From its successful bid to hold the 2022 World Cup to its preparations for the monthlong tournament, Qatar has been a controversial choice. The scorching climate in the Persian Gulf country forced a switch from the usual summer slot to milder November and December. Investigations continue into how a tiny nation (population 2.7 million) with no soccer pedigree managed to win a secret vote to become host. While human-rights groups have decried the treatment of foreign workers, Qatar says the event is a catalyst for improving labor laws.
Ever since soccer ruling body FIFA in 2010 awarded Russia and Qatar the rights to each host a World Cup, allegations of vote-buying have swirled. (Two members of the 24-man FIFA executive committee that cast votes for World Cup hosts were suspended before the 2010 ballot after being filmed offering votes for cash.) While a FIFA probe into their bids cleared Russia and Qatar of wrongdoing, investigations continue in Switzerland and France, and a 2020 U.S. indictment accused three FIFA executive committee members of receiving payments to back Qatar’s bid. Qatar denies allegations of vote-buying. FIFA said awarding the event to the emirate was based on the organization’s strategy of expanding soccer into new regions.