Al Jaber: Middle East united behind 2022
DOHA: Former Saudi Arabian FIFA World Cup™ legend Sami Al Jaber believes that the Qatar 2022 FIFA World Cup ™ represents an outstanding opportunity for the Middle East to unite behind the football tournament, and said that the region has the right to host the world’s greatest football tournament. Al Jaber, who was named a Goodwill Ambassador by the United Nations in 2005, along with players like Zinedine Zidane or Ronaldo, said that the legacy left by the first ever FIFA World Cup™ in the region will be very important for future generations.
“First of all I would like to encourage everyone in the Middle East to unite as one, because we don’t just represent Qatar, we represent the Middle East. It is a region which has the right to host the World Cup and the ability to host the World Cup,” said the Saudi Arabian forward, who represented his country at four consecutive FIFA World Cup™ tournaments from 1994 to 2006.
During his visit to the headquarters of the Supreme Committee for Delivery & Legacy (SC) in Doha, Al Jaber, who was the first bid ambassador for Qatar’s 2022 bid, toured the offices of the technical department and was briefed on the progress on stadiums, expressing his admiration for the progress that has been achieved on the ground.
“We are talking about 750 million people in the Middle East, who are waiting for that moment, waiting for that opportunity, to host the World Cup as one of our rights for the people of the Middle East, the Arab world, and the Gulf. The World Cup is always hosted in Europe and South America, it was also held in Africa. We have never had the opportunity, but now we do with the 2022 World Cup and it’s an important tournament that I hope we can host successfully. I came back today after four years. Back then I saw Qatar 2022 as ideas and a concept, and now I have seen it develop and it is being made into a reality and implemented on the ground.”
Al Jaber was also briefed in detail on the functioning of the cooling technologies which the SC will use to cool stadiums, training pitches and fan zones during the 2022 FIFA World Cup Qatar™. He added that he considered the technologies an important achievement not only for Qatar but for football in general: “During my visit, I was briefed on the details of the cooling technology and I think we need such technology in football, not only in our region, but for any country with the same climate. I remember how we suffered from the heat and climate during the 1994 FIFA World Cup, where the games began at 12:30 and the temperature and humidity affected the performance of our players.”
The Saudi Arabian legend also accompanied Nasser Al Khater, Executive Director of Communications and Marketing at the SC, to meet members of the media and communications team.
Al Jaber said: “I always follow what is published about Qatar, and sometimes what I see and read makes me laugh. I experienced Qatar’s bid since its inception and I know the potential that exists in Qatar. I believe that this campaign will not stop until the tournament, so we must always be ready to face such circumstances and to deal with any problem that may arise in the future.”
Saudi Arabia’s most famous striker, who scored in three FIFA World Cup™ tournaments out of the four in which he participated, said: “the goals recorded by a player at the World Cup have a special taste, they are not added to your record only, but will always be talked about by future generations.”
Looking back at the tournaments in which he took part, he added: “The World Cup in France in 1998 was the most beautiful one I participated in because of the well-organized nature and the substantial interaction with an audience that was passionate about football. For me, what is special about the World Cup is the interaction of the audience, and I think we have a wonderful, loving audience for football in our region that will undoubtedly make the 2022 World Cup an unforgettable event.”