Football fans should expect outstanding hospitality, a family atmosphere and the chance to attend more than one match per day during Qatar 2022 – the first FIFA World Cup to be held in the Middle East and Arab world.
Those were the messages delivered by HE Hassan al-Thawadi, Secretary General of the Supreme Committee for Delivery & Legacy (SC), during an event to mark the 45th anniversary of bilateral relations between Qatar and Mexico.
Al Thawadi was a special guest during the ‘45 Years of Bilateral Relations Qatar-Mexico’ webinar, which also included contributions from HE Mohamed al-Kuwari, the Qatari Ambassador to Mexico, HE Graciela Gomez, the Mexican Ambassador to Qatar, Mexican Football Federation President Yon de Luisa, SC advisor and former Mexico head coach Bora Milutinovic, and Mexican international Marco Fabian, who recently played for Qatari side Al Sadd. The webinar was moderated by FOX Sports Mexico’s Marion Reimers.
During his opening address, al-Thawadi gave a progress update on tournament preparations and mentioned the CF Monterrey fans who travelled to Qatar for the FIFA Club World Cup, which was held last year.
“The construction of four stadiums has been completed, with four more currently under construction,” said al-Thawadi. “By next year, everything will have been completed. The telecommunications and transportation infrastructure are almost complete. We are entering a very important period where we will be testing all our operations. Last year, we hosted the Club World Cup, where Monterrey played, and this was a golden opportunity to test our plans and procedures.”
Al Thawadi went on to highlight the importance of the tournament’s legacy.
“For us, legacy is critical. This World Cup is a great opportunity to destroy the walls between us and explore what we have in common. That is the power of the World Cup. We want to open the eyes of the world to the culture of the Middle East and Arab world and – at the same time – open our eyes to the outside world. Now it is more important than ever. After overcoming a common enemy – Covid-19 – 2022 will be one of the first opportunities to celebrate humanity.”
The Qatari Ambassador discussed his country’s passion for football – which was stoked even further after the country’s AFC Asian Cup victory in 2019.
“In Qatar, our passion for football runs deep. Winning the Asian Cup demonstrated our love for football and our ability to prepare players for the big stage. In 2022, we want to welcome fans to our homeland and experience this unique event in the Middle East as one big family.”
The Mexican ambassador discussed her nation’s passion for football.
“Every World Cup is an opportunity to celebrate who we are, to resume that pride of being Mexican, not only in Mexico, but wherever we are in the world. In Qatar, we are already looking at preparations to put on a world-class show and to host visitors from anywhere in the world.”
De Luisa compared Qatar 2022 with Mexico’s first hosting opportunity in 1970 – the year he was born.
“I was born in a World Cup year, shortly before kick-off at the Azteca Stadium. Football has evolved profoundly in the last 50 years. That World Cup in Mexico had 16 participants – but there will be 32 in Qatar. The requirements will be different for Qatar – but the focus is the same and that’s to ensure the fans in the stadium and the millions watching from home enjoy an incredible experience.”
Milutinovic, who led Mexico to the quarter-finals of the 1986 FIFA World Cup™, said: “For me it is a dream to be working with Qatar. Qatari people are extremely intelligent and they will carry out this incredible task. It will be great for the people of the Middle East, Africa, Asia, to have a World Cup so close and where they can also see up to two games in one day. I hope that Mexico participates to enjoy the wonderful country that is Qatar.”
Fabian, a CONCACAF Gold Cup and Olympics winner with Mexico, said he had greatly enjoyed his short spell in Qatar.
“It is impressive how they are preparing everything. Not only the stadiums, but also the transportation – the metro is super advanced and makes it easy to get around. Everything is being arranged in an unbeatable way. Despite COVID-19, everything is continuing. It is a great country, I am very grateful to Qatar and I am sure that they are preparing in the best way.”
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