Qatar 2022 Hassan al-Thawadi has spoken of the Middle East’s commercial potential as UK bookmakers make the Gulf kingdom odds-on favourite to host the 2022 finals (Getty)

(WFI) Qatar 2022 World Cup bid CEO Hassan al-Thawadi says that hosting a World Cup in the Middle East would unlock football’s commercial potential in the region.

Speaking after publication of research by consultants Grant Thornton, which claims that the award of the World Cup to Qatar in 2010 would grow the value of football in the region by $14 billion by 2022 [52%] and by a further $10 billion [46%] by 2042, al-Thawadi said that the award of the tournament would act as the “catalyst” for a new generation of fans and players.

“Grant Thornton’s report helps to quantify the significant commercial and football development opportunities for FIFA and football if the Middle East has the historic opportunity to host the FIFA World Cup in 2022,” said al-Thawadi.

“We can see many millions of new fans participating, watching and consuming football.

“We know the passion for football in the Middle East. The missing piece of the jigsaw is having the FIFA World Cup as the catalyst to unlock a whole new generation of fans and players. This report adds to our belief that a FIFA World Cup in the Middle East in 2022 would not only make history but also open up a significant and exciting new football frontier for FIFA and its partners.”

Qatar were the one Asian bid which did not have the primacy of European TV markets mentioned in FIFA’s bid evaluation reports – FIFA claimed it was “unlikely” that Australia, Japan and Korea would be able to command as lucrative rights as European nations – and the bid has been keen to emphasise its geographic centrality.

Grant Thortnton’s research claims that 82% of the world’s time zones would receive Qatar 2022 games live in prime time. The consultancy says “this has the potential to create an enhanced rights value for FIFA.”

The research also suggests that the Middle East’s proximity to European and Asian markets is likely to enhance the commercial value of hospitality rights compared to South Africa 2010. It also suggests that proximity to India would “help drive interest” across the Indian subcontinent.

Qatar strike favour with bookies
UK bookmaker William Hill has installed Qatar as odds on favourite for the 2022 finals, offer 4-9 odds on their success. Australia at 3-1, USA 7-2 are also in the running. Japan at 33-1 and South Korea at 40-1 are considered outsiders.

Hill’s also ranked Russia as 10-11 favourites to win the right to stage the 2018 finals followed by England (6-4), Portugal/Spain (7-2) and Netherlands/Belgium (50-1).

From INSIDER’s James Corbett

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