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How Qatar won the World Cup 2022 3, December 2010

Posted by thegulfblog.com in Qatar.
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Clearly money paid a large role. There is no denying that the two bids with the most financial backing and the worst technical reports won and that their liquidity played, in my view, a large part in this. But this is the way that it goes. They have nothing to apologise for; they simply did what they did better than the other nominees. Yes, it’s hardly an Athenian spirit of fair play, but that is the way that FIFA have set it up.


Qatar is a new, rich and tiny country: a ‘pimple’ on Saudi Arabia as one recent article disparagingly described it. The vast majority of the population are ex-pats of one stripe or another who do the vast majority of the work (obviously enough). Add these facts together with a bit of semi-racial profiling and people simply assumed that the Qatari delegates would set about their work smoking shisha, eating hummus, listening to Fayrouz and walking around with a sack of cash, dolling it out.

However, the new generation of Qataris as exemplified by the bid’s director, are well educated, erudite, intelligent, savvy and successful. The fact that Qatar nearly won in the very first round of voting is a truly staggering testament to the success of their pre-vote diplomacy. Yes, of course, having deep pockets allowed grander promises to be made, but I think that it will have needed far more than that. For example, securing the sole rights to pitch their bid at the Confederations of African Football last year – locking out all other bidders – appears to have been something of a master-stroke.

Not only this but instead of England’s notion of setting up a fund which would be spent on the world’s developing countries football infrastructure, Qatar had whole stadiums to give away: many of their stadiums are modular.

The Middle East

Sepp Blatter, FIFA’s President, is – as we say in the UK – no shrinking violet. He adores the lime-light and equally adores the massive amounts of power that his job offers him.

I honestly think that one of the key factors that won Qatar the World Cup is the notion that it could – no, really – bring ‘peace to the Middle East’. However absurd the notion, however much this ignores manifest facts on the ground, however much Qatar winning the world cup would have been celebrated through gritted teeth throughout the region (i.e. intra-Arab rivalry) I believe that Sepp believes that there is a chance that this could be a catalyst for peace. Perhaps he is right?

One thing I will say is that having a date set over a decade into the future might allow negotiations to pick a point in time; a backdrop.

And Sepp, I think, can see himself going to Stockholm, collecting his Nobel peace prize and dedicating it to the power of football. Sepp is stepping down soon, he wants a legacy and Qatar’s bid with this associated ‘perk’ by some distance offers the greatest possible opportunity for fame and, essentially, immortality.


Russia winning the 2018 World Cup and Qatar the 2022 clearly shows that FIFA are adamant that the World Cup must seek out new areas of the world. The Middle East offers a modest population that already has a keen interest in football, some of whom are exceedingly rich. Moreover, Qatar has exceedingly strong links to the Indian sub-continent and, of course, to the Muslim world at large: this, perhaps, is the key (1 billion+) demographic that FIFA is aiming at.

The bid, stadiums, presentation?

Overall, I think that the presentation in Zürich made no difference whatsoever. England gave what was universally agreed to be the best presentation (including the Prime Minister, the future King and the world’s most famous footballer) and had arguably the best technical report, yet did not make it past the first round. Clearly, by the time of the presentations, all votes had already been decided.

So while Qatar’s presentation was excellent too and their stadiums are stunning, I do not really believe that these contributed significantly.



1. Allon - 16, December 2010

Hello David,
as a journalist whose main themes concern soports, I am quite intrigued by that story. Actually, it was one of the reaons I went searching and found your terrific blog – chapeau!
Having been to Zurich at the time, I must say, I had a slightly different view of the presentations. First, the Qatari presentation was overwhekmung. It is what I also wrote on the next day, after the victory: It was a great twist. The ExCo voters, who did it for all the wrong reasons, were in fact convinced, that they are doing good for the well being of humanity. Realy did. Peace, Liberalism in a problematic region. Fairness. Equality. Future. Life in the desert. The marking of a new world centre. Nobel prize for peace for Sepp. Wow, this is teaching stuff at universities. At the seminar for spin-doctors anyway.
The English presentation has been disappointing, except for a concealed invitation for the prince’s wedding there were no real highlights. A presentation hould have highs and lows, the english one reminded of a summer beach experience: shallow waves kept coming, no thrills. And, they began with the story of a guy from Manchester (so far so good) who’s done well and came up through football (good) only to be told, 2min. 35 sek into the presentation, that youngsters still come to school in Manchester carrying weapons (NOT the right message!).
It might be, that I will do a piece on Qatar and the Sport – and maybe we could be in touch for that? If it’s alright, I’d send you a mail.

thegulfblog.com - 16, December 2010

You are the first person who I have heard did not like the English presentation. I think you’re in the vast minority – not that it matters in any way, shape or form!

Please do drop me an email about your article if you wish – contact details are in about. Cheers

2. Allon - 17, December 2010

Concerning the English presentation – it was indee very ‘British’. So of course many would like it, especially British Journalists, who were calling it perfect before it even finished. The commentator for Channel five, anyway, as he was sitting next to me.
It was very good, don’t get me wrong, but more for fans of “Yes Minister” and understatement than for actual voters. Most of the journalists I’ve looked at during the presentation looked bored or were busy looking at something else. Which you couldn’t say about the Qatari presentation.
What I was actualy aiming at, that not the presentation per se was no good, it was almost faultless – but the bid committee seemed not to have looked into the ‘spin’ and the context. You know, by telling people who vote for future under-the-table deals, that they are realy acting for the wellbeing of humanuty. That sort of stuff.
The Qataris, on the other hand, seemed to have had the best advisors money could get.

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