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5 December 2019

New book tells the sporting story of ‘a young country that dared to dream big’

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Author of HBKU Press-published book hopes it will help to bring the story of sport in Qatar to the attention of the world

The author of a new book that chronicles Qatar’s sporting history believes the story of how sport has unfolded in the country that will host the FIFA World Cup 2022 is one the world needs to hear.

Sports journalist Matthias Krug – who has covered major football tournaments and the Olympic Games – wrote Journeys on a Football Carpet having become fascinated with the way sport has become an integral part of the fabric of Qatar.

The book has now been published by Qatar Foundation member Hamad Bin Khalifa University (HBKU) Press, and Qatar-born Krug said: “It means a lot to me to be able to tell the story of this great sporting nation developing.

“As a boy growing up in Qatar, I used to enjoy reading a particular book, which was about the history of the World Cup, in the Falcon Club in Doha. I read it every time I visited the club, and then, many years later, I was the first journalist to write about Qatar bidding to host the tournament itself.

“Qatar surprised the world by winning the right to stage the World Cup, but critics were quick to claim that the country has no sporting history. I found all these fascinating stories that I wanted to help tell for the first time, and developed this book which tells the story of a young, small country that dared to dream big on the sporting stage.”

Krug says he wanted to reveal to the world the stories of the people whose names are synonymous with sport in Qatar, with some of the best-known names in Qatari sport joining him and his father Joachim – one of Qatar’s first overseas athletics coaches, and a current member of the Qatar national athletics squad’s coaching team – at Qatar National Library for an event to launch Journeys on a Football Carpet.

A discussion at the event saw Qatari football legend Badr Bilal, a sports analyst on TV channel Al Kass; Sheikh Fahad Khalid Al Thani, Qatar’s first professional boxing champion; and athlete Mariam Farid, the Qatar Foundation student who competed in the 400m hurdles at the IAAF World Athletics Championships in Doha this year, speak about their passion for sport, why it means so much to people in Qatar, and its role in breaking down stereotypes. His Excellency Hans-Udo Muzel, Germany’s Ambassador to Qatar, also spoke at the event, emphasizing the capacity of sport to “bring people together”.

“It’s a very exciting time for Qatar in sporting terms, with tournaments such as the Gulf Cup and the FIFA Club World Cup, and with the nation’s footballers having won the 2019 Asian Cup,” said Krug.

“I actually had to write an additional chapter in the book because of Qatar’s Asian Cup victory, and I had to be stopped from writing more because there are always new things happening and a new success story or a major event to write about!

I believe that Qatar will continue to surprise the world, both on and off the pitch, in the build-up to the World Cup in 2022, and at the tournament itself.

Matthias Krug

“I believe that Qatar will continue to surprise the world, both on and off the pitch, in the build-up to the World Cup in 2022, and at the tournament itself. Sometimes, when I drop my daughter off at school in the morning and hear Qatar’s national anthem ring out, I get goosebumps thinking about November 21, 2022, when Qatar’s footballers play in the opening game of the World Cup, the whole nation gets behind the team, and the world comes to Qatar.

“I hope that, even in a small way, this book will contribute to greater understanding around the world about what Qatar has achieved in its sporting history and give people more insight – because you need to understand the past to draw lessons about the present and the future.”

Journeys on a Football Carpet is available in the HBKU Press Bookstore, in the Minaretein building (College of Islamic Studies) at Education City, in bookstores across Qatar, and as an eBook on Amazon Kindle.

“This book is a documentation of Qatar’s history,” said Bachar Chebaro, Executive Director of HBKU Press. “We are committed to publishing books that provide the global community with insight on Qatar and highlight the nation’s success.”

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