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Hassan al-Thawadi on Worker Welfare, Qatari Goals and the 2022 World Cup

Absolutely. If you look for parallels, look at South Africa during 2010 — you experienced that first African World Cup, you feel that buzz. You land in Joburg or Cape Town and walk the streets and you feel that electricity. It’s the same thing over here: it’s the first World Cup in the Middle East. It’s a once-in-a-lifetime experience, and we’ve always focused on it being a regional World Cup. This is a World Cup beyond Qatar. It’s a cultural experience.

Does the current situation in the region, the blockade of Qatar by some of its neighbors, complicate that idea of making it a regional event?

No. We’ve always taken the simple position that sports is elevated from conflict. This is always a platform to bring people together, and to separate it from any political ideology.

Do you think your neighbors will play along with that?

I can’t speak on their behalf. From our side, we’ve always taken that position. Even today, from our side, everybody’s welcome. I hope that they see reason, and recognize this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for the people of our region. We’re football crazy. I mean, the Middle East, the Arab world, is football crazy, plain and…

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