Lessons of supply chain resilience behind the biggest sporting spectacle- Qatar FIFA World Cup 22

Qatar successfully hosted the World Cup, much to the surprise of the world, but a big part of this success needs to be attributed to the supply chain resilience that imaginative users and logistics solution providers executed, to make this event a big success.

When the decision to provide the hosting rights to Qatar, for World Cup 2022 was announced 12 years ago, many questions were raised on the capability of the tiny country to manage and host the event successfully.

Qatar had an uphill task of developing the infrastructure necessary to execute the massive event of FIFA World Cup, while managing the sensibilities of a Muslim country within the ambit of the Gulf Co-operation Council (GCC).

Crisis before the run-up to FIFA

Long before the COVID-19 lockdown and the subsequent supply chain breakdown, Qatar faced a similar crisis because of a diplomatic crisis with other members of GCC. This diplomatic issue resulted in a breakdown of existing supply chains with Qatar-registered transport providers (surface and Air) being banned from utilizing the airspace and sea routes shared with GGC members, along with Saudi Arabia blocking Qatar’s only land crossing. This embargo began in June 2017 and was resolved only in Jan 2021. Pandemic and the disruptions caused by it further exacerbated the situation.

So Qatar practically had poor or very expensive access to raw material, food and other necessities to conduct FIFA – an international event, flawlessly.

As a Logistics solutions provider ourselves, we know that supply chain planning and execution played a key role in equipping Qatar to be ready to host this largest sporting spectacle. The logistics team had to come up with alternate cargo routes, identify new suppliers in countries that were still ready to trade with Qatar and ensure that the cargo reached on time to facilitate continuous work – be it construction material, accommodating migrant workers and ensuring a regular supply of food, medicines and other essentials to the experts on ground.

Not enough infrastructure

Back in 2010, the country was ill-equipped to handle a major sporting event like FIFA. The country pledged to develop its regional infrastructure and created a network of world-class highways, rail-links, training facilities, stadiums and hotels.

This was possible only because of reliable supply chain services. The infrastructure development involved a broad range of facilities across all tournament venues. Apart from the construction of stadiums, there was a need for international broadcast centers and fan zones. The key areas where logistics and freight forwarders had to step up were services related to event logistics, venue services, customs brokerage, global freight forwarding, warehousing, and reverse logistics. As the material required was being sourced from multiple locations, it was important to have end to end visibility.

To mitigate these and other last-minute challenges, special economic zones were developed in Qatar that were aimed at increasing the capacity of logistical operations. Qatar’s Supreme Committee for Delivery and Legacy worked closely with all the stakeholders, contractors, sub-contractors, global supply chain services and freight forwarders to ensure seamless transfer of goods.

Multisourcing Effortlessly to create an Experience

Qatar is a small country and has to rely on neighboring countries and trade partners to fulfill many of its basic needs. An event like FIFA World Cup cannot be successful without multi-sourcing and supply-chain localization.

Logistics had to be a part of every operation right from venue logistics to cold-chain logistics and custom clearance to delivery and procurement of merchandise, souvenirs, and food and beverages. As players from around the world might have specific food and diet requirements, a logistics network to source those from the source country had to be developed.

Similarly, to mitigate high temperatures, engineering innovations had to be implemented like solar energy powered air conditioning. To have the right grass that can withstand the pressure and the weather conditions, American grass seed had to be imported. All these parts and seeds came intact and in-time because of timely logistics planning backed by flawless execution.

Post event too, Qatar plans to dismantle Stadium 974 and ship it to countries that need the infrastructure. While the idea is a marvel in sustainable engineering, the implementation will be another feather in the cap of forward-looking supply chain planners and executioners.

Final thoughts

Relying on supply chain specialists, either sector based or service based, can help businesses get a trusted and reliable supply chain network for their business. This will help businesses get the best of facilities and expertise while they focus on their core business.

Supply chain resilience will help businesses withstand any possible economic setback caused by geopolitical situations or otherwise. As Qatar hosts the FIFA World Cup successfully, it is important to remember that it is the supply chain service providers that have won the game to ensure that the country delivers successfully.