by Denzil Fernandes
Daijiworld Media Network - Dubai
Dec 3: Surpassing all expectations, Qatar became the first ever Muslim and Arab country to be selected to host the prestigious 2022 FIFA World Cup. At a meeting of FIFA delegates in Zurich on Thursday (Dec. 2, 2010), QATAR was voted beating favourites Australia in the process. Japan, South Korea and United States were the other countries bidding to win the rights to host the tournament in 2022.
Emir of the State of Qatar Sheikh Hamad bin Khalifa Al-Thani (R) and his wife Sheikha Moza bint Nasser Al-Missned (C) receive the World Cup trophy from FIFA President Joseph Blatter after the official announcement that Qatar will host the 2022 World Cup on Dec. 2, 2010 at the FIFA headquarters in Zurich
The FIFA president Sepp Blatter while announcing the host nation went on to say in Zurich, "We go to new lands. Never has the World Cup been in Russia and Eastern Europe, and the Middle East and Arabic world has been waiting for a long time. So I'm a happy president when we talk about the development of football." The tournament was awarded to Qatar, the oil-rich nation in the Persian Gulf, meaning the World Cup will make its inaugural appearance in the Middle East.
Qatar with a population of 1.7 million people out of whom only 300,000 are citizens becomes one of the smallest nation ever to host a World Cup. With an economy that is growing at break neck speed, the FIFA officials were looking at making history while awarding the hosting rights to Qatar. With the 2010 World Cup tournament being a success in South Africa, Blatter’s vision of taking football to another part of the world ensured that the decision was right from every angle.
The new Al-Khor stadium will have a capacity of 45,330 seats. All of the stadiums will be air-conditioned and cooled using solar technology.
The new Al-Shamal stadium will have a capacity of 45,120 seats
The new Al-Wakrah stadium will have a capacity of 45,000 seats
The Al Gharafa stadium, pictured, will be upgraded along with the Al Rayyan stadium if Qatar’s bid is successful. Qatar plans to double the capacity of the Al Gharafa stadium to 45,000 seats.
A view from inside the Al Gharafa stadium
Just as the voting day approached, the canvassing heated up among the teams. Quite interestingly, one of the concerns over hosting the event during the summer in Qatar was the soaring summer temperatures in the Gulf country. Temperatures can reach upto more than 46 centigrade (115 degrees Fahrenheit) in Qatar and there was an overall ‘high’ operational risk rating from the sport’s governing body. Among the bidders to host the World Cup, Qatar was the only country to receive such a ‘risky’rating. However, the Qatari managers assured FIFA and the members that they would build a number of airconditioned stadiums which would be unique with all comfort zones addressed.
“We recognize that concerns have been expressed about climatic conditions in Qatar in the summer months,” the bid’s chief executive officer Hassan Al-Thawadi said in a statement.
“The precautions referred to in the report have already been put in place with our proposed air-cooled solutions for stadiums, training sites, fans zones and other outdoor areas.”
Qatar has already set side at least $50bn to go out of its way to build infrastructure and complete works as it becomes the first Middle East host to stage the World Cup in 2022.
FIFA President Sepp Blatter had earlier said that the Arab world “deserved” to host a World Cup while so many football stars like former Dutch footballer Ronald de Boer, France’s Zidane and Barcelona coach Pep Guardiola have all backed Qatar’s bid to host the World Cup.
The commercial implications of Qatar winning the bid now are manifold. The tiny Gulf state will have 12 years to build 12 new air conditioned stadiums of world class with more than enough hotels for more than 500,000 fanatic football fans. This is apart from an exclusive transport system which will facilitate the movement of all from one place to another. Employment opportunities will rise along with chances to explore new sporting business channels.
In the next twelve months, the business of football will receive a huge boost starting with the commercial value of football increasing by as much as $14bn over the next 12 years according to a new study. The research, by accounting and consulting firm Grant Thornton and commissioned by Qatar 2022, concluded that the Middle East “has massive untapped football development potential.” The main finding was that if the Middle East secures the hosting of the 2022 FIFA World Cup revenue from football related business in the region would grow by $14bn, or 52 percent, by 2022 and by a further $10bn by 2042.
Football match attendances are expected to increase in the region by as much as 13.4 per cent by 2022 to over 30m according to the study. Middle East TV audiences for the FIFA World Cup have grown almost 350 percent since 1986.
Revenue from TV broadcasting rights which are the soul and substance of any mega tournaments cannot be forgotten. There is an expectation of $550m as a result of hosting the tournament in Qatar soley through TV broadcasting. What about revenue from other sources?
Generally speaking, every Gulf nation is crazy about football and the decision to award the FIFA World Cup of 2022 to Qatar will mean that the audiences will rise immensely in every sense of the word. The spin off from the decision will be tremendous as far as Qatar is concerned. Surrounding states are also expected to benefit indirectly.
Qatar 2022 bid president Sheikh Mohammed bin Hamad Al-Thani promised: "We won't let you down. You will be proud of us, proud of the Middle East."
There was no one far more happier than the ruler of Qatar. "Thank you for believing in change," Qatar's emir, Sheikh Hamad bin Khalifa al-Thani, told FIFA officials.
When the news of Qatar’s victory came, all the Gulf nations rejoiced and congratulated the tiny nation that has advanced to be a force to reckon with as far football action is concerned. Quite surprisingly, although there are other bigger Gulf nations around, Qatar quietly and confidently ensured their success with some fine calculations and clinical efficiency to win the rights to host the tournament in 2022.