Qatar’s investment in sport has been frightening

Picture: Dave Thompson/PA Wire.
Picture: Dave Thompson/PA Wire.
0
Have your say

The first time I went to Qatar was in 2001.

I stayed in the Sheraton Doha Resort & Convention Hotel. You could see the hotel from the airport. All you could see was that lit up at night. It is an amazing hotel.

Now when you do the same journey, you can barely see the Sheraton because of all the tall buildings and offices. Everything has completely changed.

They don’t mess around in Qatar. As a country, they are really investing in everything from tourism to sporting facilities.

There are always some big ATP tennis events and golf tournaments held in Qatar every year so you have to take your hat off to them.

Our World Championships are currently taking place in the Qatari capital Doha. There are eight practice courts and the facilities are unbelievable

Aspire, Qatar’s sports academy, is similar to the English Institute of Sport in Sheffield. It is the single best facility I have seen in the world. It is just ridiculous. They have an indoors athletics track, an indoor volley ball complex, glass squash courts and movable football pitches. Yesterday they won the rights to stage the 2019 World Athletics Championships. Qatar’s investment in sport has been frightening.

Mutaz Essa Barshim is one of the best high jumpers in the world and it is only a matter of time before there is a top Qatar squash player.

They have, of course, been awarded the rights to host the 2022 football World Cup, although there has been a lot of talk over whether that was achieved legally. A lot of people have said it should be taken off them but it has to stay there. The whole country is building up to it. There is a buzz around the people. Football is really big in Qatar.

I’ve been to Qatar in the summer and it is incredibly hot. It is in the 40s. They are talking about air conditioned stadiums but I don’t know how the players are going to train.

I’m not sure how it would work if they moved the World Cup to November or another period in the year. That would mess up the football calendar.

The World Cup has got to go everywhere. They have given it to Qatar but FIFA should have sorted out when the tournament would be held before giving it to them. There is some uncertainty with the World Cup but they have got to figure it out and get on with it.