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World Cup Nepal 2034?

Thursday, July 3rd, 2014
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Many are calling the current World Cup the greatest of all time. People are staying up all night or missing work to watch matches due to the outpouring of goals and suspense.

In general, it is quite impossible for Nepal to host this kind of event. The World Cup is hosted in vastly developed or rapidly developing countries. The next upcoming editions are scheduled to be in Russia in 2018 and, as of now, Qatar in 2022. The United States, Germany, and France have been hosts in the past.

The Maracana Stadium in Brazil which is believed to have held 200,00 fans at the World Cup final in the 1950s.

The Maracana Stadium in Brazil which is believed to have held 200,00 fans at the World Cup final in the 1950s.

The cost of hosting a World Cup is astronomical. The Brazilian government spent $14 billion on the current edition of the world’s greatest football event. It’s the highest amount ever to be spent on a World Cup, yet it’s likely that’ll increase over the years.

Even if Nepal had the financial capabilities and infrastructure of Brazil or South Africa, would it still be beneficial to host a World Cup? Their governments are under pressure from its citizens. They believe that the money spent on the World Cup could have been used for schools, hospitals, etc.

These protests are legitimate. The same things could be said for us even if we could never hold a World Cup. If a government can’t provide its people with clean water, electricity, safety and education, then how can it spend billions of dollars on a sporting event?

Geographical circumstance is another limitation holding Nepal back from hosting an event like the World Cup. Although Nepal is significantly larger than Qatar, most of our land couldn’t be used to host a World Cup. Even though Brazil built a stadium in the rainforest, Nepal’s many mountains are great for adventure tourists but unsuitable for stadiums. And many roads in Nepal are too dangerous to travel. Even the roads of Kathmandu are rocky and difficult to get through.

While perfectly usable, the two largest stadiums in Nepal are laughable by World Cup standards. The Dasharatha Rangashala is the biggest stadium in Nepal, and can hold around 25,000 people at best with just 5,000 seats. The Halchowk Stadium holds just 3,500 maximum.  In contrast, the Maracana in Brazil holds over 78,000 seats. During the last World Cup in Brazil in the 1950s, it held almost 200,000 people, however.

But improvements are coming. The National Sports Council (NSC) and the All Nepal Football Association (ANFA) have been receiving more money and support from the government, roads are being widened, and more roads outside the capital are under construction.

The Dasharatha Rangashala Stadium in Tripureshwor with 5,000 seats

The Dasharatha Rangashala Stadium in Tripureshwor with 5,000 seats

The Dasaratha Rangashala is being renovated with a 12-13 crore budget. According to Yuvraj Lama of the NSC, the stadium is being raised to international standards. 12,000-13,000 seats are being added along with a new track, a new roof, and the strengthening of the stadium’s parapet over a 15-month period.

According to various media sources, 15 million Nepali rupees are being spent on the construction of an international stadium in Itahari, and another international stadium being built in Dharan with about the same budget which will include V.I.P. parapet and multiple rooms and entrances to the stadium.

If the Halchowk Stadium is renovated and, despite geographical difficulties, if even more stadiums can be built in Chitwan, Pokhara and Jhapa, the development of athletes and sports fans alike from such an investment would be moving in the right direction for hosting international events.

Again, none of this means we could host a whole World Cup by any means. Nepal has twice hosted the SAFF Championship, so we have a small amount of experience organizing international competitions. But we could co-host a World Cup as a supporting nation with India or China. With continued development, by 2034, it’s at least possible for us to start dreaming about co-hosting.

Sakar Prasain

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