Qatar 2022 to skyrocket local pay rights
by Sean Williams on Dec 5, 2010
Amid hype, controversy, red-herrings and red faces (and that was just Sepp Blatter), it was announced on Thursday (Dec 2) that the tiny Arabian peninsula state of Qatar would host FIFA's showcase event, the World Cup, in 2022. Cue frenetic celebrations on the streets of Doha and, well, other places in Qatar.
As the world convened in Zurich to hear where football's greatest prize would be won and lost, it was thought among most experts that the decision would be a toss-up between Qatar and Australia, another footballing frontier Blatter appears eager to tap into. Yet Qatar ran out a resounding winner, sparking joy, anger and no small measure of ignominy for the game's ruling body, which now looks little more than a sporting cosa nostra, Blatter its prune-like capo.
But while attendees rushed to the hauptbanhof and flughafen, the Middle East's broadcast operators will have been jumping for joy. An independent study from researchers Grant Thornton last week asserted that the Cup would bring US$14bn to the region's football by 2022 alone.
And wherever there's money in football, there's money in showing it.
While this year's World Cup broadcasts, by Al Jazeera, were largely seen as a sham , 2022's Qatari party stands to earn the region's broadcasters another 30 per cent rise in football rights, reaching US$500m. A large part of this is due to Qatar's proximity to India, whose starry eyes would earn Blatter and co precious more pennies with which to introduce fifth, sixth, seventh, or - what the hey - eighth officials at games, instead of goal-line technology.
Cynicism aside, Qatar at the very least has the cash to put on a non-alcoholic extravaganza. And the fact it has pledged its stadia to 'developing nations' after the Cup is commendable, if worryingly intangible (Bahrain? Saudi?). And it is safe. And the GCC's fans are, albeit unbeknown to the wider footballing world, staggeringly passionate. So well done Qatar - let's hope your air-conditioned grounds will temper the sweltering Arabian heat (interesting fact: a couple of years ago Blatter ruled against playing at altitudes above 3000m on health grounds, citing the Marc Vivien Foe tragedy. Now he approves a World Cup in heats which could top 55 degrees?).