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The push towards financial responsibility has led Qatar to cut the budget for the 2022 FIFA World Cup by between 40 and 50 percent, according to emerging reports.
The Gulf nation has been cash-strapped for the past 2.5 years due to the international drop in oil prices since 2014. Since the OPEC struck a production cut deal in November, markets have begun to recover, though much of the short and medium-term damage to Qatar’s economy has already been done.
But Al Thawadi argues that the FIFA budget cuts do not relate to the oil price crisis, insisting instead that fiscal responsibility “is a commitment we have made from day one.”
“We wanted to ensure there is financial responsibility in relation to the infrastructure relating to the World Cup,” Hassan Al Thawadi, the secretary-general of the supreme committee for delivery and legacy, said. “That’s why we had set an initial budget early on and made a commitment towards reducing it as the market became clearer, as the project became clearer, as we define the scope.”
FIFA, the international governing body for soccer, has been embroiled in corruption scandals since 2015, when U.S. law enforcement authorities indicted the organization’s top officials. Smaller budgets are intended to prevent embezzlement and misuse of funds.
The committee now forecasts tournament infrastructure expenses to land between $8 and $10 billion, with a majority of the funds going towards new stadiums and training grounds.
“Plans are moving ahead pretty well,” the committee chief said. ”In terms of overall infrastructure as well… plans are going ahead on schedule.”
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Doha had originally proposed the construction of 12 venues in its bid to host the international tournament, but the new budget allots money for seven new stadiums and the refurbishment of one other.
“FIFA has not yet agreed on the final number and we are in discussions with them to finalize the final number of stadiums that will fit the operating model of Qatar 2022 FIFA World Cup,” Al Thawadi added. “We are moving ahead with eight stadiums and in case discussions go on there might be an extra stadium to be developed.”
By Zainab Calcuttawala for Oilprice.com
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Zainab Calcuttawala is an American journalist based in Morocco. She completed her undergraduate coursework at the University of Texas at Austin (Hook’em) and reports on…