The Middle Eastern state of Qatar will host the 2022 World Cup, the first time the tournament will be played in the region, following the Fifa Executive Committee vote in Zurich.
"We will not let you down. You will be proud of us, and you will be proud of the Middle East"
Qatar, whose final presentation yesterday was perhaps the most impressive of all the bidding nations', had been odds-on favourites coming into the vote today - a remarkable achievement considering many bookmakers had them as far out as 200-1 this time last year.
An emotional Sheikh Mohammed Al-Thani, chairman of the Qatar bid, said: "We will not let you down. You will be proud of us, and you will be proud of the Middle East."
The voting breakdown was as follows:
Round 1: Australia 1; Japan 3; Korea 4; Qatar 11; USA 3
Round 2: Japan 2; Korea; 5; Qatar 10; USA 5
Round 3: Korea 5; Qatar 11; USA 6
Round 4: Qatar 14; USA 8
Qatars final bid presentation:
Qatar was the third of the five bidding teams to present its case to host the 2022 World Cup and it did so with a style that easily surpassed the two that came before it. As bid chairman Sheikh Mohammed Al-Thani, chief executive Hassan Al-Thawadi and Shaikha Moza bint Nasser employed an impressive and studied array of French, Spanish and English, the polyglot presentation emphasised the giant economic impact of a World Cup in the region.
Reliability, unity and opportunity were the watchwords as Sheikh Mohammed, whose elegant French matched his suave appearance, kicked things off. Next, Hassan Al-Thawadi displayed flawless Spanish as he delved into the nitty gritty of the bid's detail. US$50 billion to be spent on infrastructure; the most compact World Cup in history; innovative, proven, and carbon neutral technology to keep players and fans cool; and, the killer punch, all-modular stadiums to be dismantled and reconstructed into 22 new ones across developing nations post-tournament.
Scoring points on diversity, Shaikha Moza bint Nasser then urged the ExCo members to consider that the time was now to give the Middle East, a new region for Fifa, its first World Cup, deploying a shaded world map to illustrate the point - a tried and tested tactic that swung the vote for the Rio 2016 Olympic bidding team.
Supplementing the core bidding team was an Iraqi national team player, who explained why the entire region, regardless of race, religion or nationality, was behind the Qatar bid.
The presentation was punctuated by three videos, varying in the degree of the 'epic', sentimental soundtracks they employed. The first, set to a motivational team talk by a youth team coach, had shades of Al Pacino and 'Any Given Sunday'; the second seemed to draw influence from 'Gladiator' and pulled on the same underdog heartstrings therein; while the third built to the moment that the vote is announced, cleverly pushing the ExCo members to the precipice of the vote and putting them immediately in mind of the immediate impact of their decision across the entire Middle East region.
A very, very impressive presentation.