The National Sport of Qatar is Soccer.
Soccer in Qatar is a passion, bridging cultural gaps and fostering national pride among its citizens.
To learn more about sports culture in Qatar, read our article about the most popular sports in Qatar.
Table of Contents
#1 History of Soccer
- 1940s-1950s: Emergence of soccer as a popular sport in Qatar, with local clubs and informal matches taking place.
- 1960: Formation of the Qatar Football Association (QFA) to organize and promote soccer in the country.
- 1972: Qatar joins FIFA, enabling participation in international soccer competitions.
- 1984-1992: Qatar’s national team qualifies for multiple AFC Asian Cup tournaments, showcasing their potential on the continental stage.
- 2010: Qatar secures the hosting rights for the 2022 FIFA World Cup, becoming the first Middle Eastern country to host the prestigious event.
#2 Culture and Traditions
Soccer holds a special place in Qatar’s cultural identity, as it has grown into a symbol of national pride and unity. Families and friends gather to watch and support Qatar’s national team and local clubs during key competitions, strengthening communal bonds and shared experiences.
As the largest sport event in the world, the upcoming 2022 FIFA World Cup will introduce numerous cultural events and celebrations across the country, further embedding soccer into the nation’s traditions. Fans will have the opportunity to participate in various activities, such as fan zones and cultural programs, which showcase Qatar’s hospitality and heritage.
Moreover, the Qatari Stars League, the top-tier soccer league in Qatar, generates excitement and passion among locals, who support their favorite teams and players throughout the season. The league’s fierce competition and growing quality reflect the nation’s dedication to soccer development.
#3 How it Works: Rules, Gameplay and Equipment
📕 Rules & Gameplay
- Match Duration: A standard match consists of two halves, each lasting 45 minutes, with a 15-minute break in between.
- Objective: Each team tries to score by getting the ball into the opposing team’s goal.
- Players: Each team has 11 players, including one goalkeeper.
- Offside: A player is offside if they are nearer to the opponent’s goal than both the ball and the second last opponent when the ball is played to them.
- Fouls: Direct and indirect free-kicks and penalty kicks are awarded for infringements of the rules.
⚙️ Equipment & Gear
- Ball: Round and made of leather or another suitable material.
- Goalposts: Located at each end of the field, they are 7.32 meters wide and 2.44 meters tall.
- Kits: Teams wear distinguishing kits, with goalkeepers wearing different colors to stand out.
- Shin Guards: Protection for players from potential tackles or hits.
- Boots: Specialized shoes designed for the sport’s requirements.
#4 Modern Development of Soccer
Qatar’s soccer landscape has evolved significantly in recent years, as investments in infrastructure, grassroots development, and elite performance have reaped rewards. The Aspire Academy, for instance, fosters young talent with world-class facilities, paving the way for the next generation of Qatari soccer stars.
Technological advancements have also impacted soccer in Qatar. The construction of state-of-the-art stadiums with advanced cooling systems for the 2022 FIFA World Cup showcases the nation’s capacity for innovation. These climate-controlled arenas will provide a comfortable playing environment for both players and spectators during the tournament.
Meanwhile, the Qatari Stars League is becoming more competitive, attracting international talent and raising the level of play. This progress, coupled with the nation’s focus on youth development, has seen the Qatari national team improve significantly, culminating in their historic victory at the 2019 AFC Asian Cup.
#5 Soccer and the Olympics
Soccer has been a prominent fixture in the Olympic Games, with the men’s competition first taking place in 1900 and the women’s in 1996. Although Qatar has yet to qualify for the Olympic soccer tournament, their continued investment in youth development and growing success in international competitions indicate potential Olympic appearances in the future.
The Olympic Games have been instrumental in elevating soccer’s global recognition, showcasing the talent and potential of young players from various nations. The tournament has served as a platform for emerging stars to make their mark on the international stage, often leading to opportunities in top leagues and clubs worldwide.
#6 Famous Athletes and Achievements
- Akram Afif: Currently playing for Al-Sadd SC in the Qatari Stars League and the Qatari national team, Afif was named the Asian Football Confederation (AFC) Player of the Year in 2019 after helping Qatar win their first-ever AFC Asian Cup.
- Khalfan Ibrahim: Considered one of the top talents in Qatari soccer history, Ibrahim won the AFC Player of the Year Award in 2006 and has had a successful career playing for Al-Sadd SC and the Qatari national team.
- Abdulaziz Hatem: A key player for Al-Rayyan SC and the Qatari national team, Hatem scored a crucial goal in the semifinals of the 2019 AFC Asian Cup, contributing to Qatar’s historic victory in the competition.
- Hasan Al-Haydos: Long-serving captain of the Qatari national team and Al-Sadd SC, Al-Haydos has helped guide his teams to various domestic and international successes throughout his career.
#7 Where to watch Soccer
- beIN Sports: A major broadcaster with exclusive rights to numerous soccer competitions, including the Qatari Stars League, the FIFA World Cup, UEFA Champions League, and European leagues.
- Local television channels: Channels like Al Kass Sports also provide coverage of domestic soccer matches in Qatar.
- Live in Qatar: Iconic stadiums such as the recently completed Al-Janoub Stadium, the renovated Khalifa International Stadium, and the under-construction Lusail Iconic Stadium offer unforgettable live experiences during both local and international soccer events.