A month on from the dramatic conclusion in Doha, Goodform’s latest Sports Fan Panel assessed the fans’ voice on the recent FIFA World Cup in Qatar. Whilst the football itself certainly lived up to the reputation of the tournament, for many, it has been impossible to separate this World Cup from the controversies that have been present ever since Qatar were announced hosts. The subsequent rescheduling of the World Cup to the winter period, and the late decision to not sell alcohol at stadiums created further discussion points.
Goodform’s latest Sports Fan Panel Study aimed to capture the fans’ views of the World Cup, identifying the main factors that impacted their overall enjoyment and engagement with the tournament.
The FIFA World Cup 2022 received a rating of 5.5 out of 10. The success of smaller countries throughout the tournament was the main highlight for 61% of the audience. We asked fans on their reasons for not attending the World Cup in person; unsurprisingly, the main reason came down to the expense of attending a major tournament abroad, with 72% of fans in agreement.
Qatar controversies influenced fan opinions
40% of respondents stated that they did not attend the World Cup due to political reasons. The main controversy that came with Qatar hosting the World Cup was the country’s human rights record and treatment of migrant workers, with 62% of fans citing this as their main issue with the tournament, whilst 45% confirmed that this impacted their overall enjoyment. Issues regarding women’s rights were also raised with 57% believing it to be their main issue of the tournament, with LGBTQ rights 52%.
Winter World Cups in the future?
The first ever winter World Cup was always going to have an impact on the overall atmosphere of the tournament, with 45% of football enthusiasts watching matches at home – more than double the number of fans who attended a public setting. However, only 32% of fans believed it to be the wrong time of year, suggesting that a future winter World Cup could be received positively by fans in the future.
Under the influence
Despite Budweiser being an official partner of the Qatar World Cup, a late decision was made to remove the selling or consumption of alcohol at stadiums. Whilst there was some negative reception, our results show that 55% believed that the banning of alcohol would have no effect on their overall enjoyment of the World Cup if they were to attend the tournament.
It has been clear for some time that the FIFA World Cup 2022 was going to raise conversation and debate in areas, like no previous tournament. The rights of workers, women, and the LGBTQ+ community caused concern for fans and influenced how they felt about the Qatar World Cup. These issues are not unique to Qatar and the hope is that the focus on these issues will be beneficial for the hosting of future sporting events.
With over two thirds of the audience not having an issue with the fact that the tournament was held in the winter, Saudi Arabia’s expected official bid for the 2030 FIFA World Cup may have less opposition than first expected. Equally, the removal of alcohol consumption and sales from stadiums had no negative impact for over half of the audience, and it could be argued that overall it had a positive impact on the event experience for families, young children, and women.