Cost of Qatar World Cup equivalent to 113% of the nation’s GDP – How does it compare to previous tournaments? 

by | Nov 20, 2022

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The latest research by Alliance Fund has revealed that, even when adjusting for inflation, the Qatar 2022 World Cup is not only the most controversial in recent history, but also by far the most expensive where the level of investment required is concerned. 

Alliance Fund analysed data on the cost of every World Cup since Italy in 1990, taking into account the money invested into infrastructure, as well as the cost of building new or updating existing stadiums and adjusting this cost for inflation. They also looked at what this investment cost equates to as a percentage of the host nation’s GDP in the year they hosted the tournament.  

When it comes to commercial property investment, football is a big business, so much so that Alliance Fund has created a fund focussed on secured commercial lending within the English football leagues. However, the level of investment into the Qatar World Cup, far surpasses anything seen across our nation’s domestic set up. 

The figures show that the estimated cost of hosting the Qatar World Cup currently stands at an astonishing £177.826bn, which Alliance Fund estimates will be equivalent to 112.82% of the nation’s annual GDP in 2022. 

To put this into figure perspective, the 2018 World Cup in Russia ranks as the second most expensive, costing the nation £11.252bn, which after adjusting for inflation still only sits at £13.147bn, with Alliance Fund estimating it cost the equivalent of 0.91% of the nation’s GDP. 

The inflation adjusted cost of £8.745bn for Brazil in 2014 makes it the third most expensive World Cup in recent history, followed by South Korea and Japan with a combined cost of £7.767bn in 2022 and then Italy in 1990 (£4.993bn). 

However, when analysing this cost as a percentage of national GDP, it’s the South African World Cup in 2010 that sits behind Qatar and Russia, estimated to have cost the equivalent of 0.86% of the nation’s annual GDP. 

At the other end of the table, the 1994 World Cup came at a cost of just £617.5m for the United States, equating to just 0.01% of the country’s national GDP. 

CEO of Alliance Fund, Iain Crawford, commented: “The choice to hold this year’s tournament in Qatar has caused controversy on numerous fronts and it’s perhaps fair to say that its timing alone has dampened the enthusiasm of many fans. 

“However, when it comes to the sheer level of investment made by a host nation, there’s no denying that Qatar will go down in the record books as the most expensive World Cup in recent history, if not ever. 

The total sum of investment and this investment in relation to the nation’s GDP is far, far higher than any previous tournament and it’s an astronomical sum to have invested to host a major sporting event for just a month.”

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