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What fuels the World Cup?

What fuels the World Cup?


Date published

We’re not going to talk about any of the issues surrounding the current FIFA World Cup in Qatar, that’s been done better elsewhere. But we were interested to notice (courtesy of 7IM) an interesting relationship between geography and economics.

Qatar owes its wealth to fossil fuels (oil and gas) which make up more than 70% of government revenue and more than 60% of the nation’s GDP. When it comes to GDP capita, Qatar is in the top five economies worldwide, with levels of US$85,000 per person compared to a global average of US$21,000.

It’s not just thanks to Qatar that fossil fuels have funded so much of FIFA’s recent work, although their US$220 billion is a spending figure worth noting!

Here are the top five countries in the world in terms of natural gas:

Natural Gas (% of global reserves)
United States6%

Source: 7IM/US Energy Information Administration

Russia hosted the World Cup in 2018. Qatar has 2022. And the United States is joint host in 2026 – along with Canada and Mexico, both with decent oil and gas reserves.

So, with the 2030 and 2034 World Cups still up for grabs, will we see an Iranian or Turkmenistani bid? Well, that might depend on what happens with energy transition. As we move away from fossil fuels, different countries might emerge as the natural resource winners.

Take lithium for example (important in batteries):

Lithium (% of global reserves)

Source: 7IM/US Geological Survey 2022

Perhaps we’re looking at Chile 2030 instead!