FIFA World Cup Qatar CEO tells Dubai summit ‘criticism spurred us on’

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The CEO of FIFA World Cup Qatar told Dubai’s World Government Summit (WGS) on Wednesday that Western criticism only spurred the Gulf country to ensure the mega football tournament was a “huge success.”

Speaking at the session, ‘Hosting Major Events: An Arab Success Story,’ Nasser al-Khater, CEO of the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022, said the criticism began when Qatar won the bid to host the tournament and lasted up until the event kicked off in November 2022.

“We heard criticism… the Western media, we saw a lot of criticism and some western entities wanted the failure… but they did not get what they wanted and we were a huge success.”

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He said the controversy not only spurred Qatar on, but also made “every Arab” want to show that an Arab country could host a successful World Cup.

“The psychological factor played a very important role,” he said.

Qatar hosted the highly-anticipated FIFA World Cup tournament in Doha from November 21 to December 18 – the first time an Arab nation has hosted the global sporting event.

According to Qatar, cumulative attendance reached 3.4 million people and beIN MEDIA GROUP announced that it recorded more than 5.4 billion views throughout the month-long tournament, and 1.1 billion views on its official social media channels.

Addressing the success of the World Cup, al-Khater said this can be credited to the effort of both the country’s leadership and the thousands of volunteers who worked the month-long event.

More than 500,000 requests were submitted to be one of the 20,0000 volunteers at the tournament, he said.

Qatar also “focused on the experience of the fans,” adding that the Gulf’s country’s area – while smaller than previous hosts – played to its advantage as it allowed fans to travel smoothly from match-to-match.

“We wished this World Cup after COVID-19 would go smoothly – and it [did] – we were the first country to bring the fans back into the stadiums.”

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