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LETTER | Qatar's efforts at hosting the World Cup

LETTER | Qatar will feel proud and privileged to host the football World Cup which will be held from Nov 20 to Dec 18.

Despite all the polemics, controversies, and criticisms the Emirate had to bear, ranging from bribes to the hot weather, since day one when it won the bid in 2010 to host the tournament, the entire organisation and preparation for hosting the World Cup have gone on superbly, well, according to media reports.

The opening and closing ceremonies of this festival of football will be an awe-inspiring colourful spectacle for the global audience.

Based on the expenditure and expertise in preparation for this world cup, it can be expected possibly to be the best World Cup in history.

For Qatar, it was a natural progression towards hosting the World Cup as the Emirate had already been the venue for the Asian Games in 2006, and had hosted other championships.

Eight new stadiums have been built to host the World Cup and the total outlay for the event as well as other incidental expenditure runs into tens of billions of dollars.

The world cup will be a much welcome event for people around the world as it comes after the two-year-long Covid-19 pandemic, which wreaked havoc on mankind. Football was one of the most affected sports.

32 countries will be competing in eight groups in the tournament, and there are no clear favourites unlike in previous years. The titanic battles between soccer powerhouses await television viewers and stadium spectators.

For superstars Christiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi who will be leading Portugal and Argentina respectively, this world cup could be their farewell tournament. It is hoped that no other negative events, natural or man-made around the world, will take away the global focus on the World Cup.

Infrastructure transformation

Qatar has undergone a complete transformation after it won its bid in 2010. Eight new air-conditioned stadiums have been built and new infrastructure constructed to cope with the needs of the world cup and the future needs of the Emirate.

A lot of new hotels have sprung up. Qatar will not be able to recoup even a fraction of its vast expenditure just with the world cup, as the new facilities and infrastructure are for long-term needs.

With these kinds of facilities such as air-conditioned stadiums, Qatar can become the sports capital of the world and permanently host various tournaments and championships such as football, cricket hockey, rugby, badminton, squash, tennis, field and track events, and others.

Qatar can replace last-minute cancellations by any host nation unable to continue to hold the event due to various problems. Qatar can be a replacement at short notice as it has all the facilities.

With few countries interested in hosting mega sports events at present due to the ballooning costs coupled with the socio-economic and political repercussions that accompany it, it will be better to have some permanent tournament venues, and Qatar will be one of the most eligible due to its central position, its facilities, and vast oil and gas revenues.

With the success of hosting the World Cup, Qatar can use its enhanced stature to showcase the Emirate as a preferred tourist destination. International organisations can make Qatar their headquarters because of the diverse advantages.

Qatar can also initiate an annual Global Sports Award for male and female players as well as teams for sports such as football, cricket, badminton, rugby, hockey, squash, tennis, and others.

Many of these sports do not get recognition or exposure on the world stage, and the award can be a boon to these sports.

Allegations, criticisms

A wide array of issues ranging from allegations that bribes were paid to the Fifa member nations to vote for Qatar, human and workers' rights, exploitation of workers, security, the weather, as well as the World Cup schedule clashing with European football league matches were brought up.

However, the Qatari government has allayed and countered most of these criticisms through necessary action and explanation.

One of the most contentious issues was concerning the three to four million foreign workers mostly from South Asia and Africa who slogged hard on construction projects to get the World Cup to be ready in time.

It is estimated from various reports that, from 2010, a few hundred migrant workers died due to workplace accidents, disease, heatstroke, working long hours, and other problems. Thousands more have been injured.

The hard work and efforts of the millions of workers working day and night to cope with the deadline must be recognised and appreciated.

The migrant workers' sacrifice and contributions to the successful hosting of the World Cup 2022 need to be mentioned in the opening address of the World Cup by the Emir or the head of the Qatari government Prime Minister Sheikh Khalid Khalifa Abdulaziz Al Thani, or the president of Fifa Gianni Infantino.

A wave of liberalism is sweeping Saudi Arabia and the Gulf states, and Qatar has relaxed a lot of its conservative traditional rules to ensure that tourists World Cup visitors can enjoy their stay in the emirate.

Security and safety will be a priority to prevent any havoc or tragedy as the recent stampedes in Indonesia and South Korea have shown.

This World Cup holds out the promising prospect of lifting the beautiful game to greater heights, and for the next month, football will be the talk of the world.

Fifa took a risk when it awarded Qatar the right to host the 2022 World Cup, and the Qataris have lived up to expectations in ensuring that everything will be ready for the 32-nation tournament starting Nov 20.

Fifa's innovative spirit and ideas should be appreciated as the next World Cup in 2026 will be co-hosted for the first time by three nations - Canada, USA, and Mexico.

The views expressed here are those of the author/contributor and do not necessarily represent the views of Malaysiakini.

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