Qatar Football Association
|President||Hamad Bin Khalifa Bin Ahmed Al-Thani|
The advent of football at Qatar dates back to the year of 1946, accompanied by the arrival of oil companies. The new game's popularity expanded immediately, which led to the establishment of Al Najah as the country’s first football club in 1950.
The athletic union
These ongoing efforts contributed to the formation of the first governing body in Qatari sport "the athletic union" headed by Sheikh Suhaim bin Hamad alongside Hitmi Al Hitmi, Majed bin Saad, and Khalifa Al Mutawah.
However, this committee lasted only for a few months, due to the resignation of its members.
Unlike nowadays, the organization of football lacked competence and experience. So matches were arranged by oral agreement or by simply writing a letter, conventionally, bringing a cup was the responsibility of the team that called for the match in the first place.
First football tournament
Under the supervision of Qatar Oil Company, the first football tournament ever in Qatar was held at the city of Dukhan. Despite the participation of several Doha teams – including Al Najah – host team Dukhan managed to win the 1951 Izzadeen tournament.
Qatar Oil Company replaced the old competition with a new one, Pukett Cup kicked off during the 1957 season, Al Najah went on to win the cup for the first time in their history.
Whether locally or regionally, rules and regulations were not very restrictive about players moving from one club to another, just a resignation letter and 10 Indian rupees were required of the player who wished to move. This undemanding system was in effect until the year 1962.
The Qatar Football Association was formed in 1970 to govern football in Qatar. The Association organized the first Qatar League in 1972-73.
Controversies surrounding leadership
Former president of the Qatar Football Association, Abd Al-Rahman al-Nuaimi, has been linked to various terrorist groups including al-Qaeda and Asbat an-Ansar. In 2013, the U.S. Department of the Treasury labeled the former head of the Qatar Football Association as a Specially Designated Global Terrorist (SDGT) for his role in transferring funds from Qatar-based donors to al-Qaeda and al-Shabaab. The U.S. Department of the Treasury accused al-Nuaimi of overseeing the transfer of over $2 million per month to al-Qaeda in Iraq "for a period of time."
Al-Nuaimi’s replacement and the current president of the Qatar Football Association, Sheikh Hamad bin Khalifa bin Ahmed al-Than, has also been linked to terrorist organizations. In April 2013, Sheikh Hamad, who has no official title other than President of the Qatar Football Association, reportedly met with Hamas Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh to discuss "Qatar-Hamas relations." Ismail Haniyeh has been a proponent of armed conflicts against Israel, including civilian targets, and referred to Osama bin Laden as "an Arab holy warrior."
Mohammed bin Hammam, Chairman of the Qatar Football Association from February 1992 to 1996, has also been involved in a string of controversies. On July 23, 2011, the FIFA Ethics Committee banned Bin Hammam for life from all FIFA and football related activities after being found guilty of bribery. Although the ban was annulled a year later, Bin Hamman was given a second ban in December 2012 for “conflicts of interest” that arose while he was president of the Asian Football Confederation.
On 6 September 2016, FIFA Ethics Committee's adjudicatory chamber opened proceedings against Qatar Football Association's Vice-President Saoud Al-Mohannadi. Al-Mohannadi was banned from running in elections for a seat in the FIFA Council later that month.
The Qatari Football Association has been criticized for hiring migrant workers to fill their empty stadiums in the Qatar Stars League, paying them one dollar an hour to "sit in the stadiums and pretend to have fun". The spread of paid fans was cited as a “significant reason” for low attendance rates among Qatari residents. According to a recent survey, only one third of the 1,079 Qatar residents surveyed had attended a football match during the previous season. The results of the survey, published by Qatar’s Ministry of Development Planning and Statistics cast doubts of claims that everything in Qatar “revolves around sport.”
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