Economic prognosis of World Cup in Qatar

Photo credits: imago/Ulmer

One month before the whistle for the first match of the football World Cup will be heard, there is no sign of a positive momentum across Europe. In polls, fans even advocate a boycott of the tournament. The kick in the desert threatens to become a fiasco for all the industries and companies that otherwise earn a lot of money with the football festival.

“Our industry does not expect any impetus from this event, you have to look at it very soberly,” says the director of the European Brewers’ Association. “A football World Cup – many fans equate that with summer, sun, beer gardens and barbecue parties.” The industry likes to be surprised by a winter fairy tale, he says. Beside the unusual season for a major football event, there are currently also other concerns. The mix of the energy crisis, rising consumer prices, adjusted consumer behavior, possible developments in the corona pandemic and the question of general acceptance do not really allow for a valid forecast.

Trade is also cautious. Supermarkets and discounters are hoping for some joint football excitement and thus more sales of drinks and snacks. But a summer World Cup with bbq sessions falls flat. And otherwise, Christmas is more in the focus of retailers and customers. Expectations are correspondingly muted. “We assume that the football World Cup will attract less interest than previous major tournaments,“ one marketing director of a big British supermarket chain says. An Aldi spokesperson adds that “we are not planning any campaigns for this year’s World Cup. There will only be a small, very selected range with football motifs.“

While every pub put television and beer benches in front of the door during the World Cup and the whole continent was united in public viewing on warm summer nights, a World Cup of couch potatoes is now threatening. It is doubtful that there are really many fan miles or public viewings during the December weeks. This is shown by the feedback from the sales departments of the breweries.

TV instead of socializing? This is particularly bad for restaurateurs. But they don’t have high expectations anyway, because the winter tournament competes with the Christmas party business. Whereby there is great fear as to whether there will be any business at all in view of inflation and consumer restraint, the renewed threat of corona upheavals and, last but not least, a lack of skilled workers. In any case, the European Hotel and Restaurant Association does not expect the classic automatism of being a natural meeting point for football fans.

The only people for whom a World Cup in front of the TV should be a reason to be happy are the broadcasters. Anyone who is not sitting in the beer garden can consume advertising at home without being distracted. The marketing of the advertising space is going well or even better than planned, confirms the Managing Director at the German ARD: “Demand is brisk,“ he says. “The attraction that emanates from World Cup and live tournaments always has an invigorating effect on the advertising market.“ Due to the small time difference, the majority of the games have advertising relevance. It is assumed that “the first football World Cup in the European winter will build on the successes and earnings of the last World Cup in 2018.“ “I don’t see any company that dares to advertise aggressively with the World Cup,” says a sustainability expert at at a German private bank. According to his analysis, sponsors of the desert World Cup face “a significant reputational risk”. Reports of thousands of guest workers dying during the stadium construction phase could pose a problem for World Cup sponsors. “Sustainability issues have become very important for the capital market. Institutional investors in particular do not want bombs in their portfolios,” according to the banker. If companies appear publicly as partners in ecologically and human rights-problematic events, they could thereby undermine their own sustainability efforts. “Supporting a questionable major event can quickly destroy the clean image of a brand.“ Some companies, such as ING Bank, main sponsor of the Dutch national team, have already announced that they will stay away from the event, citing the human rights situation.

It could be difficult to justify putting the ecological impact of the desert World Cup in a positive light. The official German DFB fan club, for example, has to set up camp in Dubai, 500 kilometers away, due to a lack of hotel capacity in Qatar. The German fans have to travel to the games from there by plane.

The fan as a frequent flyer. Those responsible at Qatar Airways should be happy about that. For the 25-year-old airline, the World Cup is a great opportunity to establish Qatar as a major hub alongside Dubai, says a spokesman. A new airport was specially built for around eleven billion euros. A suspension railway glides through the terminal, a noble airport hotel was opened a week ago. The state airline itself attracts passengers with luxury features such as double beds in business class.

Qatar Airways is offering complete packages for the World Cup. Sales have been going very well recently, according to a press statement by the airline. In fact, there are still tickets available for games played by many European national teams two months before the World Cup. Tickets for three group games including flights and six nights in a premium hotel are available for EUR 10,114. If supporters will be satisfied with a cabin on a cruise ship instead of a hotel room, they can enjoy the World Cup games for 6441 euros. In terms of climate balance, probably the most consistent choice.

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