anybody want to play soccer in the desert?

A satellite image of Qatar. Lush soccer fields? Nope. It's a desert!

(Image courtesy of: School of Ocean and Earth Science, Southampton University, http://www.soton.ac.uk/~imw/Qatar-Sabkhas.htm)

I’ve been complaining, grumbling, and preaching from my soap box ever since FIFA announced that Qatar will host the 2022 World Cup. Hans (no doubt sick of my repeated proclamations) told me to write a blog posting (presumably to engage an audience larger than two).  Without further ado:

QATAR? The World Cup? Do you know how hot it gets in Qatar in June? The average high is 106 degrees! Am I upset that FIFA said no to the US as a host? Yes, of course. But my main gripe is the environmental implications of this choice. Qatar is a desert. Wikipedia describes Qatar as “a low, barren plain, covered with sand.”

  • How do you play soccer in a desert? To play soccer in the desert (unless they’ll be playing on sand, which I doubt), Qatar will have to import sod. Lots of sod. They’ll have to make water, lots of water, to hydrate the sod.

Perhaps I am misinformed. Look! Grass does grow in Qatar!

(Image courtesy of: School of Ocean and Earth Science, Southampton University, http://www.soton.ac.uk/~imw/Qatar-Sabkhas.htm)

  • How does a desert nation make water? Reverse osmosis. How does a desert nation run a r/o plant? Why, oil of course. Oh how convenient. Qatar is dripping in oil.
  • How will the players run up and down the field for 90+ minutes without dying of heat stroke? Simple. Air conditioning. Qatar has promised to build “open air air conditioned stadiums.” Yes. You read that correctly. It sounds like an oxymoron but that’s the plan. And how will they run the air conditioning? Oil.
  • Where will the players and fans stay? In hotels. And how will they stay cool? Air conditioning. Powered by…oil.
  • And how will all these people shower in the desert? Aha! Using that r/o water which is made in the r/o plant which is powered by oil.

Let me pause for a minute to let out a scream of frustration.

In a time when climate change and global warming are finally getting some mention in popular culture, this is a giant step backward. FIFA is basically giving the earth the middle finger and for whatever political and economic reasons, they have decided that Qatar, a desert nation, is the best place to hold the biggest international sporting event in the world.

Qatar, apparently, does not have much of an environmental conscience:

“Qatar has the highest per-capita carbon dioxide emissions, at 55.5 metric tons per person in 2005.” And, get this: “Major uses of energy in Qatar include air conditioning, natural gas processing, water desalination and electricity production.” (source: Wikipedia) Can you even imagine how high these figures will rise during the month-long World Cup?

Qatar playing host to the World Cup is akin to Arizona and New Mexico hosting the winter Olympics.

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2 responses to “anybody want to play soccer in the desert?

  1. NPR reported that Qatar’s plan includes having solar-powered, outdoor, air-conditioned stadiums. Crazy I know, but they are planning on cooling the stadiums down.

    Something else I liked about their plan (according to what I heard on NPR), they plan on dismantling the 17 soccer stadiums they’ll have to build for the World Cup when it is over, and distributing them to needy developing countries. Sounds like a good plan to me.

    While it would be fun to have it in the US, so many Americans just don’t care. I fall into the at category. Other than enjoying the glimpses of the soccer plays incredible thighs when they run, soccer has never really interested me. Sorry you’re frustrated though!

    • Okay, at least they’re talking solar, that makes me feel a little better. That’s the first I’ve heard about any concessions (or even thought) to the environment. Hopefully I’ll hear more. And, it’s 12 years away, maybe we’ll learn to drink salt water by then!

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