The Middle East will play host to its very first World Cup in November 2022, when the world’s biggest soccer tournament comes to Qatar. Never before has such a small country–by size and population–hosted a World Cup. Indeed, this will be Qatar’s first World Cup, period: the national team has never qualified before.
The World Cup should be a great moment for Qatar and the region as a whole. The national teams of Saudi Arabia and Iran have already qualified for the tournament, and the UAE still has a chance of doing so. Yet, it has brought a range of issues to light, from corruption within soccer’s governing body, FIFA, to the rights of migrant laborers building the infrastructure necessary to host the Cup. The tournament has also had ramifications for Qatar’s tenuous relations with its Gulf neighbors.
Panelists Ambassador Susan Ziadeh and Dr. Danyel Reiche will dissect the international dynamics of the World Cup in Qatar: how will the tournament alter relations between Qatar and its Gulf neighbors? Will the Cup influence the country’s global standing? Can Qatar overcome the range of environmental and infrastructural challenges of hosting 32 teams and their fans?
The panel will be moderated by Dr. Graham A. Pitts, visiting professor at the Elliott School of International Affairs.
The Middle East Policy Forum is presented with the generous support of ExxonMobil.
Ambassador Susan L. Ziadeh served for twenty-three years in the U.S. State Department where she most recently served as the acting Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary for Near Eastern Affairs, and the Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for Arabian Peninsula Affairs (2014-2016). She served as the U.S. Ambassador to the State of Qatar from 2011-2014. She held senior leadership positions in Riyadh, Baghdad, and Bahrain as well as postings in Kuwait, Amman and Jerusalem. Ambassador Ziadeh is currently an Adjunct Professor at Georgetown University’s Walsh School of Foreign Service, a non-resident fellow at the Arab Gulf States Institute in Washington, and a member of the Middle East Institute’s Board of Governors.
Dr. Danyel Reiche is a visiting associate professor at Georgetown University Qatar, where he leads a research initiative on the FIFA World Cup 2022. Dr. Reiche published the books Success and Failure of Countries at the Olympic Games and, together with Paul Brannagan, Qatar and the 2022 FIFA World Cup: Politics, Controversy, Change; he co-edited the volumes Sport, Politics and Society in the Middle East (with Tamir Sorek) and Handbook of Sport in the Middle East (with Paul Brannagan).