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On the 2022 World Cup: ’92 training sites’ 22, April 2014

Posted by thegulfblog.com in Qatar.
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qatari world cup

At long last an article on Qatar’s World Cup adventure makes the salient point.

In addition to the stadiums, 92 training sites will be constructed, Al Kuwari said.

This is the key issue with the Qatar 2022 World Cup as far as environmental issues are concerned. Yes, building x amount of stadiums that will potentially be air conditioned is not a particularly ‘green’ thing to do. But each team needs at least two practice pitches, which will also have to be air conditioned to a height of 2 meters, if the event will be in the summer. This is where the egregious nature of the environmental impact will be seen.

Otherwise, I would just briefly note that three top-notch Gulf experts that I’ve spoken to recently have argued that they think the World Cup will not be in Qatar; that for some reason it will be taken away. While their thoughts are always valuable, all I would say is that such a decision probably needs to come from a FIFA expert more than a Gulf expert. If FIFA engages in some Blatter-purge or goes through a rigorous anti-corruption process like the International Olympics Committee did after Salt Lake then there could be issues for Qatar.

Headlines from Euro 2012: lessons for Qatar 10, June 2012

Posted by thegulfblog.com in Qatar.
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Many attention-grabbing headlines have emerged from Euro 2012 thus far. Few have had to do with the football. Similarly, rather than the ball crashing into the back of the net or a player launching himself into a full-blooded block of an opponent’s shot, to my mind, it is this picture that has been by far the most arresting image of the tournament thus far.

After a few days of these headlines, I have drawn the preliminary conclusion from the available evidence that racism and homophobia are unfortunately still indelible in the Ukraine and Poland. I’m not drawing this conclusion from one story, one incident, or one documentary, but there seems to be a pathology of such incident thus far (and the tournament is only a few days old!) that means that my take-away conclusions are that, (1) it was ridiculous that this tournament was given to these countries, (2) I deeply don’t want to visit these places.

I stand ready to be corrected if anyone wants to point out that the eight or nine incidents thus far were merely…umm…coincidence, but either which way, I doubt very much whether this was the message Poland and the Ukraine wanted the world to see by hosting these tournaments.

Qatar in 2022 will have similar problems. No, I’m certainly not suggesting that Qataris will be attacking gay campaigners like in this photo or that Qataris will be at all rude, even, chanting offensive slogans or anything of this nature. But the message that Qatar wants to put across to the world by hosting this tournament will get filtered through the international media who will pick up on some decidedly non-football related stories and run with them.

In the Qatari context, perhaps it will be the police taking away a drunk fan? Or corralling a group of rowdy, intoxicated England fans back into whatever football-drinking pens have been established. Qataris will reply that such incidents take place at every tournament but are not so salaciously splashed across the headlines. They will be right, of course, but being right is not really enough. As a country I think that Qataris will need to develop a tough skin over the coming few years.

Many seemed to be wholly bewildered by the storm of criticism that rang out after they were awarded the World Cup. Much of this was, indeed, unfair but such is life. Hosting the largest sporting tournament on earth is going to put Qatar under the microscope like never before. Qatar and Qataris need to accept this – this is the Faustian bargain that they have made – and hire some PR people to deal with these incidents as and when they occur.

Qatar ‘may be stripped of World Cup’ 30, May 2011

Posted by thegulfblog.com in Qatar.
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Football’s governing body, FIFA, is currently undergoing a painful and acrimonious bout of self-reflection. In the run up to the FIFA Presidential elections the incumbent, Sepp Blatter, was faced by Qatar’s Mohammed Bin Hammam. However, amid an ever widening corruption scandal, Bin Hammam pulled out of the race leaving Blatter unopposed.

Now Blatter is warning that a re-run of the voting for the 2022 World Cup is possible. Thus far it is impossible to say whether a re-run is likely. For sure, many people in the world of football were not amused that the World Cup went to Qatar, a small country with a tiny population, with scorching summers, with no history of football and whose bid comprehensively outspent all others by a significant degree. Thus far there are plenty of accusations of impropriety and corruption, but none have been proven yet. If any are linked directly to Qatar’s successful bid then a re-draw is certainly on the cards.

Being stripped of the World Cup would be catastrophically embarrassing for Qatar and only marginally less so for FIFA. Also that notion that Blatter were to oversee such a re-run having not being indicted in any way, shape or form is absurd too and will – rightly – leave the Qataris feeling wholly and profoundly bitter.


FIFA have called an emergency press conference for tonight though no-one is sure what it’s about…

Qatar spurns opportunity to allay World Cup fears 3, February 2011

Posted by thegulfblog.com in Qatar.
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Japan won a record fourth Asian Cup title in Doha last week with an extra time win against Australia. Unfortunately, for many people this tournament was more about Qatar as a hosting venue than it was about the football in and of itself.

The Asian Cup offered a perfect chance for Qatar to allay the fears of those that had misgivings about the small GCC country being awarded the right to host the 2022 World Cup. Unfortunately, this opportunity was wholly missed and some serious errors will fuel concerns about Qatar’s ability to successfully host the 2022 World Cup.

When Qatar hosted England and Brazil in November 2009 as a showcase for ‘what they could do’ in the long run up to the World Cup decision, it was a minor disaster. Entrance to the stadium was a shambolic affair with enormous queues. Plastic glow-sticks were given to every fan to join in a light display at the start of the match. However, within seconds of the start of the display these glow-sticks turned into mini-missiles being hurled towards the pitch, often clattering into those in the front few rows. At the end of the match chronic transportations problems left thousands of fans stranded around the stadium for hours on end  at the mercy of profiteering taxi drivers.

Things in the Asian Cup did not start much better. Most of the earlier matches were largely empty despite very cheap ticket prices and organisers even resorting to giving away free food and drink to entice people. Even in mostly full matches, such as when Qatar played, there was the somewhat unedifying sight of Qataris streaming out of the ground as soon as their team conceded a goal. Hardly an ethos to warm Qatar to hardy football fans around the world.

Yet far more important than these relatively trivial issues was the debacle at the final. Perhaps through fear that there would be empty seats for the most important game in front of Sepp Blatter, FIFA’s President, and world-wide press scrutiny, people without tickets were simply allowed into the stadium.

This meant that up to 5000 fans with tickets were not allowed in. Considering that the final was between Japan and Australia, this necessarily meant that fans that had travelled quite literally thousands of miles and no doubt paid a small fortune to get to Doha, stay there (hotels are not cheap in Qatar) and then buy a final ticket were left outside behind fences and riot police.

These fans obviously complained and some were reportedly manhandled by the police. The key concern here, as noted by Al Jazeera, is that if the Qatari riot police cannot cope with ‘polite fans with families’ with the most reasonable of requests, one shudders to think what will happen when confronted by the more typical drunken, boisterous football fans.

While it is undeniable that these are crass, elementary and serious errors one must not forget that they are occurring over a decade before Qatar’s most important tournament begins. To say that there is plenty of time for Qatar to implement new procedures is an understatement. Systems can and will be tried and perfected in the coming years that will, no doubt, mean that 2022 goes off without a procedural hitch.

The only lingering concern is to do with the police: their reaction to a simple and unthreatening situation is concerning. Crucially, the Qatari police are used to a great deal more respect than they will get from rowdy football fans. No doubt there are training plans in place; perhaps a ‘busman’s holiday’ to a Manchester or Glasgow derby would be in order?

More generally, Qatari authorities ought to be annoyed with themselves. The Asian Cup was a golden opportunity to show countries angry after the 2022 vote (England et al) that they can host such a successful tournament. Instead, they will now have to endure months if not years of continual sniping based on ample evidence. Still, looking on the bright side, if and when (inshallah) Qatar hosts a successful 2022 World Cup their gloating will be all the more deserved.

Hat hip: Chicago Charlie



Barca’s Guardiola to be Qatar 2022 Ambassador 20, February 2010

Posted by thegulfblog.com in Random.
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Barcelona’s legendary player and current manager Pep Guardiola is to act as an Ambassador for Qatar’s 2022 World Cup bid. Guardiola who played football in Qatar for two years joins Rodger Milla and Frank De Boer in promoting Qatar as the venue for the 2022 games. Whilst Qatar are undoubtedly outsiders for the tournament, their practically unlimited budget means that they cannot be ruled out.

Qatar’s 2022 World Cup video 8, December 2009

Posted by thegulfblog.com in Qatar.
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This beautifully shot video very much highlights the best aspects of Qatar. It couldn’t have been made any better.

The Times on Qatar 2022 17, November 2009

Posted by thegulfblog.com in Qatar.
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There is a (fairly poor) article in The Times of London discussing Qatar’s chances for the 2022 World Cup. The article lurches from quick and obvious notes about Qatar as a country to a good examination of Qatar’s Aspire Sporting Academy. Indeed, if the article were solely about Aspire, then it would be good; as it is, it just meanders around somewhat and fails to answer its opening question. Still, there’s no such thing as bad publicity…

Qatar would admit Israel to 2022 World Cup 11, November 2009

Posted by thegulfblog.com in Israeli-Palestinian Conflict, Qatar, Saudi Arabia.
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Qatar and Israel, as I have discussed recently, have relatively good relations. It is not surprising, therefore, that the executive director of the Qatar 2022 World Cup bid has stated that Qatar would admit the Israeli football team if they were to qualify and Qatar were to host the event.

Such actions will be hailed in some quarters and booed in others. America in particular will be pleased to see that Qatar is still on something of a conciliatory path vis-a-vis Israel. Saudi Arabia, on the other hand, may well add this to the long, pointed and growing list of actions taken by Qatar of which they disapprove.