The $220B World Cup is over. Was it worth it?

As a near-term return on an investment — no. As a marketing campaign — maybe.

Singdhi Sokpo

Congratulations to Argentina, who clinched their first World Cup in penalty kicks to end a thrilling final yesterday.

Qatar’s bill for the event has been widely cited to be $220B+. Bloomberg puts it as high as $300B. Now that it’s over, a classic post-gargantuan-scale-sporting-event question will be raised: Was it worth it?

  • For context, the funding is part of Qatar’s expansive National Vision 2030 plan to become an “advanced society” and global business hub. Hotels, underground transportation, stadiums, and airport infrastructure were already on the docket with or without soccer.

The World Cup was a way to market that development, and Qatar got its name out there with record-breaking viewership. At the same time, much of the conversation highlighted Qatar’s struggles with LGBTQ+ rights, migrant workers, and alcohol. Especially alcohol.

As for a return on investment, organizers hoped the event would provide a $17B boost to their economy, though a recent study found the World Cup doesn’t have a significant effect on a host country’s GDP.

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