Qatar reviewing World Cup stadium commitment
DOHA, Qatar (AP) — Qatar organizers are yet to decide whether to build all 12 stadiums outlined in their successful bid to host the 2022 World Cup.
The organizing committee issued a statement in response to reports on Monday that only eight World Cup stadiums would be constructed, saying it was customary for hosts to review bid plans before proposing “final host cities and stadia projects” for approval by FIFA.
“This is the same process that all FIFA World Cup host nations undergo. For Qatar, the process of selecting the final proposed lineup of host venues is ongoing,” the Qatar 2022 Supreme Committee for Delivery & Legacy said in a statement emailed to The Associated Press. “The requirement is a minimum of eight and a maximum of 12″ stadiums.
In May last year, FIFA secretary general Jerome Valcke said Qatar could use eight stadiums, despite the 12-venue plan required when bidding, and told The AP that ongoing talks with local organizers would be “pragmatic and we will find the right number.”
FIFA requires at least eight stadiums for the 64-match tournament, and future hosts Brazil and Russia opted for 12. Brazil’s preparations have been in disarray, with three stadiums still not completely ready just seven weeks before the tournament kicks off.
Qatar defeated bids from the United States, Japan, South Korea and Australia to host the 2022 World Cup, promising air-conditioned stadiums amid billions of dollars in infrastructure projects.
In 2010, Qatar submitted a detailed bid document to FIFA which called for $3 billion spending to renovate three stadiums and build nine new ones.
Reducing that plan now could affect a promise to help poorer countries by sending them materials when stadiums are scaled back in size after the tournament.
“After the event, modular sections from the stadiums are planned to be used to construct 22 stadiums around the world in developing countries,” a FIFA panel evaluating the Qatari bid wrote in 2010 of the “important” legacy pledge.
Still, the December 2010 decision by FIFA’s ruling board to choose Qatar has been marred by allegations that the voting process was flawed.
There have also been concerns over conditions for migrant construction workers, and the sweltering summer heat in the tiny Gulf nation that could lead to a change from the traditional June-July period for the tournament.
FIFA president Sepp Blatter has already suggested moving the tournament to later in the year to avoid the searing desert heat.
In recent months, Qatar has sought to allay widespread concerns about conditions for migrant workers on World Cup building projects by detailing how their rights must be protected by contractors.
Rights group Amnesty International called the charter a “positive, if partial” step. But the International Trade Union Confederation complained that 2022 World Cup leaders have not demanded changes in Qatar’s labor laws despite mounting criticism from rights groups.