Hardly able to contain his joy, His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Hamad Al-Thani spoke exclusively to FIFA.com after Qatar were announced as FIFA World Cup™ hosts for 2022 in Zurich on 2 December. Weeping on the stage after his country became the first Middle Eastern side to receive the honour of hosting the world’s biggest sporting event, his ecstasy was infectious.
FIFA.com: Your Highness, can you tell us how you’re feeling right now?
Sheikh Mohammed bin Hamad Al-Thani: I’m speechless, but very proud and happy. I’m so proud that the Middle East was recognised by FIFA. We are so privileged to have a tournament like this coming to our region for the first time. It shows the value of FIFA and what it stands for as an organisation. As I promised, we will not let FIFA down. Everything we have promised until now will become a reality.
How important is this decision for your region?
Everyone is celebrating in the Middle East; everyone was behind us since the very beginning. They believed in us the whole way. And I’m so glad FIFA believed in us as well.
In your opinion, what made the difference, what made you win that bid?
What made us different is that we pushed the boundaries; we created new concepts, things which were not conventional but still very possible, very realistic for a country like ours. Therefore we are very proud to represent a new era, a new age for FIFA to look towards the future - the World Cup is for everyone.
What are your expectations for this World Cup, which is still a long way off?
Well… It’s going to be best World Cup ever, 100 per cent guaranteed!
Do you believe this World Cup will have a social impact in the Middle East?
Yes I do. FIFA made the right decision in awarding the World Cup to our country, where it can inspire positive change. Rather than being a World Cup that comes and goes, it will leave a huge legacy for our region. We are very happy that we could convince FIFA that commercially, Qatar is the right choice; that technically Qatar is the right choice; and finally that socially, Qatar is the right choice.