Will Qatar Be Ready for the World Cup?
When Qatar is ready, then will the world be ready for Qatar?
On Saturday, November 21, 2022, Qatari citizens from around the world are set to line up in the streets of Qatar for the final leg of an extraordinary journey. The World Cup, the first time the Qataris played as an independent nation since 1962, is coming to an end after six years. Yet unlike every other qualifying tournament for the FIFA World Cup, the tournament’s hosts, Qatar, are the ones calling the shots.
Qatar has been an important player in the world of sports for decades. Its government was one of the first to recognize the transformative power of the sport in a multicultural society. The country has long offered its best athletes to the global sporting arena, including a group of athletes who made history when they became the first team to qualify for an Olympic Games. In 1990, two Qatari athletes won gold and bronze medals for Qatar at the Barcelona Games and later, in the same year, Qatar’s national team beat the USA to lift the Olympic gold medal at the Los Angeles Olympics. The country saw Qatari footballers reach the quarterfinals of the World Cup in 2002, and for many years, the country also offered its best athletes to compete in the Summer and Winter Olympics. The Qatari national team would win a gold medal at the Asian Games in the late 1980s, and the Qatar Olympic Committee would win a gold medal at the 1988 Games in Seoul.
But despite a history as a global player, Qatar is now in a transitional phase. The country is undergoing the transformation of a middle power into a big one.
The Qatar National Olympic Committee, which has existed since the 1980s, has struggled to maintain its independence in the face of internal and external pressures in the international sporting arena. Qatar first entered the international sporting arena through its national team, which competed at the Asian Games and the 1992 Barcelona Games. Following the Asian Games, Qatar made its debut at the 1990 FIFA World Cup in Italy and qualified for the 1992 Barcelona Games. But the Qatar Olympic Committee and the government of the country lacked the financial wherewithal to secure the necessary facilities, and the team of the country was forced to compete in a small, one-floor gymnasium in the seaside town of Ras Tanura. Even in this temporary home, the Qatar squad performed exceptionally well, reaching the quarterfinals, losing 5 1/2-0