Qatar’s bold 2022 World Cup bid can prove the world wrong
They continue to say it can’t be done, that Fifa’s decision to award the World Cup to Qatar has heaped ridicule on the sport, and that as 2022 draws closer we will gradually recognise the full extent of the governing body’s mistake.
We’re incessantly reminded about how the searing summer heat will pose a danger to players and fans, about how a nation that has never made it to a World Cup finals -and a country in which one can be arrested for drinking in public -will struggle to welcome the world with open arms. It may be 12 years away but this tournament has already been written off as a failure.
However, by scratching below the surface of Qatar’s bid it becomes easier to understand why it has been so successful in capturing the imaginations of Fifa’s executive committee.
Make no mistake, the Gulf state’s proposal is awash with unconventional ideas and concepts of which many appear to border on the ludicrous. Yet it is difficult not to be captivated by the sheer boldness of their proposal.
Take their now well-publicised solution for combatting Qatar’s extreme climate. All 12 of the tournament’s stadiums will be equipped with solar powered air-cooling technology to ensure the temperature inside the grounds never exceeds 27c.
And just as outlandish are the promises to downscale and dismantle the country’s newly-built stadiums after the tournament. Parts of the arenas will be sent around the world to create up to 22 new stadiums in developing countries. The top tier of seating in the Doha Port stadium, for example, will be whisked away to form another 15,600-seater ground elsewhere.
Clearly, one of the most remarkable pieces of the jigsaw that is Qatar’s bid is its proposed stadiums. Each one is striking in its adventurous and individual design.
The Al-Rayyan Stadium, for example, is to be wrapped in a 25,000 square metre plastic membrane which will be used as a giant television screen showing news and matches. The Al-Gharafa Stadium will feature a facade made up of the colours of the flags of all countries that qualify for the tournament. And the Lusail Iconic Stadium, the proposed 86,000 venue for the final, is being billed as a “landmark structure for the Middle East”.
And then there is the lasting legacy this tournament has vowed to leave behind. “Qatar 2022 is an opportunity for Fifa to use the power of football to help foster greater knowledge and understanding of the Middle East and break down barriers and misconceptions,” reads a line in the bid book. “A World Cup in the Middle East is a huge opportunity for Fifa to help drive the development of football across the region.”
Zinedine Zidane, one of the Qatar bid’s ambassadors, believes a World Cup can help unite a region which is rarely the source of good news. “Football is for everyone,” he said. “What the Middle East is missing is an event like the World Cup. We had it in Africa and now it is time for the Middle East.”
Despite what the naysayers will have you believe, perhaps this tournament really could help lay the foundations for a more peaceful Middle East. “It is very important for us to have faith,” said bid chairman Sheikh Mohammed bin Hamad Al-Thani. “Fifa had faith with South Africa in 2010 and now we must honour the sacred trust that has been given to us.”
‘Expect Amazing’ are the only two words printed on the front cover of the Qatar 2022 bid summary. And it is a bold motto which does well to encapsulate the 40 pages that lie within.