Sporting legends from across the Gulf region last night lined up to endorse Qatar 2022 – as state bids to bring the FIFA World Cup to the Middle East for the fist time.
Unveiling five new ambassadors - all legends from Gulf football folklore – Qatar 2022 sought to highlight the sporting prestige of the Middle East and woo FIFA delegates.
Attending the gala event at the Royal Mirage in Dubai, Mansour Muftah (Qatar), Majid Abdullah (Saudi Arabia), Adnan Al Talyani (United Arab Emirates), Abdulaziz Al Anberi (Kuwait) and Nasser Hamdan Al Riyami (Oman), all spoke in support of the bid.
Qatar 2022 chief executive, Hassan Al Thawadi, said: “We are delighted these legendary players, who have brought so many thrills to fans throughout the Gulf over the years, have thrown their support behind the bid.
“This shows the enthusiasm within the local communities of our neighbouring countries for Qatar to bring the World Cup to the Middle East for the first time in 2022.
“A World Cup held in Qatar will leave a shared and lasting legacy for the entire Gulf region.”
The ambassadors are all legends in their own right, while involvement in the Qatar 2022 bid illustrates strong support from across the region.
Mansour Muftah is one of Qatar’s footballing legends, having scored the most goals in the Qatari league with Al Rayyan club for four seasons in the early 1980s.
Also lending his support to the bid is Saudi Arabian superstar Majid Abdullah, known during his glittering career as the ‘Arabian Pele’. Abdullah scored 67 goals in 139 appearances for the national team and was voted the greatest player in the history of football in Saudi Arabia.
Adnan Al Talyani was a member of the UAE squad which qualified for the 1990 FIFA World Cup and was recently voted UAE’s ‘player of the century’.
Kuwaiti hero Abdelaziz Al Anberi played starring roles in Kuwait’s classic team of the early 1980s, which lifted the Asian Cup in 1980 and qualified for the World Cup held in Spain in 1982.
Finally, Nasser Hamdan Al Riyami from Oman is one of the youngest players ever to have worn the shirt of his national team, having made his debut at the age of 14 in 1979.
Al Riyami, despite being the youngest member of the national team, scored on his Gulf Cup debut for Oman in 1982.
Qatar aims to bring the World Cup to the Middle East for the first time in the history of the tournament.
FIFA’s Executive Committee will vote on the locations of the 2018 and 2022 World Cup Finals on December 2nd 2010 in Zurich.