By Onochie Anibeze
Hassan Al-Thawadi must be walking taller than his height today.
He is the Secretary-General of the Supreme Committee for Delivery and Legacy, the committee charged with delivering the 2022 World Cup in Qatar.
Qatar got all the facilities for the World Cup ready more than one year to the kick off of the fiesta. 2022 World Cup is scheduled to start November 21 and end in December 18.
Before now, the committee that coordinated World Cup fiesta in different countries was tagged Local Organising Committee, LOC. Qatar has differed for good reasons. Theirs is not to coordinate the World Cup and fold their arms.
To Qatar, hosting the World Cup serves as one of the transformations to development in various areas, namely infrastructure, tourism and hospitality, trade and industry, promotion of world peace, attracting investments and very importantly promotion of the game of football and it’s universality. Although Qatari government has set up structures and road map for their VISION 2030, the World Cup serves as a fast-rack to it. Qatar will never be the same after the World Cup.
Middle East will never be the same after Qatar 2022. Football will be richer and the world will be better for it. The Supreme Committee plays a major role in facilitating all these. That’s why they have Delivery and Legacy attached to their name. They are to deliver not only the World Cup but also play a big role in facilitating the objectives of the country with regard to development. And the success of the just concluded Fifa Arab Cup in Qatar is a pointer to what awaits the world next year. And that’s why Hassan Al-Thawadi could be walking taller than his height, happy about the success of the Fifa Arab Cup and full of expectations in the delivery of an amazing World Cup that will engender prosperity in the region and promote football culture globally.
There are dimensions to the 2022 World Cup. It’s been made so compact that fans can watch two matches a day. Unique. The trains, at the end of a match in one venue, can get to another before the next match begins. Wonderful. All the stadiums have cooling effects and can also host matches in the heat of summer. With a population of 2.8 million, Qatar may not need all the facilities they are putting in place for the World Cup. Capacity of some of the stadiums will be reduced after the World Cup and the parts donated to developing countries. Generosity.
Qatar 2022 World Cup holds in November and not in June or thereabout that falls within summer. Universality. This is the angle that thrills Suleiman Habuba who was a FIFA Media Officer and worked in that capacity in five World Cups including two senior World Cup in Germany 2006 and South Africa in 2010.
“That it (Qatar 2022 World Cup) will hold in November and not in summer is a concrete proof of the universality of the competition,” Habuba told Vanguard in a telephone interview. He was once Director of Communications in Confederation of African Football, CAF.
Suleiman Habuba is now a consultant on media, hydrocarbons, renewable energy aside other oil and gas businesses in Africa and the Middle East. Football business still runs in his blood and he speaks about the 2022 World Cup with passion. “One of the best things that happened to the World Cup is Fifa taking it to the Middle East after Africa hosted it in 2010, he says. “The name of the competition is World Cup. It is universal. Its for all parts of the world. It’s not meant for only Europe and America.” He certainly was reacting to some misguided criticisms on the 2022 World Cup on the basis of weather, time difference and even geographical location. It’s the first time the World Cup will move to Middle East. The weather can be as high as 43 degrees C at summer in Qatar. It was against this background that Qatar even acquired cooling technology in all the stadiums, ready to host at summer or any other time. The technology cools atmospheric temperature in the stadium. At 19.5 degrees in November, it will be a clement weather for football.
“When a country wins the bid to host World Cup we all have to adjust or adapt to the reality on ground,” Habuba continues. “That’s why it’s the World Cup. In 2010, fans, players, officials and every visitor who was in South Africa had to adjust because the month of June coincides with the Southern winter. Nobody said South Africa should not host because of their weather in June. In USA in 1994 viewers of the World Cup had to adapt to broadcast time because of time difference. There was up to seven to 10 or even 12 hours difference, depending on one’s country. People adapted and enjoyed the World Cup, so why some unfair comments on Qatar? And we are talking about a country that has provided unbelievable facilities.”
Habuba has seen it all in football and can speak authoritatively on the World Cup. He was concerned about the perception in some countries, recalling his experience in his last trip to London last month. He was in a cab and a chat ensued with the driver who expressed reservations about Qatar being awarded the World Cup at the expense of England. Although Habuba educated him that Russia was chosen ahead of England for the 2018 World Cup and not Qatar which was in contention with USA for the 2022 event, he imagined how many people the cab driver must have misled on the hosting of the 2022 World Cup in such a cosmopolitan city as London.
“The world has to accept the universality of the World Cup,” Habuba says, adding “the good thing is that many have come to appreciate this fact and have supported the 2022 World Cup host and are full of expectations.
From 2010 when they launched their bid and won Qatar has not minced words about their preparedness to host a spectacular World Cup. “EXPECT AMAZING was their initial slogan. They were sending a message to the world to expect amazing things if they won the bid. They did and the slogan changed to DELIVER AMAZING.
That they have done with the tremendous infrastructure- stadiums, rail lines, express ways, more hotels they have delivered for the hosting of the event football icon, Ruud Gullit says will be the best World Cup ever. In a chat with Hassan Al Thawadi, this reporter imagined that during the World Cup they may further change their slogan to EXPERIENCE AMAZING. Beaming smiles, he promptly said “you can take that to the bank”.
That was after the successful hosting of the 2019 World Club Cup in Qatar. And in a recent interview which is also on YouTube, he said “We’ll showcase our culture to the world. We’ve hosted many international events and fans who left desired to come back in 2022. We’re truly looking forward to welcoming the world.
Everybody will celebrate and enjoy the World the 2022 World Cup.” Those who watched the just concluded Arab Cup cannot agree less. The atmosphere was electric when Algeria beat Tunisia to win the title with 2 extra time goals at the Al Bayt Stadium.