Kansas City’s dream of playing host to the World Cup was dashed Thursday morning when FIFA, soccer’s world governing body, voted to give the 2022 competition to Qatar.
The USA Bid Committee said in January that Kansas City was one of 18 cities in the running to play host to at least four World Cup games if the U.S. got the 2022 World Cup.
However, FIFA president Sepp Blatter announced in Zurich that the 2018 World Cup was going to Russia, and in 2022, it will be played in Qatar.
While the loss is a big one for soccer fans, who would have seen at least four games at Arrowhead Stadium, it’s even larger for Kansas City’s economy. U.S. organizers believed there would be up to $600 million in economic activity for each host city.
“It would have been an incredible economic engine,” said David Ficklin, who is Sporting Kansas City’s vice president of development and spearheaded Kansas City’s bid. “That’s sort of a tangible benefit. The intangible benefit is getting the name of your city out there, and I think we actually achieved a lot of that.
“Today is bittersweet, but when you watched the U.S. presentation (to FIFA) yesterday and you saw Kansas City’s name flashed up on the screen highlighting one of our watch parties, you can say we achieved some of our goals. We got Kansas City’s name out there worldwide.
“When Kansas City, Missouri's, name was beamed out there across the planet, it was more than we could have hoped for.”
Thursday’s vote was also more than could have been hoped for in the Middle East.
“Thank you for believing in change, for expanding the game and for giving Qatar a chance,” Qatar 2022 chairman, Sheikh Mohammed bin Hamad bin Khalifa Al-Thani said. “You will be proud of us -- and you will be proud of the Middle East. I promise you this.”
Qatar, which also beat out Australia, Japan and South Korea for the 2022 World Cup, is a country about the size of Connecticut and Rhode Island combined. While it is home to fewer than 2 million people, it is the largest exporter of liquefied natural gas in the world and among the wealthiest on the planet.
Temperatures soar to more than 110 degrees in the summer in Qatar, which is located on a peninsula in the Persian Gulf. But it will spend $4 billion to build nine new stadiums and renovate three others. Included in the cost will be a state-of-the art cooling system that Qatar says will be carbon neutral.
All of Qatar’s stadiums would be partly dismantled after the World Cup, and the extra seating will be shipped to developing nations that could use them as smaller stadiums. It will all be done at Qatar’s expense.
The voting for the two World Cups, which was done by FIFA’s executive committee, continued the expansion of the game worldwide, a big goal for Blatter, who pushed for South Africa to play host to this summer’s World Cup.
Russia won out over England and joint bids by Spain/Portugal and Holland/Belgium.
“I have to say thanks to to the Executive Committee of FIFA because for 2018 and 2022 we go to new lands, because the FIFA World Cup has never been in Eastern Europe or the Middle East,” Blatter said. “So, I’m a happy president when we speak of the development of football.”