Last year’s World Cup in South Africa, for all of the questions surrounding it (among them labor delays, white elephant stadiums, actual value to the country, etc.) went off without any significant hitches and exposed the world to the beauty and passion of Africa. It was expensive, however, coming in at a total cost of $3.5 billion. In eleven year’s time, Qatar’s World Cup will put the Middle East on the world stage. It will also cost 60 times more than South Africa.
According to ESPN Soccernet – after adding up the cost for air conditioning, new stadium construction, new city construction (that’s right – Qatar plans to create an entirely new city for the World Cup, with a projected population of 200k), a rail line, and facilities to host players and fans, Qatar could spend as much as $220 billion (£138 billion) to host the World Cup.
To put that number in perspective, here are five things valued at/costing $220 billion/£138 billion (give or take a billion):
- The total of all of the home loans in the United Kingdom. Every single one. Sure the market is down, and home prices have fallen everywhere, but that’s still insane. Qatar’s World Cup is going to amount to the same value as every mortgaged home in a nation of 60 million people.
- The total cost of the damage caused by natural disasters in 2005, the year Katrina ravaged New Orleans and Pakistan was hit by a 7.6 magnitude earthquake. 2005 set a record just eclipsed this year, mostly thanks to the devastation in Japan. Qatar will need to spend another $50 billion or so to match the new record. Let’s not put it past them.
- The mobile computer industry. Sales in 2011 for mobile computers – which includes tablets – is expected to come in around $220 billion. Qatar’s World Cup spending could buy every laptop, iPad, PC tablet, and netbook sold in the world this year.
- Bees. According to a study released in 2008, bees are worth $220 billion a year to agriculture. All of agriculture. In the world. By performing a natural function they’ve been doing for millions of years, bees are contributing to the world’s economy the same amount as it costs to put on one soccer tournament in the desert.
- The largest single month budget deficit in American history. In February of 2011, the United States set a new record by racking up a budget deficit of $222 billion. Now you know that one really bad month for the US bottom line is equal to a gaggle of stadiums and the cost to pump AC into them, a brand spanking new city built from scratch, and all the other stuff Qatar plans for 2022.