DUBAI, United Arab Emirates — Qatar will host the 2022 FIFA World Cup, but soccer is not the only sport played in the Arab country.
From traditional activities to competitions around the world, Qatar has increasingly positioned itself as a host for sports of all kinds.
Here’s a look at some of them:
Qataris enjoy the traditional sports of the Arabian Peninsula, especially falconry. In Doha, the capital of Qatar, there is even a bird hospital in the city’s traditional Souq Waqif square. Falcons are a symbol of the sheikh’s status, as well as a link to Qatar’s Bedouin past. Falcons compete in beauty pageants and races. Camel racing is also popular, with competitions held in the cooler months of late autumn and winter. Cricket is also popular, especially among Indians and other Southeast Asians who make up most of the country’s construction jobs. Note that foreign workers outnumber citizens in the country, with only one Qatari for about every 10 expats.
GLOBAL SPORTS IN SHEIKHDOM
Like other Arab countries in the Gulf, Qatar is increasingly bringing global sporting events to the country. One of the first and longest running is its annual Qatar Open tennis tournament. The Qatar Masters is a European golf tournament. It also hosts the Diamond League in athletics, as well as competitions in beach volleyball, handball, motocross and other sports. The country hosted its first Formula 1 Qatar Grand Prix last year and hosted the Asian Games. The crown, however, is the FIFA World Cup, awarded to Qatar in 2010. Qatar has already hosted the FIFA Club World Cup.
FOOTBALL AND QATAR
Qatari historians believe that football came to the country in 1948 when oil workers arrived after World War II to start production there. The first football team in the country was formed in 1950. The Qatar Football Association, formed in 1960, joined FIFA 10 years later in 1970. His national league began soon after. Today, the Qatar Stars League is the best football league in the country. Twelve teams compete for their championship. Al Sadd Sports Club remains his best club with the most titles won, including last year’s. The competition includes a large number of Qataris, as well as foreign nationals from countries including Algeria, Brazil and Morocco. The clubs are also run by foreign coaches. In terms of major performances, the Qatar national team competed in the 1984 and 1992 Olympics. This year’s tournament will be the first time the World Cup will be played as a host.
Hosting the World Cup has propelled Qatar onto the world sporting stage more than any other event. Qatar will host the 2023 Asian Cup after China gave up hosting rights for the soccer tournament, and will also host the 2030 Asian Games. Doha also has plans for the future. The capital city of Qatar applied twice to participate in the competition for the Summer Games without making it to the list of candidates of the International Olympic Committee. Qatar was considering a bid to host the 2032 summer games, although Brisbane, Australia, had already been selected as the preferred host. That doesn’t mean Qatar will stop trying. However, one thing stands in his way – the heat. In summer, the daily temperature rises above 40 degrees Celsius (104 degrees Fahrenheit) with high humidity. This is why this World Cup is played in November and December to avoid such heat. The IOC prefers to hold the Summer Olympics in July and August, which is likely to knock Qatar out of the competition. However, Doha hosted the 2019 World Athletics Championships in September and October – due to sparse attendance and some athletes collapsing in the heat.
Follow Jon Gambrell on Twitter at www.twitter.com/jongambrellAP.