By Xavi Hernandez/Doha
Earlier this month, from my home in Qatar, I watched intently as the country announced the completion of Education City Stadium and paid tribute to frontline healthcare workers – in this country and beyond – who have risked their lives to help us all during these unprecedented circumstances.
I must start this piece by thanking our key workers in the healthcare sector, along with those working in essential activities, for their dedication during these months. All of them are working hard to feed us, look after us, provide medicine and take stranded people home to their families. Your efforts throughout this once-in-a-lifetime crisis make you the real heroes of our generation. And for that, I am eternally grateful to each and every one of you.
Qatar, where I currently live with my family, has not been spared from this crisis. It has been a challenging time – but thanks to the effort and work of the authorities and all the population, I do see some light at the end of this long, dark tunnel, both here and around the world.
One clear symbolic sign of hope was this month’s announcement about the completion of Education City Stadium. It signalled better times ahead and also the progress Qatar continues to make in the face of so many challenges.
To me, it was fitting that the ceremony was dedicated to those who are working on the frontline. It made me proud to be part of this journey with Qatar and the Supreme Committee for Delivery & Legacy – for whom I have been an ambassador since 2016.
My fellow ambassador, Tim Cahill, wrote a piece recently saying that Qatar 2022 has a unique opportunity to be the means to help those who have suffered so much in this health crisis, given it is likely to be the first global football event post-pandemic. These sentiments were also echoed by Qatar 2022 CEO Nasser al-Khater on beIN SPORTS during the launch show.
I could not agree more with both Tim and Nasser. All of us, including fans, players, coaches, ambassadors, country leaders and residents of the region, have an amazing opportunity (and responsibility) to truly make a difference in delivering not only the greatest World Cup in tournament history, but also a uniquely unifying tournament that pulls us together, after this unprecedented period of separation.
I have no doubt that football will help us return to some kind of normalcy. The sport is resuming in many parts of the world. The pandemic has been a life lesson for us all. I think we will all appreciate the little things in life after this testing time.
I believe football is the best and most powerful tool to unite cultures, countries and people of all backgrounds. We have the opportunity to make the World Cup in 2022 the event which brings the world together after the pandemic, and I look forward – now more than ever before – to this tournament truly delivering something more than amazing…something unique. At a time when the world needs it most.
Take care of yourselves and your loved ones.
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