In December, Qatar played host to the FIFA Club World Cup 2019. The tournament, used as a key preparation event for the 2022 FIFA World Cup was considered a great success, as Liverpool FC of England were crowned world champions for the first time in their illustrious history.
The Supreme Committee for Delivery & Legacy (SC) invited many of the game’s most well-known names to attend the event as guests, and during an action-packed three-day itinerary, took the opportunity to showcase the country and its offering to its guests.
Here is what they had to say about their experiences…
“First of all I was very pleasantly surprised with the weather. We heard lots of things about how it will be too hot, but the weather is amazing – around 24 or 25 degrees during the day, and 17 or 18 in the night; this is perfect weather to play football. You can feel it is the right time to host a World Cup here.
“We’re having an unbelievable experience here in Qatar, alongside great names like Iker Casillas, Ronald Karembeu, Ronald de Boer – it’s been wonderful to share this time with them and I hope I can be back many times over the next few years. I have absolutely no doubt that Qatar’s World Cup will be a successful one.”
“It’s been amazing. I’m very fortunate in that I’ve been travelling to Qatar since 2008 and I have a really strong relationship with the country’s football entities throughout these years; from the FA to the academies and grassroots – and also being an AFC player playing in this region.
“We’ve done so much in our time here, but it’s not just about coming here, having a good time and then sharing it with the world. It’s also about making sure we learn and understand what it takes to host this World Cup and what this region is doing. I’ve been really impressed, but also been very keen to take notes and understand everything so I can form my view holistically on what I feel about a World Cup coming to Qatar. I leave here certain that it will be a resounding success.”
“There’s an opportunity now to use the World Cup to boost the region at all levels with empowerment, legacy and sustainability, bringing people together, changing mindsets and perceptions, and showing a different image to the Arab world. There’s a lot of prejudice and stereotypes in general and football will help change that. It’s important as human beings to be open minded. We grew up with stereotypes and it takes open minds to change that.
“Football can make a difference and the world should understand that you need to experience things and then share your experiences rather than just make judgements and assumptions without knowing what it’s all about.”
Ronald de Boer
“I first came in 2004, they were already at that time very ambitious. They already had the 2030 National Vision, but we know now that was just the beginning. I remember coming here with very few buildings, there was no West Bay. So I was here in the very early days of what we see now. It’s impressive what they have achieved in that period of time. Whenever I come back I see incredible progress – the roads, the infrastructure, the entertainment and cultural offerings; everything is changing for the good of Qatar.
“The compact World Cup will also be an incredible thing. It will feel like a village atmosphere – everyone here will have a football heart, a shared interest and I am 100 percent sure this festival feeling will be special. You will feel that there is a tournament going on, which with no disrespect to previous tournaments hasn’t always been the case because the venues are so spread out. But here, in 2022, it will be everywhere you look.”
“It’s not my first time here, but my most recent experience in Qatar has been wonderful. Many things change every time I come back here and there is so much progress everywhere you look. This trip has been even more special as we had the opportunity to really see the country and to travel outside of the city, to the desert, the beaches, the boats. It’s been a tremendous and beautiful experience.
“I’m certain people coming here in 2022 will be very pleasantly surprised with what the country has to offer – for players and fans.”
“One aspect of this World Cup that particularly excites me is that I genuinely feel it will open the world’s eyes to an area that is often misunderstood. It will open people’s eyes to see how similar we all are, and how we all share one common passion.
“Regardless of backgrounds – once you get here you’ll find that football is the common ground and a universal language. That’s the beauty of the World Cup, and I’ll always support it being taken to new parts of the world.”
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