PtG Article 09.11.2017

Head of Qatar 2022 World Cup confirms speech and debate at Play the Game 2017

Hassan Al Thawadi declares ready to debate issues related to Qatar’s hosting of the 2022 FIFA World Cup and the current blockade by neighbour countries. Moreover, RUSADA adds its voice to doping panel.

Update: RUSADA has sent their apology and will not be presenting at Play the Game

With the confirmation that Hassan Al Thawadi, Secretary General of the Supreme Committee for Delivery & Legacy of the 2022 FIFA World Cup, will speak and discuss all current issues related to Qatar’s hosting of the mega-event, all is set for an exciting Opening Session of Play the Game 2017 in Eindhoven.

Considered as one of the most influential figures of his home country though not yet 40 years of age, Hassan Al Thawadi must deal with a two-headed challenge: At home, he has to secure a smooth arrangement of a hugely complex international event in a country that has never lifted such a massive task before. Abroad, he is the front soldier for a country that has had to defend itself against a variety of accusations since it won the right seven years ago to host one of the world’s two most attractive global events.

Seen from the outside, the task has not become easier in recent months where an old political and religious rivalry in the Middle East has surfaced. Saudi Arabia is leading a coalition of neighbouring countries that has cut diplomatic relations and may at the end try to deprive Qatar of its prestigious football event.

“We are very grateful that Hassan Al Thawadi finds time to discuss with Play the Game’s multi-stakeholder audience at a difficult and decisive moment for his country,” says international director Jens Sejer Andersen.

As an introduction to the debate with Al Thawadi, the renowned expert in Middle East politics and football, PhD James M. Dorsey, will give an overview over the current situation on and around the Arab peninsula. Another highly qualified expert and journalist, James Corbett, will moderate the debate.

Right before Qatar enters the stage at the Opening Session, another highly controversial issue has been discussed by key stakeholders. Following a keynote by WADA President Sir Craig Reedie, a very topical panel will discuss the Russian and international doping crisis.

No less than the Director General of RUSADA, Yuri Ganus, and his US counterpart Travis Tygart will meet in the discussion, flanked by WADA’s founding president, IOC member Richard W. Pound, and Silke Kassner, vice-chair of both the German anti-doping agency, the athletes commission at the German Olympic Committee, and of a newly formed independent athletes organisation, Athletes Germany.

Jens Sejer Andersen finds it very promising for the future sports climate that representatives from Russia and Qatar have decided to face their opponents:

“They come from two of the most criticized countries in world sport, and yet they have agreed to answer their critics instead of making the easy choice, to stay away and hide at home. Many sports federations should learn from that attitude.”

The Opening Session of Play the Game 2017 takes place at 26 November from 14-18.30 at Van der Valk Hotel in Eindhoven. Information about the programme, speakers and registration at

In more than 40 sessions, over 150 speakers will present their thoughts and opinions on a wide range of the most topical questions in world sport during the tenth Play the Game conference, taking place in Eindhoven, the Netherlands, 26-30 November 2017.Discover the programme and the continuously updated speakers list.Sign up now and secure yourself four days densely packed with debates, discussions and networking between experts and professionals from sport, media and academia.Read more and register