Tag: sustainable sports event

Fans watching the world cup live


The outlook for this Saturday in Doha is not surprising: sun, blue skies, and 33 to 39 degrees. After all, the weekend, on which there are still exactly 100 days until the Football (Qatar Cup 2022), offers temperatures below the pain threshold of 40 degrees for the first time this week in the weather forecast – which is good news in the desert emirate of Qatar in the summer.

Officially, there has been some good news related to the sun and Qatar in recent months. Although the country of the World Cup host is considered one of the hottest spots on earth, the World Cup in winter should not only be “the best ever” (FIFA boss Gianni Infantino), but also the “most sustainable World Cup”. The more questions there have recently been about human rights, and the difficult situation of workers, women, and LGBTQ people, the more the organizers have used almost every opportunity in recent months to talk about solar energy, sustainability, the reduction of CO2, climate neutrality, and ecological visions. “We will set new standards,” reads a glossy presentation with the headline: “Sustainability has been at the heart of the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022 from the very beginning”.

Presumably the greenest World Cup of all time in Qatar?

The presumably greenest World Cup of all time is to take place in the desert of all places. The only question remains: Are all the good-sounding promises from the pretty brochures of the organizing committee also true? Or in other words, how green is the desert really?

Mohammed Al Alwaan stands in front of his greatest treasure on a hot day in Doha, wipes a bead of sweat from his forehead, and shines with the sun. The project manager of the 974 stadium talks without a dot or comma. For seven minutes and 14 seconds, he talks about the “most sustainable stadium” in the world before taking a short breather for the first time. “Do you really have any questions?” he jokingly asks the journalists who stand in a semicircle around the Qatari in front of the “probably first recycling stadium in the world” and listen.

The concept of the arena, which consists almost exclusively of containers from China that can be reused after the World Cup, is unique, he says. 974 containers based on Qatar’s international area code (+974) – just as many were needed for the record-breaking completion in just one and a half years. In addition, the stadium is around 20 percent cheaper than comparable arenas. “We don’t want to have white elephants at this World Cup,” says Al Alwaan as he explains what will happen to the plug-and-play stadium after the World Cup.

Football World Cup in Qatar: The entire stadium can be dismantled again

There is a whole range of possibilities, says the man, who is dressed in the traditional white robe and the red and white checkered Ghutra on his head. You could dismantle the entire 40,000-spectator stadium after the World Cup and rebuild it elsewhere in the world. You could also make two 20,000-man arenas or even four 10,000-fan stadiums out of it. Or: First of all, you leave it exactly where it is. In the district of Ras Abu Aboud right on the water. “The view is wonderful,” says Al Alwaan.

Despite all the justified criticism of Qatar and the organizers, one must admit that the stadium is indeed a visual highlight. But whether Qatar’s outlook in terms of sustainability is so promising remains questionable even after the lengthy conversation with the proud stadium project manager.

Philipp Sommer – what a fitting name in connection with the Qatar World Cup – from Deutsche Umwelthilfe has his doubts. “I would first ask the question whether it is really necessary to build a stadium for only one purpose,” Sommer said in an interview with Deutsche Welle. It is not really sustainable to build a new arena just for this World Cup, in order to possibly dismantle it again directly after the World Cup.

In Germany, everything is criticized

In Qatar, you know the criticism. And you know that in Germany everything you do before this World Cup is criticized anyway. “We are really making a lot of effort. I am very proud of my country that we are developing so quickly in such a short time,” says Bodour Al Meer, who has taken a seat in the stands of the 974 Stadium. The woman with the black robe and the black hijab is just as enthusiastic about the sustainable stadium, which is the only World Cup arena that largely dispenses with air conditioning for the normal spectators, as project manager Al Alwaan. And just like Al Alwaan, the Director of Sustainability of the World Cup Organizing Committee is latently annoyed by all the critical questions. “Our views are not changing, they have changed for a long time,” says the former environmental manager of Qatar’s oil and gas economy.

Bodour Al Meer speaks in fluent English about new cycling routes through Doha, the visit of Green Minister Robert Habeck (“I can’t expect us to work closely together”), the expansion of solar energy, reusable water bottles for the World Cup volunteers and about the brand new metro across Doha. “My children especially love this metro,” says Al Meer – and sounds a bit like talking about the latest roller coaster on Hamburg Cathedral.


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The driverless metro system: almost like a roller coaster

In fact, you almost feel like you’re on a roller coaster when you use the driverless metro system that went into operation in October 2019. The only difference: You don’t have to worry about long queues on the three lines. Because in addition to the three children of Bodour Al Meer and a few tourists, the noble and air-conditioned commuter train, which even offers the first class of gold, does not seem to have really established itself in Doha yet. At least football fans from all over the world should be looking forward to the metro reaching almost all World Cup arenas in November and December. However, it remains to be seen whether local public transport will continue to be used by the Qataris after the World Cup. Sustainability Director Bodour Al Meer is important to stress that “the metro was not only built for the World Cup – the World Cup only accelerated our plans”.

People in Doha are familiar with fast construction projects. The city is growing at a record pace. Anyone who has visited in the past holidays should already be surprised about new roads, hotels or shopping centers in the next holidays. In Lusail, where the final stadium was also built, a ski hall with a 200-meter slope will soon be inaugurated. And in the Villagio Shopping Mall, you can already skate or play ice hockey despite outside temperatures above 40 degrees.

All these construction projects also ensure that Qatar’s CO2 balance sheet in recent years has been devastating. In 2019, the emirate had the worst CO2 balance sheet worldwide. In 2020, they have climbed a place in the right direction, because the 19,000-inhabitant mini-state of Palau in the Pacific Ocean has an even more serious CO2emission per capita.

Does Qatar want to get a green image with the World Cup?

“I don’t like to talk about it because I don’t think these statistics are entirely fair,” says Metro supporter Al Meer. “But we are trying to reduce our emissions. We do a lot.”

Christian Behrens, a colleague of Sommer’s at Deutsche Umwelthilfe, rather believes that Qatar is doing a lot to get a green image. “In Qatar, they are very much aimed at the concept of climate neutrality – and at the same time everyone knows that something is being created there that is not ecologically sustainable,” the expert told “Sportschau”. “That has the character of greenwashing.”

One million trees have been planted

Greenwashing is always used when companies or institutions try to present themselves as particularly environmentally conscious and environmentally friendly through monetary donations, PR measures, or the like. A Qatar example: Because the organizers promised in their brochures “to measure, reduce and offset all greenhouse gas emissions of the FIFA World Cup 2022”, so-called CO2compensation about one million new trees will be planted.

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But because the weather in Qatar is just like the weather, these trees unfortunately also have to be artificially irrigated. This water would be recycled, says Bodour Al Meer. What she doesn’t say is that the Qataris need ten oversized seawater desalination plants for the recycling process. And these – how could it be otherwise? – consume vast amounts of energy.

After all, you have more than enough energy in Qatar. Both in terms of gas and oil, as well as in the area of great efforts to ensure Infantino’s “best World Cup ever”. A series of promotions are planned this weekend to remind us that there are only 100 days left until the biggest, best, most sustainable, greenest, greatest, and most superduperig World Cup ever. In the three shopping centers Doha Festival City, Place Vendome, and Mall of Qatar there are ticket raffles, gaming offers, and smaller football competitions.

Above all, however, you can escape the heat in air-conditioned malls.

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