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.
[This decision] shows the value of FIFA and what it stands for as an organisation.
*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.