Qatar sports on the rise

John Davidson Roar Guru

By John Davidson, John Davidson is a Roar Guru

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    Australia's Andres Quintana charges for the ball during their World Cup qualifier clash against Qatar on Saturday, June 14 at Al Sadd Stadium Doha. AP Photo/STR

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    Defining a nation through sport is a time-honoured tradition. Australia has been doing it for years, so have New Zealand and many others.

    It often gives smaller countries the chance to upset and defeat larger ones, it can build patriotism and national goodwill, and it can inspire a nation’s people to not only dream but dream big.

    It can put a country on the world stage and has many cultural, political, social and wider economic benefits.

    Sport is not the only vehicle to enhance a country’s reputation, but it is a common, peaceful and popular one.

    While Australia might have been doing this for the best part of the past 70 years, the tiny Middle Eastern nation of Qatar has only recently embarked on this path.

    But there is no patience or reticence in its approach. Qatar, the oil-rich country of just under two million people, is desperate to make up for lost time.

    It is hell-bent on becoming a big player in the world of sport and it has the resources to achieve that goal.

    Qatar is now home to the ATP Tennis Tournament Doha, the Commercial Bank Qatar Masters, the FIM Moto Racing World Championships, the FEI Equestrian Global Champions Tour, the WTA Tour Tennis Championships, IAAF Diamond League, the IHF Handball Super Globe, the Tour of Qatar and the FIVB Club World Championships.

    It has failed in hosting bids for the 2020 Summer Olympic Games and the 2017 IAAF World Athletics Championships, but in recent years it has staged the Asian Cup and the IAAF World Indoor Championships.

    It is getting ready for another shot at the Summer Olympic Games.

    In 2014 it will host the FINA Short Course World Championships, in 2015 the IHF Handball World Championships and of course, the jewel in the crown, the 2022 FIFA World Cup.

    Qatar’s capture of the biggest sporting event on the planet still astounds, amazes and enrages many, and so it should.

    How can a country stage a World Cup in oppressive weather conditions, with little infrastructure and no footballing pedigree?

    How can a country with a history of poor sports attendance (see the 2011 Asian Cup and Tour of Qatar crowds) and an alcohol ban host global football’s pride and joy?

    These questions have yet to be answered.

    But if you thought the Qataris would stop with their successful World Cup bid, you would be mistaken.

    They will host the UCI’s Road Cycling World Championships in 2016, and have already bought big clubs in Spain’s Primera Liga and France’s Ligue 1.

    They have established links with the best football club in the world, Barcelona, and are eyeing other European outfits.

    They are expanding their own football league, the Qatar Stars League, which has previously featured top players such as Pep Guardiola and Gabriel Batistuta.

    The national team is currently ranked 104th in the world and have naturalised many players from other countries to play for them, such as the Brazilians Fabio Cesar and Marcone, and the Uruguayan Sebastian Soria.

    Qatar has powerful friends like Nicolas Sarkozy, and as one of the richest countries in the world, it has the finances to buy more power and influence.

    All this comes from a country with no history of sporting excellence or background. You would be hard placed to name a single great Qatari athlete or world champion.

    The country won just two bronze medals at the London Olympics – one in the men’s high jump and one in the men’s skeet shooting.

    The ruling Al Thani family want events like the World Cup to start a legacy in the country, to develop better sportsmen and women, and encourage others to take up sport.

    Part of the masterplan is to produce world-class facilities that will help Qatari athletes reach world sport’s competitive peaks.

    Surely there is also something in the healing power of sport that they hope will project a positive image of the nation, and help keep the constitutional monarchy in power.

    Qatar has already established itself in the media world with the broadcaster Al Jazeera. Sport is next on the agenda, and giant strides have already been made.

    There seems little stopping the Qatari sporting juggernaut, as sport’s amateur links and ideals wither, and professionalism, money and business take centre stage.

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    The Crowd Says (26)

    • December 22nd 2012 @ 7:13am
      Johnno said | December 22nd 2012 @ 7:13am | ! Report

      They have big money too. Rugby they are taking seriously too. Both rugby union and soccer, these type of nations will buy the best players, STH Americans, and Pacific Islanders. Qatar has a star striker who was from Urugay.

    • December 22nd 2012 @ 7:34am
      MV Dave said | December 22nd 2012 @ 7:34am | ! Report

      Still think they may have bitten off more than they can chew in regards to the biggest sporting event on the planet…2022 WC. Happy to be proven wrong…

      • December 22nd 2012 @ 8:33am
        AGO74 said | December 22nd 2012 @ 8:33am | ! Report

        I have no doubt they will do it. If running behind they will just bring in more slave labour from india and south east Asia.

    • Roar Guru

      December 22nd 2012 @ 8:53am
      Fussball ist unser leben said | December 22nd 2012 @ 8:53am | ! Report

      I have grave fears for the health of players, match officials, volunteers assisting fans & fans at the 2022 FIFA WC.

      Will it take a death of a player for FIFA to realise the stupidity of playing the biggest sporting event, during the hottest month, in one of the hottest countries on earth?

      One day, I’m sure, Qatar will win the rights to host the Winter Olympics … I’m not Mayan, but, on that day, I predict the world will end đŸ˜‰

      • December 22nd 2012 @ 9:01am
        Johnno said | December 22nd 2012 @ 9:01am | ! Report

      • December 22nd 2012 @ 9:06am
        Titus said | December 22nd 2012 @ 9:06am | ! Report

        You guys make it sound like air-conditioning stadiums is grossly extravagent and environmentally irresponsible or something.

        • Roar Guru

          December 22nd 2012 @ 9:53am
          Cappuccino said | December 22nd 2012 @ 9:53am | ! Report

          Well, it would take an INCREDIBLE amount of electricity. And it’d be very difficult to keep a structure with a huge open-top roof from loosing all the cool air. So we aren’t making it sound extravagant and irresponsible, it IS extravagant and environmentally irresponsible.

          • December 22nd 2012 @ 12:14pm
            Qantas supports Australian Football said | December 22nd 2012 @ 12:14pm | ! Report

            The architects have abandon the idea of constructing air conditioning stadiums. Stating that the engineering and construction would not work properly and would be too expensive. Have since stated—the architects now favour giant fan tunnels as the new concept to cool the stadiums.

      • December 22nd 2012 @ 9:49am
        jbinnie said | December 22nd 2012 @ 9:49am | ! Report

        Fuss Careful my friend you are using almost word for word the same argument that was put up when they held the World Cup in Mexico in the mddle of summer all those years ago when they had games starting at midday to suit the TV people who were screening worldwide. Come to think of it a Sydney journalist of some standing said the same thing when I wrote we should play or in our summer. No one died. Your pal jb
        (Thanks for your kind wishes,much appreciated jb)

      • December 24th 2012 @ 10:09am
        Jaredsbro said | December 24th 2012 @ 10:09am | ! Report

        Wow I’m actually in agreeance with you Fuss đŸ˜‰ Yet despite the dangers of it, frankly the Middle East probably needs it. And more importantly they won’t have it forever. There’s no possible way they will remain the richest countries per head of population beyond the Petroleum era, so why not do something different?

        In terms of growing the game it’s a real big deal. Aussies are just sore because of losing the chance to host it…which should happen eventually. You don’t want to end up like England building a decade of sport only to lose the greatest jewel in the crown because of the Francophone alliance. And there is always the night game possibility.

      • December 26th 2012 @ 8:32pm
        vinie said | December 26th 2012 @ 8:32pm | ! Report

        Aussies are the biggest whingers in sport, and the posters of this thread prove it all, the main message of this article is how a small nation with alot of ambition and passion to build a nation is using their natural resources to fund this dream, sounds a bit like our country australia,
        Yet all you people whinge about is blah blah blah why is the world cup in Qatar,
        im glad we lost, we dont deserve it, we will have our turn one day, until then lets stop judging the host on its merits,
        australia is just lucky and blessed with land and weather, but its cursed with AFL and NRL which has always held football as a second class sport, and our downfall for still being newbies in the football world in the 21st century.

    • December 22nd 2012 @ 9:07am
      Cameron said | December 22nd 2012 @ 9:07am | ! Report

      But what happens to their sporting masterplan when all the oil runs out?

      • Roar Guru

        December 24th 2012 @ 7:09pm
        Andy_Roo said | December 24th 2012 @ 7:09pm | ! Report

        Qatar and the UAE have inveted an enormous amount of money into making their copuntries tourist destinations. This is their master plan for when the oil money runs out.
        And Sports tourism is a large part of that. As for the world cup and selling tickets it won’t be a problem. Qatar is relatively close to Europe and they can expect huge numbers of football fans to come.
        The only problem I can see for Qatar and the UAE is the ban on alcohol. Perhaps there will be limited amounts available for those special events like the world cup or the olympics.

    • Roar Guru

      December 22nd 2012 @ 9:48am
      Cappuccino said | December 22nd 2012 @ 9:48am | ! Report

      Not only will heat and Qatar’s backwards homophobic and misogynist laws be an issue, but crowd attendances are likely to be the lowest in years. Qatar’s population is around 1.4 million (many of these are not citizens, but rather underpaid Indian workers) and FIFA has stated that a total of 3.3 million tickets will be on sale for 2022. Around 600-700 thousand fans usually travel to a World Cup, leaving us with around 2 million people in Qatar for the 2022 event. That means that every single man, woman and child, as well as all the underpaid foreign workers, will have to attend at least one game, and many will have to attend at least two, in order for most of the 3.3 million tickets to sell. Typically, around 97% of tickets sell at a World Cup- I really can’t see that happening in 2022, especially when Asian Cup 2011 had the lowest average crowd in since the 1990s.

      • December 22nd 2012 @ 10:45am
        Kylesy Sky Blues Fan said | December 22nd 2012 @ 10:45am | ! Report

        Fifa don’t care about that – what’s wrong with you! They only care that Qa$ar are funneling big dollars into their personal accounts for doing diddly!

        • Roar Guru

          December 22nd 2012 @ 12:18pm
          Cappuccino said | December 22nd 2012 @ 12:18pm | ! Report

          Ha, true $epp and co. can find ways other than ticketing to make money. But seriously, they should be worried. It’s going to look really bad when Slovenia is playing Honduras in some group stage match and the stadium’s 3/4 empty.

      • December 22nd 2012 @ 11:25am
        Brick Tamlin of the Pants Party said | December 22nd 2012 @ 11:25am | ! Report

        They are very fickle as well,i remember when Qatar were losing in the first game of the Asian Cup and half the stadium walked out.

    • December 22nd 2012 @ 10:20am
      Bondy. said | December 22nd 2012 @ 10:20am | ! Report

      Mid west aisia wants to be a serious player in world sports not only football . She the nation see’s herself as the new modern frontier of global sports and will do anything to get major events there .

      The emir of Qatar “seen on stage for the world cup ” is as powerful as the queen of england most people here in AUS dont realise that and has all the heads of world affairs at he’s disposal and my head of state supports Footscray.

      Also off topic I dont like these double headered friday night games,we only have five and they play two on the same evening,i’ll work it out one day.

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