Why was Qatar the Most Successful Host of the FIFA World Cup?

Why was Qatar the Most Successful Host of the FIFA World Cup? By Rithika Thomas - January 24, 2023
FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022

FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022

The FIFA World Cup tournaments have been held every 4 years since the inaugural tournament in 1930 by host country Uruguay. It’s one of the most prestigious sports events with watchers from all around the world that has steadily increased with every world cup. With the 2018 world cup recording nearly half the world population at 3.572 billion watchers, the 2022 world cup surpassed that number with over 5 billion. Out of this, the finals match at the Lusail stadium alone contributed 1.5 billion spectators including the 88,966 audience at the stadium, a whopping 30% of the total number of watchers.

            From these numbers alone, it is no surprise that Qatar was voted as the best FIFA World Cup of this century according to the BBC Sport poll, with 78% in their favour. Following this were hosts Japan and South Korea, deemed to be the next best. So, what exactly made Qatar so successful?

Let’s look at how this middle eastern country surpassed everybody’s expectations.


  1. Distance

With an area of just 11,586km², Qatar was the first middle eastern nation and one of the smallest nations to ever host the tournament. This was the first in history where the fans could attend more than a single match on the same day. The matches were spread across 8 stadiums, and all but one was within 60km of each other making it the “most compact” world cup in history.

      To make this completely accessible, the Ministry of Transportation had made travelling free for the duration of the world cup using the Hayya Card as the only credential required rather than the usual paid travelling card.


  1. Expenditure

Qatar reportedly spent approximately $220 billion which is 16 times more than the previous host, Russia, had spent. Most of their money went into infrastructure since the bid winner was announced in 2010. This included construction of the stadiums, accommodations, the metro, and an entire city (Lusail).

      According to a report from The Tass, Qatar had spent $6.5 billion on the stadiums alone, with the installation of the cooling systems taking most of the coverage. This was to ensure a regulated temperature throughout the games for the fans and the players, and to take care of the high-grade pitches.

      For accommodation, there were private islands, villas, luxury hotels and apartments built. Doha Metro alone, which connects all the stadiums except Al Bayt in Al Khor, cost $36 billion.

      This large expenditure has now left the residents with a newly established home.


  1. Time of Event

An event usually held during the summer months of June/July/August was held in the winter season, making this world cup truly one of a kind. This was done to avoid the harsh heat of the Gulf summers, as winters are a lot more tolerable and pleasant for outdoor activities.

Held from 20th November to 18th December, this was the shortest world cup held since Argentina ’78. Furthermore, it was planned in a way that the exhilarating final was played on Qatar National Day, doubling the celebrations that would take to the streets. 


  1. Technology

Technology took the center stage at the tournament. Not only did it help in making critical calls, but it kept fans and spectators engaged.

  • For the first time in a world cup, the Semi-Automated Offside Technology (SAOT) was used to detect the position of the ball with an inertia sensor installed in conjunction with 12 optical tracking cameras. Data was collected and analysed and the player in the offside position was flagged.
  • FIFA debuted its live streaming platform FIFA+ and delivered an innovative and engaging product to the fans.
  • Qatar went an extra mile with making mobile connectivity completely free. Ooredoo provided a complimentary SIM card or eSIM to all Hayya card holders and made free Wi-Fi available on public transport and metro stations.


  1. Sustainability

This world cup was an ode to sustainability with Qatar’s stadiums. While most will be reused, one of them will not remain intact:

  • Stadium 974 was made from recycled shipping containers that will be completely dismantled and shipped to a country that is in need of a second-hand stadium. As the world’s first fully demountable covered football stadium, it has provided a template for low-impact sports arenas. The surrounding will be converted into a waterfront business district.
  • A total of around 170,000 seats from the remaining stadiums are being donated to underdeveloped countries in need of sports infrastructure.
  • The Education City stadium will serve the students and faculty from nine different universities and 11 schools.
  • Al Bayt and Thumama stadium will be converted into a five-star hotel and shopping center with a sports medicine hospital.
  • Lusail stadium, the golden dome that seated over 80,000 spectators, will be transformed into a community hub and residential area.


  1. History Made

Qatar was the host of countless firsts. We witnessed records breaking left, right, and center, be it the accessibility and safety for the fans, the viewing experience at 8 world class stadiums or the players’ records. These are perhaps what makes Qatar arguably the best host in FIFA history. Here are some of the many times history was made on the pitch:

  • Cristiano Ronaldo scored a penalty in the Portugal v Ghana group match to become the first player to score at five different FIFA World Cups.
  • Lionel Messi’s penalty score in the final made him the first player to score in each of the knockout stages since Mexico ’86. He had also set the record for the oldest player to score five goals in a single world cup.
  • Morocco smashed the world’s expectations by being the first African and Arab nation to qualify for the semi-finals.
  • Stephanie Frappart became the first woman in FIFA World Cup history to referee a finals match. Together with assistants Neuza Back and Karen Diaz, she composed the first ever female trio to officiate the tournament.


Gianni Infantino, the FIFA president, and other prominent sports figures declared the tournament to be the finest ever, owing to the game’s inclusion and diversity.

I think I speak for everyone when I say that this was the most electrifying celebration of football, and what’s better than celebrating the winners on Qatar National Day. Apart from a record of firsts, Qatar has positively set the standard for how a world event should be hosted.

By Rithika Thomas - January 24, 2023

Leave a comment