Only four hours flight away from more than two billion people, Qatar has already become a hotspot
for teams from all over the world to visit and play football. Whether for training sessions, hosting
high-profile friendly matches, or organising youth tournaments, the Qatar has become a real bridge
between East and West in bringing together the best football players in the world.
The most recent visitors to take part in a Tri-Series tournament, along with the Qatari hosts from Aspire Zone Foundation, were German club Energie Cottbus and South Korea’s Pohang Steelers, Asia’s most successful club. For both clubs, who came from Europe and the Far East of Asia, it was their first time in Qatar. Also, both clubs are from countries that have hosted FIFA World Cup tournaments since the turn of the century; South Korea shared hosting rights with Japan in 2002, and Germany were hosts four years later.
In remarks relayed by the Supreme Committee for Delivery & Legacy (SC) website, Pohang
Steelers’ Vice President Lee Jae Youl described Qatar as: “The centre of the World and a prime
location for a World Cup.”
Reflecting on over a decade ago when his country was host, Lee Jae Youl added: “It’s great
to host a World Cup. Qatar is going to be a great market to exchange cultures especially with
people from Asia. The people who live here will all get together and interest in football will
increase. Football will definitely grow and become part of the culture, as it has back home.”
Felix Selle, assistant coach at Energie Cottbus agreed with his Korean counterpart, saying
that Qatar’s central location in the world was a major advantage: “Football is like a family, people
come together from all over the world and it will be the same here. It can connect people. It’s a
short distance from many places, and many direct flights come to Doha. Qatar should seize the
moment come 2022.”
For the South Koreans, the 2022 FIFA World Cup Qatar will be different than the last three
editions in Brazil, South Africa, and Germany, where South Korean players, coaches, and fans had
to travel half way around the world to get there. In addition, Qatar will host the first ever compact
FIFA World Cup , allowing fans, media and the FIFA Family to watch more than one match in a
single day, while staying in the same accommodation throughout the tournament.
Speaking of training facilities already available in Doha, Selle said he liked what he saw.
He said: “The facilities, the fields, the hotel, the school, and the gym are just perfect. It was simply
perfect for the youth. We had a very good tournament.”
Energie Cottbus participated in three age groups this tournament (born in 2000, 2001, and
2002) and despite disappointing losses on this trip, Selle concluded that it had been a good
tournament and that the team will definitely be back in Qatar.
Meanwhile the South Korean team finished first in every age group by a large margin; a testament
to their reputation as Asia’s most successful club. Commenting on the training facilities in Qatar,
club Vice President Lee Jae Youl said: “It exceeded our expectations. It’s very good.”
This article was republished with permission from the editor and publisher of the Sport Intern, Karl-Heinz Huba.