As the 2018 FIFA World Cup came to a close on 16 July, a ceremony took place in the Russian capital to hand over the role of FIFA World Cup hosts from Russia to Qatar. In the presence of FIFA chief Gianni Infantino, the association reported, Russian President Vladimir Putin took down from the podium the official match ball for the knockout rounds, the Adidas Telstar Mechta, and handed it to Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani, the Emir of Qatar, the country that will host the 2022 FIFA World Cup. It’s over to Qatar 2022 now.
The ceremony took place in the Georgievsky Hall of the Grand Kremlin Palace where the official match ball was used in place of a baton to symbolise the changing of the host nation.
The 2018 FIFA World Cup got over with France emerging ‘champions du monde’ beating Croatia 4-2 at the Luzhniki Stadium. The next World Cup will be held from 21 November to 18 December 2022 in Qatar.
“Today is a ceremonious occasion as Russia passes the FIFA World Cup torch to the state of Qatar. The World Cup is coming to an end in Russia. We are proud of what we’ve managed to achieve for fans of this wonderful sport. The whole country has taken enormous pleasure from interacting with the world of football and the fans who have visited us from all over the planet. I am sure our friends from Qatar will manage to stage the 2022 FIFA World Cup just as exceptionally,” Putin said at the Grand Kremlin Palace.
Stating that Russia was ready to share with Qatar the experience it gained to host the World Cup, he added: “We will do everything to ensure football can carry out its amazing and humanitarian role of uniting people, countries and continents.”
In his address, FIFA president Gianni Infantino said, “It’s a huge honour to be in such a special place, the Kremlin, to celebrate the end of the 2018 World Cup and pass on the torch to the organisers of the 2022 World Cup.”
He added, “I can certainly say we have fallen in love with Russia. And I’m sure that in four years we will all love Qatar. This is already happening. We invite everyone to the 2022 World Cup in Qatar!”
Congratulating FIFA and Russia on successfully organising the mega event, Emir of Qatar Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani thanked the Russia 2018 Local Organising Committee for helping the Qatar 2022 Organising Committee and said, “We look forward to continuing to work alongside our friends from Russia.”
He added: “Staging the 2022 World Cup in our country is a really important event in the history of Qatar. I remember that when our country was awarded the right to host the World Cup, it was a huge celebration for the whole Arabic world. I invite all of our friends to come as guests. We really hope our national team will repeat the success of Russia and maybe even go further.”