This page uses content from Wikipedia and is licensed under CC BY-SA.

Sport in Qatar

Sport in Qatar is primarily centered on football in terms in participation and spectators. Additionally, athletics, basketball, handball, volleyball, camel racing, horse racing, cricket and swimming are also widely practiced.[1] There are currently 11 multi-sports clubs in the country, and 7 single-sports clubs.[1]

The largest sporting event hosted in Qatar was the 2006 Asian Games, hosted in Doha. There were 46 disciplines from 39 events contested. On 2 December 2010, Qatar won the rights to host the 2022 FIFA World Cup, thus becoming the first Arab nation to host the tournament.[2]

Two weeks after stripping San Diego as the host of the first World Beach Games, the Association of National Olympic Committees on 14 June 2019 gave Qatar the honour to host the event. ANOC said “Qatar boasts spectacular oceanfront locations and is ready to provide the perfect setting.”[3] The 2019 World Beach Games will be held from October 12 to 16.[4]


Football is by far the most popular sport in Qatar, and is played and supported by locals and expatriates alike. The country has two tiers of domestic professional football leagues. The top tier, known as the Qatar Stars League, has undergone numerous expansions in the last several years. In 2009, the league expanded from ten to twelve clubs,[5] and again expanded by two clubs in May 2013, bringing the total number of teams in the first division to fourteen.[6] Attendance at QSL matches ranges between 2,000 and 10,000, depending on the popularity of the teams.[7] In a 2014 survey conducted by Qatari government ministries and departments, 65% of the 1,079 respondents indicated that they did not attend a football match in the previous league season.[8]

Al Sadd is the most successful sports club in the country, and have won the continental club competition on two separate occasions. Former Real Madrid and Spain striker Raul Gonzalez played for Al Sadd between 2012 and 2014, and in July 2015 the club announced the signing of former FC Barcelona and Spain playmaker Xavi.[9][10] In May 2019, Xavi was appointed the head coach of the club following his retirement at the end of the 2018-19 season.[11]

Other famous footballers to play in Qatar include: Pep Guardiola, Gabriel Batistuta, Fernando Hierro, and Ronald de Boer.[12]

The Qatari national football team's greatest footballing accolade has been winning the Gulf Cup three times, first in 1992, and again in 2004 and 2015.[13] The youth team also reached the final of the 1981 FIFA World Youth Championship, where they lost 4-0 to West Germany in the final.[14]

Qatar hosted the AFC Asian Cup in 1988 and 2011.[15] It has also hosted the Gulf Cup three times, winning the cup twice.[13]

Qatar won the 2019 AFC Asian Cup on February 1, 2019, after defeating Japan by 3-1 in the finals at Abu Dhabi.[16][17]

In June 2019, FIFA awarded Qatar the rights to host the 2019 FIFA Club World Cup and 2020 FIFA Club World Cup.[18]

2022 FIFA World Cup

Russia handing over the symbolic relay baton for the hosting rights of the 2022 FIFA World Cup to Qatar in June 2018

On 2 December 2010, Qatar won their bid to host the 2022 FIFA World Cup.[2] Beating rival bids from Australia, the United States, South Korea, and Japan, FIFA stated that the Qatari bid ran on a platform of bringing the World Cup to the only part of the world previously excluded from hosting it, donating parts of stadia to under-developed countries in Africa and Asia after the competition finishes, and giving fans the opportunity to watch multiple matches in one day and reduce travel expenses by being the most compact tournament to date.[19]

The local organising committee, the Supreme Committee for Development and Legacy, is planning to build nine new stadiums and expand three existing stadiums for this event. The first stadium to be completed will be the Khalifa International Stadium, due in 2016.[20] Qatar's winning bid for the 2022 World Cup was greeted enthusiastically in the Arab world as it was the first time a country in the Middle East or North Africa had been selected to host the tournament.

The tournament is expected to generate thousands of jobs, with extensive infrastructure required to prepare the country to host the world's biggest sports games. Official Qatari sources have estimated that the country will spend US$138 billion, which will include new motorways, a new deep water port, a metro system as well as nine stadia and an extensive fan zone.[21]

As of summer 2015, major contracts have been awarded to a number of international companies, including Foster and Partners, WS Atkins, Arup Associates, and Pascall+Watson.[22]

In addition to the awarding of contracts to international companies, the Supreme Committee announced its intention to support entrepreneurs and SMEs in the region through the Challenge 22 competition. Held for the first time in June 2015, the competition requires anyone inhabiting a GCC country to submit a business plan. Finalists are invited to Doha for two days of intense coaching, before pitching to judges and winning cash and incubation prizes.[23]

2022 FIFA World Cup Emblem

To deliver these projects on time the economy and population are expected to double between 2014 and 2022, with the total number of inhabitants due to exceed four million. The need for new housing has given a boost to the construction and real estate sectors, with growth expected to be 9.5 percent according to the Qatar Statistics Authority.[24]

The emblem for the 2022 FIFA World Cup was revealed in Doha on September 3, 2019. Since the 2022 FIFA would be the first to be played in winters, the emblem depicts a woollen shawl and is inspired by the Arab culture.[25]


Shortly after the awarding of the World Cup to Qatar, the bid was embroiled in controversy, including allegations of bribery. European football associations have also objected to the 2022 World Cup being held in Qatar for a variety of reasons, including the impact of high temperatures on players' fitness, to the disruption it might cause in European domestic league calendars should the event be rescheduled to take place during winter.[26][27] In March 2015, FIFA and Qatar agreed that the competition would be held in November and December 2022.[28]

In May 2014, Qatari football official Mohammed bin Hammam was accused of making payments totalling £3m to officials in return for their support for the Qatar bid.[29] However, a FIFA inquiry into the bidding process in November 2014 cleared Qatar of any wrongdoing.[30] The Guardian, a British national daily newspaper, produced a short documentary named "Abuse and exploitation of migrant workers preparing emirate for 2022".[31]

A 2014 investigation by The Guardian reported that migrant workers who had been constructing luxurious offices for the organizers of the 2022 World Cup had not been paid in over a year, and were "working illegally from cockroach-infested lodgings."[32] The Qatar 2022 organising committee have responded to various allegations by claiming that hosting the World Cup in Qatar would act as a "catalyst for change" in the region.[33]

International criticism of Qatar for worker abuse caused authorities to make a wide-ranging review of conditions, led by the Ministry of Labour.[34]

Qatar authorities have also sought to improve the situation by commissioning British law firm DLA Piper to undertake a review of conditions in 2012.[35] Following the recommendations made, Qatar Foundation created the Migrant Workers Welfare Charter which apply minimum requirements with respect to the recruitment, living and working conditions, as well as the general treatment of workers engaged in construction and other projects. The mandatory standards will be incorporated into agreements between Qatar Foundation and all its contractors, who are required to comply with the requirements and rules. Contractors and sub-contractors found to be violating the regulations have been blacklisted from future tenders.[36]

Labour rights have slowly been improving since the review; for example, in August 2015, Qatar announced it will launch a new electronic salary system to guarantee safe and punctual payments directly into workers’ bank accounts.[37] Companies that fail to pay their workers on time will be fined and the country maintains that prison sentences could even be handed out. Government ministers also predict that changes to the country's kafala system will be announced later in 2015.[37]


Futsal became an officially sanctioned sport in 2007, when the fully professional Qatar Futsal League was established.[38] There are two futsal tournaments; the QFA Futsal Cup and the Open Cup, which was inaugurated in 2010.[39] Futsal is overseen by a department of the Qatar Football Association.[40] A women's league was launched in 2009 under the auspices of the Women's Sports Committee.[41]


Qatari female basketball players

Basketball is an increasingly popular sport in Qatar. The sport is administered by the Qatar Basketball Federation (QBF).[42] The QBF was established in 1964, but was only admitted into the FIBA Asia and the Organizing Committee of the GCC in 1979.[43]

Qatar's first basketball championship came in the 1995 GCC Youth Championship.[44] The national basketball team won back-to-back bronze medals in the 2003 and 2005 editions of the Asian Basketball Championship[45] and qualified for the 2006 FIBA World Championship.[46] Qatar is also bidding for hosting rights for the 2023 FIBA World Championship.

Club teams compete in the Qatari Basketball League, the top domestic basketball league in the country. Qatar's first women's basketball league was launched in 2012.[47]


Cricket is the second most popular sport of Qatar, albeit one that the local citizens play very little. Despite that, workers and residents from the Indian Subcontinent love to play the game that is treated near to a religion back in their home territories, and because the subcontinent accounts for nearly half the citizens in Qatar, the game is rapidly picking up its pace. Although the local Qatar national team isn't as popular, cricket tournaments such as the ICC World Cup and the ICC World Twenty20 which exclude Qatar but include nations which account for most of the expatriates in the country are one of the most viewed sporting events in the country.

The Qatar Cricket Association (QCA) is set to host the country’s first T10 League by the end of 2019.[48]


Qatar has hosted the Commercial Bank Qatar Masters, a European Tour golf event, since 1998.[49]


Handball is a very popular team sport in Qatar.[1] It was introduced to the country in 1968; however, Qatar did not join the International Handball Federation until the 1970s.[50] The Qatar national handball team qualified for the IHF World Men's Handball Championship on four separate occasions, and automatically qualified for a fifth as host.[50] Qatar came runners-up to France in the 2015 World Handball Championship held on home soil, however the tournament was marred by various controversies.[51]

Motor racing

Qatar's two bronze medalists at the 2012 Summer Olympics, Nasser Al-Attiyah and Mutaz Essa Barshim posing for a picture.

Qatar Racing Club, a drag racing facility where the Arabian Drag Racing League competes, is located in the country's capital Doha on a 150,000 m² area. Its racing track has a capacity for 2,000 people.[52]

Khalid bin Hamad Al Thani, the first Qatari to drive a Formula One car,[53] is involved in the sport and is the owner of Al-Annabi Racing.[54]

Qatari athlete Nasser Al-Attiyah has won 2011 and 2015 Dakar Rally, the 2008 and 2015 FIA Cross Country Rally World Cup, the Production World Rally Championship in 2006, and the 2014 and 2015 World Rally Championship-2.

The Losail International Circuit has hosted the Qatar motorcycle Grand Prix since 2004, a Superbike World Championship round from 2005-2009 and since 2014, and a Motocross World Championship round since 2013.[55][56]

Powerboat racing

The Grand Prix of Qatar, a round in the Formula 1 Powerboat World Championship, was held annually in Doha Bay from 2005 to 2015.[57] In addition, the state-sponsored Qatar Team won four Formula 1 championships with Jay Price (2008)[58] and Alex Carella (2011-13).[59] Qatar ended their involvement in Formula 1 powerboat racing in early 2015 with the merger of the Qatar Sailing Federation and Qatar Marine Sports Federation (QMSF).[60]

Beginning in November 2009, Qatar has been host of the Oryx Cup World Championship, a hydroplane boat race in the H1 Unlimited season. The races take place in Doha Bay.[61]


A saker falcon used for falconry in Qatar

Falconry is widely practiced by Qataris. The only falconry association is Al Gannas, which was founded in 2008 in Katara and which hosts the Annual Falconry Festival. There are roughly 3,000 people in Qatar who own falcons. Hunting season extends from October to April. Prices of falcons can be extremely high, being as expensive as QR 1 million.[62]

Camel racing

Historically camel racing was a tradition among the Bedouin tribes of Qatar and would be performed on special occasions such as weddings.[63] It was not until 1972, one year after Qatar's independence, that camel racing was practiced on a professional level. Typically, camel racing season takes place from September to March. Approximately 22,000 racing camels are used in competitions which are mainly held at the country's primary camel racing venue, the Al-Shahaniya Camel Racetrack. The average distance of such races is usually 4 to 8 km depending on the conditions of the camels being raced.[64]

Sport by number of athletes registered

Statistics accurate as of 2013.[1]

Sport Female Male Total
Football 316 5,156 5,472
Swimming 41 2,361 2,402
Athletics 0 2,043 2,043
Handball 53 1,855 1,908
295 1,178 1,473
Volleyball 107 1357 1,464
Basketball 43 997 1,040
Fencing 255 499 754
Hockey 196 481 677
Karate 95 422 517
Table tennis 30 402 432
Tennis 69 211 280
0 190 190
Sport Female Male Total
Endurance riding 30 118 148
Gymnastics 69 66 135
Bowling 0 122 122
Equestrian sports 13 86 99
Golf 8 57 65
Chess 32 29 61
Wrestling 0 56 56
Boxing 0 56 56
Squash 0 49 49
4 24 28
0 22 22

Major sport events in Qatar

Annual Events

  • since 1993 - ATP Tennis Tournament doha
  • since 1998 - Commercial Bank Qatar Masters
  • since 2004 - FIM Moto Racing World Championships
  • since 2008 - FEI Equestrian Global Champions Tour
  • since 2008 - WTA Tour Tennis Championships
  • since 2010 - IAAF Diamond League
  • since 2010 - IHF Handball Super Globe
  • since 2010 - FIVB Club World Championships

Failed Bids

  • 2020 - Olympic Games

See also


  1. ^ a b c d "Sports chapter (2013)". Qatar Statistics Authority. Retrieved 15 March 2015.
  2. ^ a b Paul Radford (2 December 2010). "Russia, Qatar win 2018 and 2022 World Cups". Reuters. Retrieved 2 December 2010.
  3. ^ "Qatar replaces San Diego as host of 1st World Beach Games". The Washington Post. Retrieved 14 June 2019.
  4. ^ "Qatar Gets World Beach Games Originally Awarded to San Diego". Times of San Diego. Retrieved 14 June 2019.
  5. ^ "Qatar Stars League (QSL)". Retrieved 30 July 2015.
  6. ^ "QSL expands to 14 teams". Qatar Sports Today. 8 May 2013. Retrieved 30 July 2015.
  7. ^ "Qatar Stars League attendances hit record high". Qatar Stars League. 23 Feb 2014.
  8. ^ "The audience are reluctant to attend football matches at stadiums". 25 January 2014. Retrieved 1 October 2015.
  9. ^ "Real Madrid legend Raul opts to join Qatari outfit Al Sadd after ending Schalke stint". Daily Mail. 12 May 2012.
  10. ^ "Xavi Hernández is leaving Barcelona to join Qatari club Al Sadd". Guardian. 20 May 2015.
  11. ^ "Barcelona legend Xavi named head coach of Qatari club Al Sadd". BBC Sport. Retrieved 28 May 2019.
  12. ^ "Football in Qatar". Qatar Visitor. Archived from the original on 11 September 2015.
  13. ^ a b "List of Champions". Gulf Cup. Retrieved 15 March 2015.
  14. ^ "Mercedes, $15,000 and bungalow each is Qatar's way". Singapore Monitor. 12 April 1984. Retrieved 11 September 2015.
  15. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p q r s t u v w "Sports". US-Qatar Business Council. Retrieved 24 July 2015.
  16. ^ "Qatar clinch historic title". Retrieved 1 February 2019.
  17. ^ "Qatar, World Cup 2022 hosts, just won the 2019 Asian Cup. Are they better than we thought?". ESPN. Retrieved 1 February 2019.
  18. ^ "Qatar to host next two FIFA Club World Cups". Al Jazeera. Retrieved 3 June 2019.
  19. ^ "Qatar wins 2022 World Cup bid". The Guardian. 2 December 2010.
  20. ^ "Qatar's first World Cup stadium, Khalifa International, expected complete in 2016". The National. 1 September 2015.
  21. ^ "Qatar World Cup in 2022 could cost £138 billion according to financial analyst". Daily Telegraph. 8 Sep 2011.
  22. ^ "Qatar 2022 World Cup offers opportunities to contractors that can adapt and innovate". Construction News. 22 Nov 2013.
  23. ^ "Qatar: Challenge 22 projects move to next phase". Construction Week Online. 17 Aug 2015.
  24. ^ "Qatar's real estate: Keeping the momentum going". The Edge. 25 May 2015.
  25. ^ "Fifa World Cup: Qatar 2022 emblem launched globally in Doha, London and New York". BBC Sport. Retrieved 4 September 2019.
  26. ^ "Europe's Top Leagues protest against 2022 winter World Cup in Qatar". Qatar Chronicle. 12 August 2013. Retrieved 21 August 2013.
  27. ^ "Fifa wants Qatar 2022 postponed to Winter". Qatar Chronicle. 20 July 2013. Retrieved 21 August 2013.
  28. ^ "2022 FIFA World Cup to be played in November/December". FIFA. 20 March 2015. Retrieved 9 Sep 2015.
  29. ^ "BBC Sport – Qatar World Cup: '£3m payments to officials' corruption claim". Retrieved 1 June 2014.
  30. ^ "World Cup inquiry clears Qatar but criticises English FA". BBC. 13 November 2014. Retrieved 12 March 2015.
  31. ^ Pattisson, Pete (25 September 2013). "Revealed: Qatar's World Cup 'slaves'". The Guardian. Retrieved 26 September 2013. So entrenched is this exploitation that the Nepalese ambassador to Qatar, Maya Kumari Sharma, recently described the emirate as an "open jail".
  32. ^ Booth, Robert; Pattisson, Pete (28 July 2014). "Qatar World Cup: migrants wait a year to be paid for building offices". The Guardian. Retrieved 12 March 2015.
  33. ^ Gibson, Owen (14 June 2014). "Qatar hits back at allegations of bribery over 2022 World Cup". The Guardian. Retrieved 12 March 2015. Italic or bold markup not allowed in: |publisher= (help)
  34. ^ "AP Interview: Qatar minister vows to improve migrants' lives". Daily Mail. 4 May 2015.
  35. ^ "Qatar promises to reform labour laws after outcry over 'World Cup slaves'". Guardian. 14 May 2015.
  36. ^ "Qatar Foundation launches workers' rights charter". Construction Week Online. 29 April 2013.
  37. ^ a b "World Cup 2022 host Qatar to start enforcing Wage Protection System from November". The National. 2 Sep 2015.
  38. ^ "AFC FUTSAL DEVELOPMENT TEAM VISITS QATAR". The AFC. 5 March 2014. Retrieved 17 September 2015.
  39. ^ "Qatari futsal: great expectations". Futsal Planet. 2 July 2010. Retrieved 17 September 2015.
  40. ^ "Futsal and beach soccer". Qatar Football Association. Retrieved 17 September 2015.
  41. ^ Mai Akkad (25 February 2014). "Women's football in Qatar making strides, but more young talent needed". Doha News. Retrieved 17 September 2015.
  42. ^ "QBF Committees". Qatar Basketball Federation. 25 February 2012. Retrieved 31 July 2015.
  43. ^ "نبذة تاريخية". Qatar Basketball Federation. Retrieved 31 July 2015.
  44. ^ "البطـولات والمنافسات الخـارجيـة". Qatar Basketball Federation. Retrieved 31 July 2015.
  45. ^ Ed Umbao (31 July 2013). "Qatar Line-Up: FIBA Asia 2013 Championship (Team Roster Preview)". Philippine News. Retrieved 24 July 2015.
  46. ^ "2006 FIBA World Championship". FIBA. Retrieved 24 July 2015.
  47. ^ Elizabeth Broomhall (26 April 2012). "Qatar launches first Women's Basketball League". Arabian Business. Retrieved 31 July 2015.
  48. ^ "QCA set to launch T10 League; gets ICC clearance". The Peninsula. Retrieved 28 July 2019.
  49. ^ "Facts and Figures - Commercial Bank Qatar Masters". The PGA European Tour. Retrieved 10 December 2012.
  50. ^ a b Stefan Fatsis (5 February 2015). "2022 World Cup: Why the 2015 Men's Handball World Championship in Qatar in Qatar should worry soccer fans". Retrieved 31 July 2015.
  51. ^ Peter Kovessy (1 February 2015). "Qatar comes up short in final following historic handball performance". Doha News. Retrieved 31 July 2015.
  52. ^ "QOC Venue Booklet" (PDF). Qatar Olympic Committee (QOC). 24 March 2015. p. 18. Retrieved 28 January 2019.
  53. ^ "First Qatari drives Williams F1". 11 December 2009. Retrieved 19 March 2015.
  54. ^ Futterman, Futterman (22 April 2009). "Drag Racing's Patron Sheik". Wallstreet Journal. Retrieved 12 March 2015.
  56. ^ "About the circuit". MotoGP. Retrieved 19 July 2015.
  57. ^ "Power boats". Oryx in-flight magazine. Retrieved 19 July 2015.
  58. ^ "Jay Price Leads Qatar Team To A Dominating 2008 Title!". F1H2O. 31 December 2008. Retrieved 26 January 2016.
  59. ^ "Carella Locks Down Third Straight Title With Win In Sharjah!". F1H2O. 13 December 2013. Retrieved 26 January 2016.
  60. ^ David Sewell (4 April 2015). "The F1 H20 Qatar Team have "frozen" their 2015 plans". Raceboat International. Retrieved 26 January 2016.
  61. ^ "2014 Oryx Cup Dates Announced". H1 Unlimited. 12 March 2014. Retrieved 19 July 2015.
  62. ^ "Falconry: A National Sport". Marhaba. 20 September 2017. Retrieved 23 August 2018.
  63. ^ Breulmann, Marc; Böer, Benno; Wernery, Ulrich; Wernery, Renate; El Shaer, Hassan; Alhadrami, Ghaleb; Gallacher, David; Peacock, John; Chaudhary, Shaukat Ali; Brown, Gary & Norton, John. "The Camel From Tradition to Modern Times" (PDF). UNESCO. Retrieved 16 July 2018.:25
  64. ^ David Harding (1 May 2017). "Qatar's prized racing camels bred for success". Agence France-Presse. Retrieved 16 July 2018.
  65. ^ "WRO 2015 in Doha, Qatar". World Robot Oylmpiad. Retrieved 12 March 2015.