Qatar fears recession making World Cup trip harder to afford
By Rob Harris
AP Global Soccer Writer
Organizers of the World Cup in Qatar are concerned that many fans won’t be able to afford traveling to the tournament in 2022 if the coronavirus pandemic causes a global recession.
Many countries around the world are expected to suffer historically deep recessions as a result of the virus and the associated lockdown restrictions.
Sporting events have also been postponed, including soccer’s European Championship that was due to start next month but has been moved until 2021.
Qatar still hopes six of its eight stadiums will be completed by the end of this year despite the COVID-19 disruption. The World Cup is scheduled to be played in November-December 2022 — rather than its usual June-July slot — which provides more time for the resumption of international travel.
“By 2022 I’m optimistic that we would overcome this pandemic as a human race collectively,” World Cup organizing committee secretary general Hassan Al Thawadi said Wednesday. “It will be one of the early opportunities for all of us to celebrate together, to engage together, to bring people together.”
Qatar is promising the World Cup will be affordable for fans but the tiny gas-rich nation has been affected by economic activity shutting down in so many countries. State-owned Qatar Airways, a World Cup sponsor, has said it will cut jobs as the global aviation industry has been largely grounded.
“There’s always the concern about the global economy and the ability of fans to be able to afford traveling and afford coming and participating and celebrating the World Cup,” Al Thawadi said on a Leaders in Sport live stream.
“We are still committed to ensuring that we create a balance between an affordable World Cup … and a price range that is affordable for fans and a price range that is workable, functional for the industry, for service providers, for the supply chain that is responsible for delivering the World Cup.”