Sepp Blatter is said to have a keen eye on his legacy when he finally relinquishes his hold on Fifa and he has certainly offered a remarkable first for the 2022 tournament. The first to be staged in the Middle East, and in a country where temperatures can touch 48C in the summer, it will be like no other.
The margin of victory for this small country that has little football history – they have never qualified for a World Cup finals and are ranked 113th in the world – came as a surprise. Having seen off Australia, who managed a single vote, Japan and Korea, they finally defeated the US by 14 votes to eight. "Thank you for believing in us," said Qatar's Emir, Sheikh Hamad bin Khalifa Al-Thani. "Thank you for having such bold vision."
Qatar played the perfect campaign, with money no object. Zinedine Zidane, Sir Alex Ferguson and Pep Guardiola are three of a phalanx of global footballing names who gave their backing, but it was an Englishman who proved the dealmaker. Mike Lee, who helped London win the Olympics in 2012 and Rio the 2016 Games, worked his back-room magic for a third time.
Whether the world's best footballers will thank him for his efforts come 2022 is open to question. The bid has promised to install air-conditioning systems in all its 12 stadiums, nine of which will be new builds. They claim that the temperature inside grounds can be held at 27C, but that has been widely questioned. The final will be held in the 85,000 Lusail Stadium and the bid has also promised that some of the smaller grounds will be dismantled after the event and given to poorer nations.
Money is no object to Qatar. They spent on their bid and they will spend huge amounts on the tournament; £25bn is already earmarked to improve public transport.
Also in its favour is the small size – the smallest to host the finals – of the former British protectorate that pokes into the Gulf like a big toe testing the water. Supporters will be able to take in two games a day, and they will be able drink alcohol in specially designated fan zones but nowhere else.
"I think it was the wrong decision," the US President, Barack Obama, said last night, and while he could be accused of being an ungracious loser, there are many outside Fifa House who will agree with him.Reuse content