In its original FIFA bid, Qatar pledged to build nine new stadiums and refurbish an additional three to ensure adequate space for one of the world’s most popular sporting events.
The stadiums, it was said, would be constructed with state-of-the art technology that would incorporate solar power to cool interiors since temperatures are particularly high in the summer.
This has been the cause of ongoing controversy; earlier this year, FIFA’s Secretary General Jerome Valcke said it would be impossible to have a summer World Cup. But he spoke out of turn, and FIFA has left the issue open-ended for now.
And Qatar’s shady human rights record first unveiled by The Guardian brought even more scrutiny. Nepalese workers reported dismal working conditions and poorly ventilated, cramped living quarters and insufficient food and drink.
Last summer, according to The Guardian, roughly one person died every day from heart attacks brought on by extreme heat and exhaustion.
What, if anything, either of these two issues has to do with the decision to cut the number of planned stadiums by one third is not exactly clear.
Ghanim Al Kuwari, the organizing committee’s senior manager for projects, announced the plans at a conference in Doha yesterday, according to Bloomberg News, but failed to give a reason for the decision.
But John Sfakianakis, chief investment strategist at MASIC, a Riyadh investment company, told the paper that their decision was motivated by costs.
“It does always make good sense to do necessary cost-cutting and reviews of capex for such huge projects that are front-loaded.”
As it stands, Qatar will spend at least $34 billion on rail and metro facilities, $7 billion on port development, $12 billion on an airport that is behind schedule already, and $4 billion on the stadiums that will most likely fall into disuse once the World Cup is over, though it is very likely the end costs will far exceed early estimates.
Construction of Zaha Hadid’s Al Wakrah stadium, which many claim looks like a vagina, is underway and the Al Rayyan Stadium should be next. Construction on it should start by the end of 2014 or early 2015.