Report: Qatar at 'increasing risk' to lose 2022 World Cup

REUTERS/Naseem Zeitoon

A study obtained by BBC Sport and conducted by management consultants Cornerstone Global indicates there is "an increasing political risk that Qatar may not host the World Cup in 2022."

Qatar is currently set to host the World Cup in 2022, with construction companies working on a $200-billion infrastructure project to build or expand on 12 venues, a project the study calls "high-risk." The event is cast in further doubt as relations between the small, gas-rich emirate and four surrounding countries - Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Egypt, and Bahrain - have deteriorated due to a perception that Qatar was destabilising the Middle East and supporting terrorism.

All four countries cut air and sea links with Qatar in June as a result.

The study, entitled "Qatar in focus: Is the FIFA World Cup 2022 in danger?" and reportedly conducted without government or outside company funding, claims "tournament insiders and regional experts" have stated that "it is far from certain Doha will actually host the tournament." It also states that "Western diplomats have privately stated they do not know whether or not the tournament will take place as planned."

The report adds: "The reasons for this are many and include open allegations of corruption - both in the bidding process and in the infrastructure development.

"Qatar is under greater pressure regarding its hosting of the tournament ... the current political crisis has seen - or at least raised the possibility of - a Qatari opposition movement emerging.

"This means an increased risk for those working on, or seeking contracts for World Cup 2022 infrastructure ... with a risk of non-payment and no realistic ability to enforce any legal contracts.

"Given the current political situation ... it is certainly possible that the tournament will not be held in Qatar."

Qatar's World Cup bid has repeatedly been criticised from the beginning, as the bid faces accusations of corruption, even when it was announced in 2010.

The building of its stadiums is also controversial as a reported 800,000 migrant workers face inhumane working conditions in extreme heat - coincidentally, another point of contention as the World Cup in Qatar will have to be played in the winter months and thus clashes with club schedules around the world.

All the while, approximately 1,200 workers have already died, according to a report published by the International Trades Union Confederation (ITUC) in March of 2014.

In response to the study, however, Qatar's Supreme Committee for Delivery & Legacy offered: "The intention to create doubt regarding the tournament, while attempting to cause resentment amongst Qatari citizens and anxiety amongst foreign businesses and residents, is as transparent as it is laughable.

"Despite the ambitious title of this report, there is absolutely no risk to the future of the first World Cup in the Middle East."