• Circular Economy
  • Recycling
  • Carbon Emissions

World Cup 2022: More Circularity Than Just the Ball

Jared Feuer
Jan 06, 2023

Guidehouse Insights

While excitement and optimism typically circulate around the field and in the stands of World Cup stadiums, the same cannot be said for the process of building them. Allegations of corruption and unethical practices aside, businesses would do well to recognize a particular aspect of the 2022 FIFA World Cup in Qatar: circularity.

From Linear to Circular

Historically, when stadiums are constructed for events such as the Olympics and the World Cup, they are rarely utilized afterward. The 2022 World Cup saw eight stadiums constructed, costing upwards of $4 billion in total. Now that the tournament has concluded, it is highly unlikely that any of these stadiums will see similar operation due to Qatar’s lack of sports leagues. This scenario is representative of most economies’ linear take-make-waste model. However, FIFA and Qatar decided to do something new and sustainable for this World Cup: implement a more circular model of utilizing soccer stadiums.

Overall, around 170,00 seats will be removed from six of the stadiums to be distributed to other countries within the region, and materials from the detachable upper tiers of those stadiums will be repurposed for community needs. In addition, Lusail Stadium will be revitalized as a community space that will include educational buildings, health clinics, and restaurants. The most interesting construction is Stadium 974, which is “the first temporary venue in FIFA World Cup history.” Built from recycled shipping containers, Stadium 974 will be fully dismantled, and its parts will be shipped to other countries looking to construct stadiums.

Circularity Does Not Guarantee GHG Reductions

While Qatar’s stadium plans are significantly more sustainable than past approaches, inquiries about the carbon emissions from shipping these stadium materials to other countries are relevant. Carbon Market Watch notes that the greenhouse gas (GHG) footprint of constructing and dismantling Stadium 974 depends on “how many times, and how far, the stadium is transported and reassembled.” The construction model for Stadium 974 may be circular, but whether it results in a smaller GHG footprint remains to be seen.

What Businesses Can Learn from FIFA and Qatar

The experience of FIFA in Qatar presents a valuable example of circularity in construction projects. Businesses looking to construct buildings should investigate using materials and equipment that are not carbon intensive and ones with a high recyclability rate. This can present businesses with more opportunities to reduce their carbon footprint, which is becoming a popular demand of stakeholders and investors.

To learn more about circularity, check out a previous Guidehouse Insights’ blog, “A Circular Economy Can Help Businesses Achieve Sustainability Goals.” In addition, companies interested in construction decarbonization can learn more about this market in Guidehouse Insights’ Building Construction Decarbonization report.