The 2018 Russia World Cup is still two months away, but already the 2022 Qatar World Cup organizing committee is busy traveling globally to promote its event, which has been mired in controversy since the Cup was awarded to the tiny Gulf nation in 2010.
This week, they are in Miami, kicking off a month-long “U.S. Roadshow” led by Qatar’s Ministry of Economy and Commerce. The Qatar-U.S. Economic Forum, held at the Four Seasons Hotel in Brickell, was attended by members of the Supreme Committee for Delivery and Legacy (SC), the Qatar World Cup organizing committee responsible for all the tournament’s infrastructure.
On Saturday and Sunday, from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m., the Qatar U.S. Roadshow will be held at Bayfront Park. The pop-up exhibit, free of charge, will include a full-sized soccer field for fans and celebrity athletes to test their skills, a market with Arabic coffee and Qatari treats, and a cinema showing Qatari films and promotional videos of the eight World Cup stadiums under construction.
Heat player Kelly Olynyk will kick the ball around from noon to 1 p.m. Saturday, followed by Miami Dolphin Kenny Stills from 1 to 2 p.m. On Sunday, Heat player Justise Winslow will be a guest.
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The next few stops on the roadshow are Washington, D.C., Charleston, South Carolina; and Raleigh, North Carolina.
The first World Cup in the Middle East has been hotly debated, and much of the publicity has centered around allegations of bribery, poor treatment of migrant workers, and human rights issues regarding women and homosexuals.
This roadshow aims to highlight positive aspects of the 2022 World Cup, including a safe family-friendly atmosphere with less alcohol consumption than usual; and the proximity of the eight state-of-the art stadiums, which will allow fans to attend more than one match in a day and save money by never having to travel more than 35 miles.
Also, the larger stadiums will be built with removable sections of bleachers, so that 170,000 seats can be donated to under-developed countries after the Cup, and so that Qatar will not be left with giant white elephants, as other World Cup and Olympic hosts have.
The Qatar-U.S. economic forum encouraged stronger economic relations between the nations.
SC’s commercial assurance manager, Mohamed Qassem al-Emadi, said: “The Qatar World Cup not only represents an enormous economic opportunity for Qatar, but also for Qatar’s international trading partners. We are working with businesses from all over the world to prepare for the tournament.
“For example, many of the contracts to build our stadiums sit with international companies, which form joint venture partnerships with local companies to build local capacity and create a sustainable economic legacy. Many of our leading commercial partners are also from the U.S. and there are wealth of opportunities remaining for U.S. businesses to seize.”
Last week, Qatar World Cup organizers announced that migrant workers building stadiums would receive more than $5 million in compensation after recruitment fees were demanded to secure employment. Many of the workers had come from India and Nepal.
The secretary general, Hassan Al Thawadi, said: “All too often, the very people who have left their homes to provide for their families are the ones exploited. We have agreed on a mechanism to ensure that our workers are reimbursed for the hardships they may have endured when coming to Qatar to work.”
The 2022 World Cup is scheduled to be held from Nov. 21-Dec. 18, to avoid Qatar’s intensely hot summer. It is the first time in the tournament’s 86-year history that it is held in the winter. Those dates will conflict with professional leagues around the world, but most plan a season break to accommodate the change.