When it comes to hosting world sporting events it seems as though Qatar is never far from the headlines.
It looks like this will be the case for some time to come – particularly as far as the World Cup is concerned.
Qatar’s World Cup triumph: too early to pass judgement?
The 2022 World Cup continues to be a controversial issue, with debates still ongoing at the top levels of UEFA about whether the tournament should be held in the summer or the winter.
As a keen sports fan, I can’t pretend that this controversy hasn’t escaped my attention and, like millions of other football fans, I’m waiting to see how this plays out.
That said, it’s certainly interesting to observe that despite being cleared by FIFA of any wrong-doing certain voices are still vociferously opposed to the decision.
I don’t intend to get into the politics of the affair and speculate as to why this is. Instead, I want to take the (slightly ambitious) step of looking past the hype and headlines to try and better understand the wider impact and implications of sport on this small nation.
There’s more to sport in Qatar than football
The World Cup may have taken attention away from other major sporting events that have taken place in Qatar and the wider region recently. Though this isn’t to say that that’s all there is to sport in Qatar.
In the 2014/15 season there will be a total of no less than forty-three international tournaments held in the country covering a variety of sports.
The 2006 Asian Games were hosted in Doha and the country has also bid for the 2020 Summer Olympics.
Some will no doubt perceive this as being a case of a wealthy country attempting to extend its soft power by flexing its financial muscle.
However, the fact major Qatari brands have signed sponsorship deals with Europe’s major clubs, such as Barcelona and PSG sends a strong signal about the nation’s social, cultural and economic ambitions.
The potential for Qatar to benefit from the World Cup
Qatar has proved what a positive impact successfully hosting sporting events can have on its reputation throughout the world.
Amidst the furore it’s amazing how easy it is to forget that the World Cup is still eight years away. Almost anything could happen in that time!
It wouldn’t be the first time the viability of the hosts of a major international footballing tournament have been questioned either.
I remember that despite earlier concerns, the 2006 World Cup in South Africa was widely regarded to have been a success.
Though under the spotlight now, if Qatar manages to host as a successful World Cup as it has done consistently with many other major sporting events, it would be difficult to put into words how much the reputation of the country would be enhanced internationally.
James Swallow is Commercial Director of Middle East based PRO Partner Group. PRO Partner Group specialises in providing foreign investors with a seamless and financially efficient means to setting up a profitable corporate presence in the UAE, Qatar and Oman.