Stadium 974 will be dismantled after hosting its last World Cup match, one of which Roy Keane likened to “watching an episode of Strictly”, as Brazil danced their way to the Quarter Finals. But what makes Stadium 974 unique?
Well, for start, it’s built out of 974 colourful shipping containers, sitting on the Doha waterfront overlooking the stunning Persian Gulf. The idea is that the stadium can be put up, used, taken down, and shipped off to another area for the next sporting phenomenon. Sustainable, carbon efficient, and easy on the eye, it has been the centrepiece of Qatar’s defence to hosting the World Cup amidst strong backlash from the Western World. At roughly $200bn, it’s certainly not pocket change, becoming the most expensive World Cup in history. But with hundreds of migrant deaths and a devastating impact on the climate, just how big is the true cost of the construction of Qatar 2022 World Cup?
Stadium 974 is the epitome of large-scale, sustainable construction. But when sceptics came calling, the impact on the climate was quickly unpacked. The Qatar World Cup organiser’s claim of a “fully carbon-neutral” tournament screams greenwashing: a deceitful attempt to display a concern for the environment while doing very little, if anything, to make actual ecological improvements. Carbon Market Watch recently uncovered that when FIFA calculated the carbon footprint for the seven new stadiums, it completely disregarded the sources of carbon, misconstruing emissions to be 8 times less than the true figure.
A calamitous climate cost, but the human cost of the unsafe construction practice is also blatantly catastrophic. The Qatari official responsible for the delivery of the 2022 World Cup has reported “between 400 and 500” migrants have died on World Cup-related projects. Given the true cost to the climate was masked, it is likely this figure too has been attenuated (The Guardian estimated 6500 had perished). Hazy figures only serve to further dehumanise those who have lost their lives.
Swamped in corruption, story after story provides a bleak reality of the Qatar World Cup. New reports from The Telegraph suggest The Taliban profited significantly from the equipment and materials used during construction. Senior Taliban officials used lucrative wages coupled with peace talks to buy and then subcontract heavy machinery for various infrastructure projects tied to the World Cup. An anonymous source claimed “Some Taliban members had between six and ten pieces of heavy machinery each in Doha, and would earn up to £10,000 per machine per month.”
Given the underlying truths of the World Cup, it’s hard to shed any positive light on the construction. Nevertheless, the principle of constructing a stadium that can be transported and used anywhere in the world is a promising innovation and unlikely to be the last of its kind. Whether the construction of the World Cup in Qatar will have any lasting positive outcomes is yet to be seen, however the true cost of its construction certainly wasn’t a price worth paying.