Hosting the World Cup attracts massive exposure to a host country in terms of tourism, foreign trade, jobs and potential for new development. But it can be very expensive. For the 2022 World Cup in Qatar, which runs from November 20 to December 18, the government is shelling out around $229 billion, making it the most expensive ever.
That total is almost five times the combined $48.63 billion spent on the events that decided football’s national supremacy from 1990 to 2018. World Cups are held once every four years.
But there can be significant disadvantages for the host country. Excessive spending on infrastructure and stadiums led some hosts to go into massive debt and end up with little use building after the FIFA World Cup ended.
Winning the bid to host the World Cup can take a decade. A country must submit a bid proposal which lists why it makes financial sense for football’s international governing body, as well as how it will serve its purpose of improving the sport’s global reach.
The organization scores proposals in two main categories: infrastructure and commercial. Nine criteria are weighted according to different levels of importance, the stages being considered the most important. Tax exemptions are another key consideration as local governments turn stadiums and World Cup-related venues into tax-free zones.
FIFA’s three main revenues come from broadcasting, ticket sales and marketing revenue, all of which go to the organization. It also allocates funds to host countries to cover overall tournament operations. For 2022, FIFA has disbursed around $1.7 billion to Qatar, including the $440 million in total prize money for the teams. The 2022 World Cup in Qatar is expected to bring in $4.7 billion in revenue.
Host countries rely on the economic impact derived from the tournament to generate revenue, and there are both short-term and long-term economic impacts. An increase in tourism, hotel stays, job creation, and above-average spending at restaurants and local businesses are examples of short-term economic indicators.
But some host countries, which lack the infrastructure or stadiums to support the biggest football tournament in the world, run up huge debts and end up with so-called “white elephant” structures after the tournament is over.
Take the case of Brazil: the cost of the 2014 World Cup skyrocketed there as the country had to build new roads, public transport lines, stadiums and hotels. Estimates suggest that $11.6 billion was spent on this tournament.
But now the Mane Garrincha stadium in Brasilia, which cost nearly a billion dollars to build, is being used as a bus depot. Meanwhile, protesters criticized both FIFA and local government officials, saying the funds would be better spent on social services for people rather than football stadiums.
Qatar, on the other hand, has spent more than a decade preparing for the 2022 tournament, with up to $500 million being spent a week to ramp up production.
However, being on the world stage has also brought to light allegations of corruption, calling FIFA’s selection process into question. In 2015, 41 FIFA officials were charged with bribery, racketeering, wire fraud and bribery for money laundering.
Additionally, in 2016, Amnesty International reported for the first time numerous human rights violations resulting from pressure on the country to meet the 2022 deadline. Some 1.7 million migrant workers make up 90% of the labor force. labor force in Qatar, and almost all of them were underpaid and subjected to below-average living and working conditions.
Nonetheless, hosting the FIFA World Cup is considered an honor as football is the most popular sport in the world, with over 5 billion fans. That honor goes to the United States, Canada and Mexico who together will host the next World Cup in 2026. The United States, which hosted the 1994 World Cup, is considered the most successful tournament, attracting over 3.5 million fans.
Admittedly, it may be a bad idea for some countries to host these games, and negative FIFA headlines have embittered some against the event. But history suggests fans will continue to tune in to their country’s hopes and aspirations of winning the cherished World Cup.
Watch the video above to find out why hosting the FIFA World Cup may be a bad idea for some countries.