From Oil Field to Football Field: Why Are So Many World Cup Contenders Resource-Dependent?

In all the excitement of the World Cup we should think about the murkiness of the background support these teams get, especially when they are so close to the government’s heart (football is the only sport regular mentioned at the annual State of the Nation Address in Ghana)



Qatar’s alleged plot to “buy” the 2022 World Cup has been making global news recently, with salacious stories of bribes paid to African and South American FIFA officials and deals to exchange natural gas for votes. Whether or not the allegations are true, oil revenues made Qatar’s 2022 bid possible.

In 2010, Qatar collected over $26 billion in oil and gas revenues and it has approximately $115 billion saved in the Qatar Investment Authority, a sovereign wealth fund. Moreover, Qatar has sufficient proven oil reserves to meet current output levels for at least another 37 years.

These revenues and savings are helping to finance the $200 billion on new infrastructure to host the event, such as $34 billion on a new rail and underground metro system, $7 billion on a port and $4 billion on new stadiums.

Next to this, the millions spent on formal lobbying seem paltry. Given the magnitude of oil money involved in obtaining the…

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