3 billion to renovate three stadiums and build nine new ones, with the 12 venues divided among seven host cities within a 60-kilometre radius. Fans will thus be able to see two matches a day, Sheikh Al-Thani said.

Six stadiums will be located in the capital Doha, one each in Al-Shamal, Al-Kohr, Lusail, Umm Salal, Al-Rayann and Al-Wakhrar. The smallest will hold 43,000 people; the largest in Lusail will seat more than 80,000. A total of 2,869 million spectators are expected.

The 2021 Confederations Cup and the 2022 World Cup will have an operational budget of US$ 645 million but the final bill for all the infrastructures might reach US$ 100 billion. The royal family is willing to come up with the money to build a transportation network, training venues for national teams and hotels to increase drastically the capacity of the hospitality industry.

US President Barack Obama said he felt FIFA had made "the wrong decision", indicating that he did not particularly like losing to the emirate.

Russia too celebrated its successful bid for the 2018 cup. However, before the announcement, Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin accused Russia’s competitors of dirty tricks. After the choice was made public, he flew to Zurich to “congratulate” FIFA.