February 8th, 2021, Doha, Qatar – On the occasion of National Sports Day in Qatar, top sports scholars discussed the social, political, and economic impact of hosting the world’s most prestigious football tournament at a public webinar on February 8th, 2021, titled “From Qatar 2022 to the Americas 2026: Creating Connections and Opportunities between FIFA World Cup Tournaments.”
The event was a collaboration between the US-Qatar Business Council (USQBC) and Qatar Foundation partner Georgetown University in Qatar (GU-Q), and featured Professor Danyel Reiche, Visiting Associate Professor at GU-Q, and Professor Simon Chadwick, Director of Eurasian Sport at Emlyon Business School in France.
“We have a two-fold interest in the FIFA World Cup as it is scheduled to be hosted in Qatar in 2022 and partially in the US in 2026,” said Sheikha Mayes bint Hamad Al-Thani, Managing Director of USQBC’s Doha Office, in her opening remarks. “We believe there are many business connections to be made and lessons to be learned to be carried forward.”
The Qatar-US relationship has grown steadily and is now worth more than $200 billion. The US has been a key partner in Qatar’s rapid economic growth and diversification with over 850 US businesses operating in the country. As Qatar aims to build a $20 billion sports sector before the 2022 World Cup, US companies are expected to play a key role in attaining this target. Similarly, with Qatar set to ramp up investments in the US, lessons from hosting the 2022 FIFA World Cup will help Qatari businesses identify key opportunities in the US.
“We are undertaking research that examines the FIFA World Cup through a social science lens in order to explore the political, economic, and social implications on Qatar as well as on regional and global affairs,” said Dr. Ahmad Dallal, Dean of GU-Q. “And we hope that our research findings will be relevant for the 2026 World Cup, which will be held in the Americas.”
The “Building a Legacy: Qatar FIFA World Cup 2022” research initiative examines how Qatar is not only competing with traditional centers of global sport but also pursuing broader aims, such as contributing to national reputation and security. By hosting the FIFA World Cup 2022 and other major sporting events, launching the beIN Sports global network of sports channels, sponsoring soccer clubs all over the world (i.e. Bayern Munich via Qatar Airways), and owning the French soccer club Paris Saint-Germain via Qatar Sports Investment (QSI), Qatar has strongly positioned itself in international sports networks.
“Hosting an event such as the FIFA World Cup has many implications for a country,” said Dr. Danyel Reiche, Visiting Associate Professor at GU-Q. “Of course, it affects the business environment, but it goes beyond that. It has even been discussed that Qatar hosting the World Cup contributed to the lifting of the blockade.”
Large-scale sporting events continue to offer host nations unprecedented opportunities for political engagement, economic development, and expressions of national branding.
“There is strong evidence that once someone has been to a country, they are more likely to visit that country again in what’s called a ‘follow-on visit’,” said Dr. Simon Chadwick, Director of Eurasian Sport at Emlyon Business School. “This shows that the economic impact of such an event isn’t just limited to the duration of the tournament, but months and years afterwards.”