xi's moments
Home | Middle East

Middle East gets scoring chances with World Cup

By JAN YUMUL in Hong Kong | China Daily | Updated: 2022-11-22 10:25

Arab athletes are championing the FIFA World Cup in Qatar as an event "bigger than soccer itself", scoring a win for Arab traditions and the people of an often misunderstood region.

Qatari hurdler Mariam Mamdouh Farid, who represented her country at the 17th World Athletics Championships in Doha in 2019, told China Daily she is "proud and honored" that the World Cup is happening for the first time in the Middle East, in "an Arab country, a Muslim country". "Qatar has always been a sports hub," she said.

Soccer's showpiece event, which got underway at the weekend, was awarded to Qatar in 2010, taking it to a region far from the usual hosting venues.

"We have hosted the biggest competitions, and leagues from different kinds of sports. I am looking forward to welcoming the world to see our country, our religion, our traditions, how different we are (and) to understand us as well," Farid told China Daily.

"This is not just a game. It's more than that," added the hurdler, who is also the first Qatari sportswoman to partner with German sportswear firm Adidas as one of its brand ambassadors.

High-profile events hosted by Qatar include the 15th Asian Games in 2006, the Asian Football Confederation's 2011 AFC Asian Cup and the 2011 Pan Arab Games. The country is also no stranger to hosting annual sporting events like the Qatar Masters professional golf tournament, the Qatar Classic international squash tournament, the Qatar motorcycle Grand Prix, and the Qatar Open tennis tournament.

Trailblazing event

Saudi Arabian alpine skier Fayik Abdi, the Arab nation's first Winter Olympian who represented the kingdom at the 2022 Winter Olympics in Beijing, said Qatar's hosting of the soccer event "is paving the way in the Middle East, Arab, and the Gulf" for nations to host other big events.

"I don't think this is going to be the first or last time we see a big event in the region. I think it's just the start. And we're all going to learn so much from Qatar hosting the World Cup," Abdi, who is also a board member of the Saudi Olympic & Paralympic Committee, told China Daily.

Abdi said that with Qatar's hosting of the World Cup, along with Saudi Arabia's winning bid to host the 2029 Asian Winter Games, it will "show the world what this region is capable of".

The winter Olympian said he would not be surprised if a Summer Olympics were hosted in the Middle East "within the next 20 years", as they "have the facilities to do it".

Brooke Reid, manager of engagement and activation at Education City Open Space at the Qatar Foundation, told China Daily that she hopes soccer fans will seize the opportunity to meet and interact with the locals.

Abdi said: "It is just such a big event that you could not watch football for four years and still be drawn to the World Cup. I don't think the World Cup is (just) about soccer … the World Cup is bigger than soccer."

Global Edition
Copyright 1995 - . All rights reserved. The content (including but not limited to text, photo, multimedia information, etc) published in this site belongs to China Daily Information Co (CDIC). Without written authorization from CDIC, such content shall not be republished or used in any form. Note: Browsers with 1024*768 or higher resolution are suggested for this site.
License for publishing multimedia online 0108263

Registration Number: 130349