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The participation of the Qatar national team in the 2019 Copa America is another achievement for this country's soccer, how much have they invested in the process?
The Copa América of Brazil 2019 is here, and with it, the biggest surprise of this event: the participation of the Qatar team as a guest. This team, which historically has been well below the level of professional world football, has been progressively changing its history against football and sports in general, so much so that this year it managed to be crowned as the Asian Cup of Nations champion, above Japan in the final, the other country invited to the South American contest. Its premiere in this Copa América was also outstanding, a 2-2 draw against the selection of Paraguay.
Leer en español: ¿Cuánto ha invertido Qatar para llevar su fútbol a dónde está?
Faced with these triumphs, a question arises: how much has Qatar invested to reach this level? The answer is anything but simple because the road that has traveled this country goes back almost at the beginning of 2000, when its economy began to turn around and established itself as a country with a high purchasing power, at least in its most successful businessmen.
In 2004, Qatar gave birth to the Aspire Academy for Sports Excellence, a school whose main objective was to train players at an elite professional level, not to send them abroad, but to train them in their own home. This would be the first long-term investment, which at the time established bridges with the Masía (the quarry of FC Barcelona) and that has already extended its bridges to European teams such as FC Bayern or PSG.
In search of a World Cup
However, Qatar's true race began around 2011, when the campaign to host the men's soccer world cup in 2022 began to take on a weight. According to reports from the Telegraph at the time, Qatar invested around 34 million dollars just in this campaign, with advertising plays such as bringing great world-class players (Gabriel Batistuta and Zinedine Zidane, among others) to the project, or demonstrating the help that Qatar lent to the Argentine Football Federation in its 2009 crisis.
Later, Reuters announced Qatar's intention to become a world sports center, with football as a flag. The most important economic announcement was the estimated 100 billion dollars that Qatar would spend to host the 2022 world cup, focusing on two important points: creating an infrastructure for the transmission of sporting events in Qatar, which for the World Cup it is fundamental, and the creation of a foreign investment network that supports both the national Qatari sport and its international projection.
Leaders in football investment
In 2018, El País identified Qatar as the country with the highest investment per capita in football, linking its project not only with the projection of the World Cup but with a European reality that, throughout the decade of 2010, has been increasingly evident: the economic power of the Parisian club PSG.
This French club has had an aggressive and unparalleled economic project, because it has sought to establish itself as an absolute reference of club football through its long-term projection and its intention to capture great, if not the best players in the world. Of course, this relationship occurs because Nasser Al-Khelaifi, the Qatari billionaire, is the president of PSG. This project joins others such as the acquisition of the Spanish Cultural Leonesa team or the foundation of the sports channel beIn Sports.
The latest data that has come out to the public reveal the cost of the construction of the stadiums and the adequacy of the facilities for the world: around 6 billion dollars. These mega-constructions, which are no strangers to the sports scene if you remember what has already been done in Brazil 2014 or Russia 2018, are just another example of the power of Qatar that seems not to rest in its struggle to be a reference of football and world sport. Can all this investment translate into titles and sports performance, as they did this year with the victory in the Asian Cup?
LatinAmerican Post | Jorge Ovalle
Translated from "¿Cuánto ha invertido Qatar para llevar su fútbol a donde está?"