I pointed out in a previous article that the United Arab Emirates is the new football destination. Qatar bidding for the 2022 World Cup is strengthening this statement. The World Cup has not been held in the middle east yet, but the UAE have successfully organised the FIFA Club World Cup in Abu Dhabi in 2009. Although Qatar and the UAE are two different countries, football is a fantastic (economic) boost for the region.
According to Hassan Al Thawadi, the chief executive of Qatar 2022, he believes that “the success of the World Cup in South Africa lies in overcoming pre-tournament concerns. This should encourage FIFA to visit another new region” why not the Middle East?
Attending the whole tournament on the African Continent, Hassan Al Thawadi said: “The competition had influenced Qatar’s thinking on issues such as accreditation systems, transport and the hosting concept. What we’ve learned from South Africa has enriched our bid. With every new frontier that Fifa crosses, they come to appreciate the positive effects that a World Cup can have. The entire continent was behind South Africa. The Middle East is just the next frontier. The proximity of Qatar to Africa would allow it to “build on the legacy of the 2010 World Cup,” while opening up the Middle East to visiting fans.
The middle east lacks of football tradition, but the region is catching up and catching up fast. By organising World Cup Football events such as the FIFA Club World Cup in Abu Dhabi in 2009 AND 2010, by hosting global clubs to compete in local tournaments, and finally by bidding for the 2022 FIFA World Cup, the tone is clearly set.
Qatar’s World Cup bid team is working to shorten fans travel time in and out of the country. Qatar, only 10,500 square kilometers in size are investing in road infrastructures and in an efficient rail network to allow fans to travel to and from games smoothly.
The United Arab Emirates have a strong luxury sports positioning, be it venues, accomodations, travel and they are keen on sticking to this image. Concerns about the high temperatures have also been addressed. In summer 40-degree temperatures can be easily reached in the country. Plans have been announced for three new stadiums and two upgraded venues, all of which will incorporate innovative cooling technologies.
The planned new stadiums are located in the north of the country with the Al Shamal venue, Al Khorstadium in the north east and Al Wakrah in the south. The two venues set for renovation are Al Rayyan and Al Gharafa, both of which are close to the capital Doha. All the stadiumswould have capacities of over 40,000 for the World Cup, but as crowds of this size cannot be expected for domestic matches, the venues will be modular or semi-modular with a total of 170,000 seats available to be transported elsewhere to help stage major events.
The cooling technology is based on solar power and Qatar is promising a carbon-neutral, environmentally-friendly World Cup with the energy generated on non-match days being fed into the national grid.
Qatar will be the last of the nine bidders for the 2018 or 2022 World Cup to be visited by the Fifa inspection team. The tour is scheduled for September 13-17. The bid team will emphasise on the country’s experience in hosting world class sports events; The 2006 Asian Games, the 2010 world indoor athletics championships, the MotoGP World Championship, the tennis ATP and WTA Tours and many more.
Qatar is one of four members of the Asian Football Confederation bidding to host the 2022 World Cup, the others being Australia, Japan and South Korea, and could benefit from the fact that Mohammed Bin Hammam, a Qatari national and the president of the AFC, is a member of the Fifa executive committee.
The five bidders for the 2018 World Cup, all of which are also in the running for the 2022 event, are England, Russia, Netherlands-Belgium, Spain-Portugal and USA. The hosts of both tournaments will be decided on December 2.