Understanding the motivations of sport consumers has become increasingly important to researchers, marketers and organizers of mega events worldwide. Because factors of motivation drive sport attendance of mega sporting events such as International Federation of Association Football (FIFA) World Cup tournaments directly, it has been suggested that they can provide insight about future attendance at these events. Mega sport events play a powerful role in projecting a desired image for the host nation that can go far beyond the event, especially in light of economic consequences and travel tourism following the sports tournament. The purpose of this study is to review current literature associating factors of attendance to FIFA World Cups but also expand on gaps within this body of knowledge. This paper considers sport consumption models and scales of spectator motivation to predict forces that may attract or deter football fans from attending the 2022 World Cup in Qatar. With participation in of the sport of football becoming increasingly globalized, FIFA has enabled countries outside the traditional forces of football, such as in Africa, Asia, and the Middle East, to host the World Cup tournament. The relationships between motivational factors for attendance such as destination attributes, weather, and marketing, are discussed in relation to prospective visitor attendance. Research in this area will provide beneficial insight into potential attendance and response to the World Cup in Qatar.
1.2 Research Question and Objectives
Millions of people flock to FIFA World Cup events every four years because of their love and admiration for football; a sport which has important social, cultural, and economic significance for individuals from all walks of life. There are a wide variety of factors as to why attendance is so great for these events which will be explored in this dissertation. The love of football has become increasingly popular across the globe since the first World Cup in 1930. Thus, to accommodate these shifting interests, FIFA has in recent years given special attention to place the World Cup in areas of the world that have not previously hosted the tournament but where interest is growing. With Qatar’s contentious winning bid for the 2022 tournament, it is especially important to look closely into these motivational factors for attendance to see if they still apply for the tournament in Qatar or if football fans will refuse to attend the tournament due to social, political, environmental, and economic factors which deter them from attending.
The research question which this dissertation will attempt to address is:
“To evaluate key motivational factors for spectator attendance at FIFA World Cups and to forecast the attraction of the 2022 World Cup in Qatar.”
The objectives of the project are:
- Literature Review
Football fans from a wide range of cultural backgrounds attend or watch FIFA World Cup tournaments for a myriad of reasons. Perhaps the single most important factor is that of host destination in encouraging or deterring attendance. However, some of these factors may not be relevant in considering levels of attendance in foreign and controversial places such as Doha, Qatar. For reasons of football heritage, conservative attitudes (especially in regards to alcohol, women, and homosexuality), limited infrastructure (such as hotel accommodation), and most importantly, climate, football fans may be more deterred than usual to attend a World Cup tournament in the Middle East.
Because of the economic cost and infrastructure requirements, mega sporting events such as the International Federation of Football Associations (FIFA) World Cup and Olympics are held in developed countries. These nations, usually located in the “global North”, are thought to have already advanced infrastructure and strong economies that allow them to improve their current infrastructure. Moreover, these developed nations, mostly in Europe, are thought to be the economic hubs of the sport. Only in recent years have mega events such as the World Cup been hosted in developing nations or emerging economies outside of Europe and Latin America: namely Asia and Africa. The selection of host countries outside of continents that have typically hosted World Cup tournaments is a deliberate effort to make football more accessible in areas where the sport is becoming increasingly popular, such as in Africa and the Middle East (Bohlmann and Heerden, 2005). For this reason and others, Qatar has won the bid for World Cup 2022 yet fans’ motivations for attendance are in question. In terms of football history, very little known about Qatar and the success its team could have at a World Cup. Will soccer fans attend the tournament from all over the world because of Qatar’s foreign appeal and the draw of its aesthetics, such as its futuristic venues? Or will soccer fans forego their love of the sport and refuse to attend because of environmental factors such as weather, or their distrust of FIFA for the corruption that may have led to Qatar’s winning bid? Perhaps there are other factors such as their opposition to the underlying injustices of the rights of the foreign worker who are building the stadiums in Qatar. In order to understand what football fans’ responses in terms of attendance may be to Qatar’s winning bid, an overview of mega sporting events and sport tourism as a whole must initially be considered.
- Travel Motivation
In understanding why individuals participate in tourism of sporting events such as the World Cup, the initial motivation of travelers must also be considered. Plog (2002) was a pioneer in understanding traveler motivation and designed a psychographic model in order to examine the issue. The foremost driver of travel patterns, as thought by Plog, was that of individual personality types that were determined by dimensions of allocentrism (where individuals are more outwardly looking and focus their attention on others instead of themselves) and psychocentrism (where individuals who prefer the familiar and are not necessarily open to new experiences). These terms have since been recoined as levels of venturesomeness (Plog 2002). Plog makes the conclusions that venturesomeness, the motivation behind travel, is a better predictor of travel than household income which is a better indicator of spending during travels. Additionally, venturosomeness can provide insight into the type of tourism a consumer will indulge in: whether leisurely trips, sports tourism, business trips, etc.
- Sport Tourism
The sector of tourism in which individuals travel to participate in or be spectators of sporting events is considered sport tourism (Tomlinson, 2010), Sport tourism has established new markets for the tourism industry and studies of its behaviour and motivation has traditionally drawn upon theories of role, life span, effects of social structure (social class or socioeconomic status, race, gender), and family life cycle models (Gibson, 2006; Florek et al. 2008). Taking a multi-disciplinary approach such as this is imperative to deriving motivational factors of attendance. Role theory is defined as a collection of behaviours which direct one’s social status and implies that individuals enact rather than occupy a role. This idea of role theory and tourist roles is thought to be a driving factor as to why sport tourists make decisions to attendant sporting events (Gibson, 2006). Tourist roles are ways to define tourist classification schemes and segment the ways in which differing types of tourists exist. These tourist roles can be classified on a continuum of strangeness to familiarity with an established locality. Some tourists venture to unfamiliar territory to procure that which is seen as a novelty whereas others prefer to explore the already familiar and prefer pre-planned activities. These ideas of tourist roles and role theory come into affect with sport tourism such as attendance for World Cups as some attendees may be more or less willing to attend tournaments in areas of the globe that they have never visited before.
- Mega Events
Mega events such as the FIFA World Cups and Olympic Games are considered to be those of extraordinary size, duration (in length of time), global impacts, and worldwide significance that draw in a global audience with large tourist volumes during and after the event (Horne and Manzenreiter, 2004, Lee and Taylor, 2005; Alegi, 2007; Florek et al. 2008). Mega events significantly impact both positively and negatively the economies of host nations, particularly smaller, developing nations, and offer the chance to boost the international image of the host. In addition to the sporting event itself, the experience of attendees through adjoining socio-cultural experiences while traveling in the nation for the sporting event can be powerful opportunities that further boost the country’s image (Florek et al., 2008). Therefore, mega sport events play a powerful role in projecting a desired image for the host nation that can go far beyond the event, especially in light of economic consequences following the sports tournament.
Despite lessons learned from Greece and South Africa’s hosting of the 2004 Olympics and 2010 World Cups, respectively, the city of Doha believes that it will benefit economically from hosting the soccer tournament (Abuzayed, 2013). The impact of tourism and advertising revenue could be a significant boost to the small nation’s economy. Furthermore as demonstrated by Bohlmann and Heerden (2005), the global economy and globalization as a whole leads to the input of foreign direct investment (FDI) into host nations. The combination of FDI, event revenue, and tourism boost is thought to override the financial burden of hosting the games: a costly venture for developing nations in particular due to the costs of improving or building infrastructure from the ground up. In the case of the World Cup in South Korea in 2002, researchers Lee and Taylor (2005) found that almost 60 per cent of tourists that year were attracted, either indirectly or directly, to South Korea because of the World Cup. The nation reaped $1.35 billion in ticket sales, $305 million in income, and an additional $713 million value added. Over 31,000 jobs were added for the South Korean workforce (Abuzayed 2013).
Despite the prevalence of academic research showing the positive impact of mega sport events to the host nation’s economy, the financial challenges for any host nation can be quite significant (Cornelissen, 2004; Alegi, 2007; Florek, Breitbarth, and Conejo, 2008). The infrastructure required to host mega events such as the World Cup or Olympics can be quite specialized with extremely costly operating costs. Many researchers agree that even the most sophisticated and elaborate economic or financial analyses will never make it clear enough if the benefits, whether long- or short-term, will be enough to cover these vast costs (Cornelissen, 2004; Alegi, 2007; Florek, Breitbarth, and Conejo, 2008; Abuzayed 2013). Even in the case of developed nations, these costs may never be fully be met as seen in the case of Greece’s host of the 2004 Olympics which depreciated an estimated $12 billion from the nation’s economy (Woodard, 2004). Greece’s hosting of the Olympics is firmly linked to its recent financial crises.
Interesting links also exist related to stock market reactions and tournament results. Researchers Edmans et al. (2007) found significant declines in the national stock market after losses in World Cup events such as a loss in an elimination stage leading to an abnormal stock return the next day of almost -50 basis points. In even more important games such as the final, the effect of a team’s loss can be even larger.
- Motivations for Spectator Attendance at Football Events
The hundreds of thousands of sports fans that attend World Cup tournaments around the world every four years demonstrates the pervasiveness of the sport of football in society. The psychological and sociological characteristics that govern sporting attendance are explored in the subsequent pages as many in the past have diligently researched these factors. The game of football, or what some may call soccer, is perhaps the most representative sport with a global appeal. The cumulative number of global spectators either in live attendance or through television or internet, of football competitions (whether local, in a league, or mega events such as the World Cup or Olympics), greatly surpasses all other sporting tournaments (Patton, 2002).
Brazil is the country to have won the most World Cups, five total, and is the only team that has played in every tournament. In 1970, after winning the World Cup for a third time, the vigor of the nation’s pride and passion for the sport is truly palpable as expressed in the quote below:
“The current football success has promoted a pride in being Brazilian and a unifying symbol without precedent. Even the lower classes of the cities, thanks to television, felt a sense of participation in something representing [Brazilian] life. They know that Brazil is now internationally significant, not necessarily for reasons of interest to the scholar or public figure, but of importance to the common man. It is estimated that over 700 million soccer fans through the world watched Brazil defeat England and Italy. The Englishman in his pub, the French worker, the German with a Volkswagen all know that Brazil is not just another “large tropical country” but the homeland of the world’s best football and a legend named Pele” (Sanders cited in Elitzen & Sage, 1982, p. 180)
Elitzen and Sage (1982) continue to discuss the transcendence of football beyond social class that served as an opiate to all the “common men” of the world – the relevance of football still holds true today. Many would agree that football has an appeal in all areas of the world that enables those in abject poverty to temporarily or partially forget the harshness of their lives and be so encapsulated by the competition of football (Elitzen and Sage, 1982). Additionally, as was seen in the case of Brazil’s 1970 win, the success of a national team served as a temporary safeguard against sociopolitical tensions that might otherwise disrupt existing order between social classes. These powerful sociocultural factors and motivational forces are now topics of academic study to better understand motivations of spectator attendance.
Theories to explain the sociocultural motivation factors of spectator attendance include: catharsis and aggression, seeking achievement, stress and simulation, entertainment, and community image (Zhang et al. 2001). And the interrelations of these factors have also been investigated to affect spectator motivation (Pease and Zhang, 1996). The most studied theories are those related to achievement-seeking which centralizes on the concepts of sport-fan identification and social effects of a team’s winning or losing. In studies by Beisser (1967) and Wann and Branscombe (1990), the researchers found that individuals will attach themselves to their teams (either because of nationality/geographical context or admiration for a single player) in order to satisfy inherent needs of belonging and identity. Theories related to salubrious-effect explain that sports can offer relief from boredom and theories of stress and simulation are related as they suggest that sports supply a level of stress relief to cope with the difficulties of day-to-day life. In effect, people seek the “eustress” (pleasant stress) of watching their sports team battle out for the win.
In another vein, soccer fans may also be attracted to attend World Cups that break the ground in some way. An excellent case study for this was the first World Cup to be hosted by an African nation, South Africa, in 2010. African nations’ bid for the 2006 World Cup and after losing that year finally won the contest for the 2010 World Cup. For countries or regions that are new to hosting a particular sporting tournament (ie: the World Cup), it may be true that higher levels of attendance can be expected if the country has hosted some other mega event (Cornelissen, 2010). In this way, sports fans may be more comfortable traveling to a foreign country for a sports tournament with the comforting knowledge that it has hosted a large event in the past. However, others will not be dismayed or deterred by the country’s lack of experience hosting that particular event and will be drawn to travel there even if for the sake of a new experience. Many studies in the past have incorporated factors of destination image among others to identify scales of motivation, attendance and participation at sporting events, particularly mega events such as the World Cup.
- Scales of Spectator Motivation
Factors that motivate spectators to participate by watching (on a television, computer, or at an event such as a viewing party) or attending (in physical, live form) sporting events have been studied since the late 1980s in research conducted by Sloan, Bates, Davis and Schweiger (1987) and were continued by researchers such as Wann (1995),), Funk et al. (2001) and Correia and Esteves (2007). Sociological, psychological, and cultural perspectives have all been considered in developing scales of spectator motivation to discern the factors which cause people whether to attend sporting events or not. An important distinction needs to be made between motive and motivation in that motivation includes the interaction between motive (a reason or impetus for taking an action) and a situation which is cognitive in nature (Huang and Hsu, 2009). Thus when referring to motivation later in this paper, the word resembles a cognitive component on one’s attitude (Fishbein 1967).
The first scale presented by Sloan (1989) suggested the SNAPS, “Sports Need for Achievement and Power Scale”, which is derived from five motivations:
- health-giving or salubrious benefits,
- release of stress and provision of stimulation,
- catharsis and/or aggression,
- entertainment, and
- winnings or achievement.
A secondary scale was presented in 1995 by researcher Wann who elaborated on these motivational factors to include:
- drama or eustress
- confidence or self-esteem
- escapism from daily responsibilities
- socializing or affiliation with team, nation, or other group, and
- family responsibilities.
In relation to time length as an engaged fan, researchers Funk et al. (2001) demonstrated the motivational factors of pride within a community and attractiveness of player, team, and sport, dictated the length of time that one would remain a fan. As one would intuitively assume, research team Mahony et al. (2002) verified in a Japan-League study that team achievement and one’s vicarious achievement and attachment to that team were positively correlated to length of time that one remains a fan. A positive relationship between team or sport attachment and attendance frequency was also demonstrated in the study.
- Cultural Differences as a Factor of Motivation
It has widely been accepted that cultural differences play a role in a spectator’s motivation to attend or support tournaments of certain types of sport (Kwon and Trail, 2001; Correia and Estevez 2007; Izzo et al., 2011). When considering international research studies it is important to keep in mind the words of Kotler and Armstrong: “These [international] markets often vary greatly in levels of their economic development, cultures & customs, and buying patterns.” (2004, p. 166). These researchers suggest that cross-cultural studies are much needed to identify the varying factors which pertain specifically to the cultural tendencies which motivate consumers. Recent studies in the past one and a half decades have delved deep into these questions of race and culture as motivational factors affecting attendances. Correia and Estevez (2007) demonstrate that various ethnic and cultural backgrounds among international spectators influence motivation factors of sport attendance and participation. More specifically, researchers Armstrong and Paretto Stratta (2004) revealed an interesting finding in that black sport spectators were more influenced by motivations of entertainment, marketing and special promotions, and social atmosphere than their white counterparts. Thus in any study, culture and ethnicity should be an important factor or consider in explaining spectator motivations.
Perceived separateness of culture may also strongly influence whether or not individuals choose to travel to a host nation whose culture is entirely differently than one’s own. For example, some attendees may or may not be more willing to make a long haul travel to a country unfamiliar to them such as the joint World Cup tournament hosted in Korea and Japan in 2002. Gibson (2006) suggests that underlying concepts of cultural and psychological distance is inherent in the decision-making process. Tourists who seek cultural familiarity may be more reluctant to travel to mega events in countries such as Korea (2002 World Cup) or South Africa (2010 World Cup) because they perceive the culture to be dissimilar to their own cultural heritage in mainland Europe. However, other factors such as their economic wealth, perceived excitement or attractiveness of the host country, or their love for the sport, can override their perceived cultural dissimilarities.
In a separate vein, social class is considered to be only marginally related to sports (Washington and Karin, 2001). This is interesting in light of the pervasiveness of sports appeal across all social classes; however, it is seemingly noted that one’s ability to attend sporting events, especially in far-off locations, may be dictated by economic status. In relation to the World Cup, although soccer fans occupy the entire globe across all levels of social status, only the elite and wealthy few are able to travel outside of their nation of residence to attend World Cup tournaments. Thus, more careful consideration should be given to economic ability through wealth than social class in identifying motivational factors.
2.7 Host Destination Image
An increase in spectator attendance at FFIA World Cups has been realized since the first World Cup in 1930, though numbers have been generally stable since USA 1994, as shown in Figure 1. However, the factors as to why many chose to attend live world cup events over virtual participation is not necessarily well understood. The factors which will be explored related to host destination as a factor of encouraging or deterring attendance are destination image, climate, relative expense/cost of living, perceived attractiveness, culture, and religion.
Figure 1. World Cup final tournaments attendance figures. Data from Associated Press, 2014.
The draw of destination image is universally acknowledge to be important in decision making since one’s perceptions of a place are subjective and will affect the potential visitor’s consequent behavior of choosing whether or not to travel to such a location (Chon 1990; Stabler 1998; Mohan 2010). Destination image in many cases may be the single most important factor in drawing in high or low levels of attendance for FIFA World Cup tournaments. Some attendees may be more drawn to locations that they have never been to before and offer a new experience (ex: South Africa, Brazil) while other attendees may prefer to travel to locations that are near their home residence or locations that are familiar and comfortable (ex: a potential attendee from Europe may be more inclined to go to tournaments in Spain or Germany whereas South American attendees may be more drawn to a World Cup in Brazil, Mexico, or Argentina).
Research into tourism destination image was pioneered by Hunt’s work of 1971 and expanded on by Sternquist and Witter (1985), Gartner and Hunt (1987), Embacher and Buttle (1989), Reilly (1990), Echtner and Ritchie (1991), Fakeye and Crompton (1991), Driscoll et al. (1994), and Gallarza et al. (2000). Their consensus is that the defining characteristic of destination image is some mental impression or perception which is both subjective (between person to person) and comparative (it can be related to many other objects, i.e.: comparing precious years’ World Cup locations). A traveler’s willingness to attend a certain World Cup event is certainly dependent on their subjective perception and thus there can be no definitively defined conceptual base to inform destination image studies.
Multiple models have been tested for determining a site location as an encouraging or deterring factor of attendance; one of which is a multi-attribute model as shown by Milman and Pizam (1995). However, this model has been rendered as unacceptable to do the subjectiveness of perceptions of the multiple attributes of destination image. Another model is to use a scale to rank perceived destination image. Similarly, no common scale has been widely accepted because most studies are unable to establish the reliability or even validity of their scales, thus, shedding doubt on the psychometric properties of the rankings. Another tactic is to proposal a list of variables that incorporates all the multi-faceted aspects of a destination’s image which were classified into distinct dimensions in Mohan’s study (2010).
In this tactic, formerly developed by Beerli and Martin (2004), multiple components of the attractiveness of a destination are incorporated as they are considered to be vital in the decision-making process of choosing whether to travel to a host country’s tournament. This was tested in a variety of studies which demonstrated destination image as an influence of decision-making to travel as well as Kaplanidou and Chang’s survey of the 2004 Olympic Games in Athens. These researchers surveyed over three hundred visitors using destination image terms such as historical attractions, cleanliness, nightlife, and safety which were compiled to demonstrate visitors’ pre and post perceptions of destination image. Attendees’ perceptions were significantly improved in the realm of infrastructure, compelling venue design (attractiveness), and good value after the completion of the Olympic Games. However, for the results relative to the Summer Olympic Games in Beijing in 2008 and the Winter Olympic Games in Turin in 2006, the subjects’ perceptions were significantly different as shown by Kaplanidou (2007). Thus, attendees were not necessarily attached or especially loyal to Beijing as a tourism destination but rather that they would attend the Olympic Games no matter the destination because of their love for the sports. Overall, although destination image certainly plays a vital role in one’s decision-making process to travel or not, it is not the only one.
In one study conducted by Florek, Breitbarth, and Conejo (2008), New Zealand football fans who traveled to the Germany 2006 World Cup, were tracked and surveyed to determine their factors of motivation for attendance and whether their perceptions of Germany were changed by result of attending the football tournament. Methodologies of the study were a “longitudinal” approach rather than a “pre-then-post” approach which used surveys and interviews to derive qualitative and quantitative information from attendees.
The study found that the event of football was the main attractor for attendance and travel rather than team support or attractiveness of destination image. However the results from surveys also indicated a significant improvement of their perceptions of Germany as results of their experience visiting the nation. Respondents admitted Germany to be less expensive, friendlier, and more multi-cultured than they expected.
Softer factors of destination such as climate, religion, and other sociocultural factors also define levels of spectator interest and thus attendance. Because supporters’ perceptions of sports tournaments go beyond the pure experience of attending but also their levels of comfort and enjoyment in the host nations, researchers are often interested in analyzing the outlying factors beyond the game or sport itself. Especially in considering the promotion of a destination for tourism purposes, factors beyond the sport or sport tournament will draw spectators and tourists.
2.8 Background of Qatar
Qatar’s wealth can be primarily attributed to its recent discovery of oil and gas in the nation in the past seventy years. Since then, the country of less than 2.2 million people have reaped tremendous benefits of development and foreign investment leading it to soar quickly to the top as the richest nation (per capita) in the Arab world. Oil and gas make up more than fifty percent of the nation’s GDP enabling citizens to live a life of luxury with a mean GDP per capita of more than $92,500 as of 2011; only second highest to Liechtenstein (Abuzayed, 2013). It also favours low inflation and a low population to benefit from the wealth in natural resources. This financial stability and privilege of resources enable the tiny nation to host a mega event such as the World Cup. However, two hefty obstacles, in terms of natural resources, lie in its way: the paralyzing summer heat and extremely limited water resources. Despite these challenges, it was elected on December 2, 2010 to host the 2022 FIFA World Cup; the smallest country ever to host the tournament. Not only does this nomination bring international media to Qatar but it also opens up to the possibility of economic diversification for the tiny nation (Abuzayed, 2013). From oil and gas to sports, education, and knowledge, hosting the World Cup will attract a wider variety of talent to the nation enabling it to progress further. However, it is important to note Qatar’s limited history in the sport of football. The nation is ranked 95th in the world and the only soccer event it has hosted in the past is the Asian Football Confederation (AFC) Champions League (Madichie, 2013).
For the past five years, Qatar has been tirelessly building and improving its infrastructure to host this mega event. Despite the international criticism regarding human rights issues in the venues’ construction and the issue of summer heat, plans are moving ahead so that the nation is ready to host in 2022. Its plans include nine new stadiums, renovation of three stadiums (an estimated $4 billion cost), a metro and rail network, and a new international airport (estimated $10 billion cost) (Abuzayed, 2013). The country has pledged to address the heat issue by providing air conditioning in all event locations (stadiums, hotels, transport, etc) through solar power. Officials of the tournament have also guaranteed that 90,000 hotel rooms will be built before the tournament’s commencement (The Daily Star, 2013).
Qatar has only one major city (Doha) and the entire country spans a mere 11,437 km2 which is an incredible strain on space for infrastructure which needs to be built. However, given some of these geographic challenges, some football fans may see Qatar’s location in the Middle East as a major attractor as they may not have another reason or excuse to travel to such an under-visited location. Moreover, Qatar is quite accessible from major airports in Europe as one can reach the tiny country in less than a six hour flight from many of the world’s major cities
2.9 Qatari Climate
In the past, all World Cup locations have been suitable, in terms of weather, to host an outdoor soccer tournament and the matter of climate has not been too much of a deterrent for attendance. However, the question of hosting the World Cup in Qatar, located in an arid environment with summer temperatures upwards of 50 degrees Celsius, may leave some fans, and even players, skeptical of its bid. This matter of Qatar’s summer weather has led to discussion of moving the 2022 World Cup to the winter season (Moore, 2013). The factors that will be considered for this change, which is to be finalized in 2015, include the risk of harming players’ health and declines in spectator attendance. According to Qatari World Cup organizers, they are ready to host the World Cup tournament in either summer or winter. Thus it is a matter of FIFA officials to determine whether they will shift the tournament; a decision that could have large positive or negative ramifications.
The main argument in defense of shifting the summer World Cup in Qatar to a winter World Cup is Qatar’s climate. When FIFA conducted a technical study, lead by the Chilean Harold Mayne-Nicholls, of Qatar as a host location for the World Cup, researchers noted its extremely hot temperatures with daily highs greater than 40 degrees Celsius as a potential threat to players (Moore, 2013). One suggestion made was that matches would be played at night; however it should be considered that the average low at night in June is still 27 degrees Celsius. Moreover, midnight kick offs in Qatar are problematic for players as well as for viewers across Europe and Asia. The Qatari World Cup committee has promised air-conditioned venues, hotels, transport systems, fan zones, and training pitches, which is foreseeable given its wealth in oil and gas. However, many are unconvinced that these are practical (either logistically or environmentally) solutions and that a winter World Cup is more desirable.
Given the problems with a summer World Cup in Qatar, some argue that there would still be problems with a winter World Cup; the main obstacle being that the winter seasons is when the European football leagues operate. Although the World Cup lasts only four weeks, the time required for players to prepare and recover extends for a total of two months. Thus a World Cup played in winter would not affect just one European league season but three European league seasons considering time needed for recruitment, training, etc (Moore, 2013). Aditionally, sponsorship issues, players’ contracts, and season-ticket holders would arise.
- Qatari Religion and Culture
Secondary factors which could deter or attract attendees to attend World Cups are issues of religious tolerance in the nation, the level of conservative culture (in regards to alcohol consumption, gender equality, and homosexuality) and lastly, geographic location. One of the bans of Islam is against drinking alcohol. Despite Qatar, and Middle Eastern culture as a whole, being very favorable to guests and deeply rooted in hospitality, its strict religious customs and even intolerance (for example, to Jewish fans in some cases) may be intensely uninviting to some attendees (Dunn, 2014). Islam in the official religion in Qatar which states the [observant] Muslims will not drink alcohol. In fact, there are legal repercussions, whether one is Muslim or a foreigner, for drinking alcohol publicly or being drunk in Qatar as well as other nations (especially in the United Arab Emirates, Saudi Arabia, etc) in the Middle East. And although drinking has been banned in stadiums at previous World Cups, the law in Qatar is so strict that it could be threatening to many attendees who enjoy drinking at sporting events such as the World Cup.
For many, football and the consumption of alcohol are inseparably linked. Some may even admit to the legal implications of their drinking in Qatar (such as being jailed, deported, or in the worst yet possible case, tortured) could severely deter their interest in traveling to the World Cup in Qatar (Varela 2013; Dunn, 2014). Although football attendees should respect the fervour of Qatar’s deeply ingrained history and religion with regards to alcohol, most sports fans would not be so tolerant of cultures different of their own. Many can simply not enjoy a game of football without a beer in hand yet the Qatari government has already determined that the 2022 World Cup will be absent of alcohol. If the World Cup in Qatar is indeed to take place, it will likely be the most sober World Cup the global football community has ever experienced.
In regards to religious intolerance and views on sexuality, several attendees of the 2022 World Cup in Qatar could face discrimination given the nation’s conservative outlook. World Cup attendees or participants who are Jewish or more notably hold an Israeli-passport could encounter difficulties entering the country but more importantly will not be able to observe religious holidays or practice their religion in Qatar as it is outlawed. Additionally, Qatar’s strict laws punish all forms of homosexuality and sex between man and woman before they are legally married. The country has a brutal history of treating homosexuals unjustly. An American tourist visiting Qatar who was gay was tortured by officials in 1995. And just a few years later, migrant workers from the Philippines were arrested and deported for being under suspicion as homosexuals. The response from FIFA president Sepp Blatter which is meant to ‘solve’ the issue during the FIFA World Cup 2022 is that homosexuals should “refrain from sexual activities” while in Qatar (Mondal, 2013).
Citations (new ones)
Plog, S.C., 2002. The Power of Psychographics and the Concept of Venturesomeness. Journal of Travel Research, 40(February), pp.244–251.
Tomlinson, A., 2010. Sport tourism. Available at: http://www.oxfordreference.com/10.1093/acref/9780199213818.001.0001/acref-9780199213818-e-1073.