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Qatar Football History: Discover a Journey of 75 Years

Exhibition

Join us for a journey through 75 years of maroon football history at Doha Stadium, the original home of Qatari football.

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In the 1960s, Doha Stadium became the first grass pitch stadium in the region and saw the formation of Qatar’s earliest football stars. By the 1970s, the stadium had welcomed global stars such as three-time FIFA World Cup™ winner Pelé. The Brazilian legend arrived with his former club Santos to play a friendly game against Qatar's oldest football club, Al Ahli, in 1973.

The stadium was also home to other sporting royalty, welcoming ‘The Greatest’, Muhammad Ali, who fought an exhibition bout in front of a sold-out crowd in 1971. Eventually newer arenas replaced Doha Stadium, but the historic and well-loved venue has retained a vibrant legacy in Qatar.

Come discover the unique journey of maroon sportsmen and women, from Qatar’s football origins to hosting the world at the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022™.

A black and white image of football players on a wide pitch.

Early games of football at Doha Stadium in Qatar in the 1960s. Photo © Arab Gulf Cup Football Federation.

Earliest Games in Qatar

In this section, the exhibition highlights the beginnings of football in Qatar. First played on sand in the 1940s, with oil sometimes being used to draw the lines of the pitch, a passion for kora (football) quickly took hold of the youth across the country.

By 1950, Qatar’s first football club - Al Ahli Club - was formed and in 1960, the Qatar Football Association further propelled the development of the sport. In 1962, Doha Stadium was officially opened and Qatari passion for the world’s favourite game continued to grow.

Black and white image of footballer Pele kicking a football mid match.

Al Ahli Club of Qatar plays against Pele’s Santos team at Doha Stadium in 1973. Photo © Qatar Olympic Committee.

Qatari Football Grows at Doha Stadium

Local competitions in the 1960s drew avid spectators from across the country to cheer on their teams at the stadium. By the 1970s, global stars were invited to Doha to help further inspire the country’s youth.

In 1973, Brazilian forward Pelé and his famous Santos team played in front of a sold-out crowd at Doha Stadium. Qatari football fans who attended the game fondly remember Pelé’s skills and unstoppable shots.

Football team wearing maroon zip up jumpers walk onto a pitch.

Qatar’s team at the 1981 FIFA Youth World Championships walks onto the pitch in Australia. Photo © Arab Gulf Cup Football Federation.

Surprising the World on the Pitch

By 1981, a talented Qatari Under-20 team surprised football fans across the world, beating both Brazil and England to reach the final of the FIFA World Youth Championships in Australia. Although they didn’t ultimately win, they drew large crowds nonetheless, who gathered to welcome their heroes back home to Doha.

Qatar also participated in their first ever Olympic Games in Los Angeles, in 1984, and then again at the 1992 Olympic Games in Barcelona, making impressive strides each time. The Maroon also won the Gulf Cup for the first time in ‘92, in Doha.

The Qatar football team is shown throwing player number 26 in the air in celebration.

Celebrations as Qatar wins the 2006 Doha Asian Games gold medal in football in Doha. Photo © Qatar Olympic Committee.

Hosting the World’s Greatest Athletes

For the past three decades Qatar has hosted the world’s most important championships and athletes in sports ranging from football to cycling, swimming, handball and more. In 1995, Qatar successfully organised the FIFA Under-20 World Championships with just three weeks’ notice, sending a strong message of its hosting abilities to the world.

In 2006, Doha hosted what was widely acknowledged as the most successful Asian Games ever.

The Qatar football team show raising a trophy in celebration.

Qatar lifts the 2014 Gulf Cup title in Saudi Arabia, their third trophy in the tournament. Photo © Arab Gulf Cup Football Federation.

Miracles in Maroon

In 2010, Qatar was selected as the host nation of the 2022 FIFA World Cup™, the first edition of the tournament to be held in the Arab world.

The Qatari national team created further history by lifting the AFC Asian Cup trophy in 2019. Then, at the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games, Qatar won two gold medals for the first time in their history, furthering the legacy of a football-loving people and country.

Visit the exhibition and be a part of history as it is written.

This exhibition was organised in cooperation with the Veteran Players Committee of Q.F.A.

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