Former England captain David Beckham has praised the legacy projects being delivered by Qatar prior to the country’s hosting of the FIFA World Cup™ later this year.
Beckham was recently the special guest at the Qatar Community World Cup semi-finals. The tournament is organised by the Qatar Community Football League (QCFL), which was founded in 2016 by the Supreme Committee for Delivery & Legacy – the organisation responsible for developing the infrastructure and legacy projects for the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022™.
Beckham, who appeared and scored in three FIFA World Cups, said: “There’s no bigger sporting competition than the World Cup. It changes countries and it changes people’s lives. When we talk about legacy, this is real evidence of it. Even before the World Cup has begun, this is evidence of the incredible work the Supreme Committee has done. This is why the World Cup has been brought here – to improve the game and build a legacy. Legacy is the most important thing.”
Beckham, who won honours with Manchester United, Real Madrid, LA Galaxy and Paris Saint-Germain during a glittering career, said the QCFL reminded him of playing ‘Sunday league’ amateur matches in England when he was growing up. Over the past six years, the number of teams competing in the QCFL has grown to 86. There are four divisions, in addition to boys’ and girls’ leagues. Since 2019, matches have been held at the training pitches adjacent to Ahmad Bin Ali Stadium, one of eight tournament venues for Qatar 2022.
“Playing Sunday league was one of the best times in my footballing career,” said Beckham, who is a co-owner of Major League Soccer team Inter Miami. “I loved playing Sunday league and I have a lot of friends who still play now. They keep trying to get me to go and play again but it’s not going to happen – sorry lads!”
Beckham added: “Sunday league brings people and communities together. It’s how friendships are formed. If you go down to Hackney Marshes [in London], they play like it’s a Premier League game. What I love about the QCFL is that they’re playing like that. There’s fair play – they’re getting on with it. And that’s what it should be like.”
Beckham went on to say fans from across the globe will witness Qatar’s passion for football when the country hosts the 22nd edition of the FIFA World Cup™ – and the first in the Middle East and Arab world – from 21 November to 18 December.
He said: “There is a rich history here and a love of the game, and that will be very evident when the tournament starts at the end of the year. People will see a football culture that has been here for a long time. And once the tournament finishes, the legacy will be there for everyone to see.”
Hosting the World Cup, said Beckham, is a golden opportunity to inspire the next generation.
“When countries are given the chance to host a competition as big as this, it’s great while the competition is going on. But when it ends, what’s more important is leaving a legacy. When people ask me what a World Cup does for a country, I say it inspires the next generation. It’s great to host the World Cup but it’s more important what happens after.”