Amid rising costs and construction delays for the stadiums set to host the 2022 World Cup, Qatari officials have decided to scale back plans for the tournament and use eight stadiums instead of 12.
Ghanim Al Kuwari, the organizing committee’s senior manager for projects, announced the move in a press conference in Doha on Sunday, although he did not offer a specific explanation for the move. The country originally announced plans for 12 stadiums, including nine new playing fields and three refurbishments.
The move will not affect FIFA’s controversial 2010 decision to hold the games in Qatar, marking the first time the sport’s premier event has been held in the Middle East. FIFA regulations require that the host country/countries offer a minimum of eight venues and a maximum of 12.
The last time the World Cup was hosted in eight venues or less was in 1978 in Argentina, when the tournament was played out in six stadiums throughout the country and only included 16 teams. Brazil will host the tournament this summer in 12 venues.
According to a report on Bloomberg.com, Qatar plans to spend more than $200 billion on new infrastructure before hosting the Cup, including $34 billion on a rail and metro system, $7 billion on a port and $17 billion on an airport. The stadiums will cost $4 billion, according to the ministry of business and trade.
Work started later than planned on the country’s metro system and the opening of the new airport is six years behind schedule.