Qatar launch "unity" bid to stage 2022 World Cup finals
Qatar have launched their campaign to secure the 2022 World Cup by claiming a successful bid could help to bridge divisions between the Arab and western worlds.
Speaking at the launch ahead of the Emir Cup final, Sheikh Mohammed bin Hamad bin Khalifa Al-Thani, president of Qatar 2022, insisted his country was ready to host the first major global sporting event in the Middle East.
"Qatar 2022 is a bid on behalf of the whole region,'' he said in front of 50,000 fans at the Khalifa International Stadium in Doha.
"The first global sports event in the Middle East provides an opportunity for greater understanding and unity between the Arab and western worlds and can inspire enthusiastic support from football fans young and old across the entire region.''
He added: "The unwavering resolution of the Qatari people and the government - to modernise, to advocate for peace, to build for the future - is like the iron will of an athlete in pursuit of victory.
"Qatar is a land of action and not just promises. It's what makes us the ideal partner to help FIFA establish with certainty that football, and its virtues, is a tool with which a better future can be built.''
Qatar and South Korea are the only countries to have applied to host solely the 2022 tournament. England, Japan, Mexico, the United States, Russia and, as joint bidders, Spain and Portugal, and Belgium and the Netherlands are bidding for 2018 and 2022.
Hassan Al-Thawadi, chief executive of the Qatari bid said: "We are serious about winning the right to host the FIFA World Cup in the Arab world for the first time. We are offering FIFA an incredible event, with a tremendous football legacy, but also a legacy for humanity.
"Qatar 2022 can be a watershed moment.''