DOHA: Following the overwhelming success of the 2016 edition, the Workers Cup gets bigger and better with the 2017 instalment of the Supreme Committee for Delivery and Legacy (SCDL)-sponsored tournament, which kicks off on 17 February.
In 2017 the competition will involve 32 teams, eight more than last year. More than 600-football loving workers of different nationalities residing in the 2022 FIFA World Cup host nation will participate in the six-week, 80-match tournament, which is organised by the Qatar Stars League (QSL).
As champions Taleb Group look to defend their title, which they won last year in dramatic fashion through a penalty shootout, unlike in the previous editions all teams will have something to play for even after the group stages in 2017.
The third and fourth placed teams of each of the eight four-team groups will compete for a Shield Plate, the final of which will be held on the same day as that of the Champions Trophy involving the top two finishers.
Nakheel Landscapes will hope to emulate their comprehensive 5-0 win against AALCO Group in last year’s opening day action when they take on Bin Omran Trading & Contracting in the 2017 pipe opener on Friday at the Qatar SC Stadium at 6.45pm.
The Workers Cup had emerged as an integral part of Qatar’s domestic football calendar last year with its final day action on 8 May drawing a crowd of 11,000 to the Al Ahli stadium.
Last year’s edition had also elicited lavish praise from FIFA President Gianni Infantino and UN Secretary General for Development and Peace Wilfried Lemke, who were chief guests during the semi-final.
In 2017, 15 of the participating teams have a connection with the SC – 11 of them being current or former contractors engaged in World Cup projects and four involved in the organisation’s flagship CSR programme Generation Amazing.
SCDL Communications Director Fatma Al Nuaimi said the 2017 edition will be as effective as its precursors in demonstrating the power of the beautiful game to bring people together.
“The SC is proud to be supporting the Workers Cup for a fifth year given the joy it brings to both those who participate and their colleagues and friends who attend as fans,” said Al Nuaimi.
“We are confident the 2017 edition will be as effective as previous tournaments have been at uniting Qatar’s diverse migrant communities into one footballing community, demonstrating this sport’s power to bridge cultural differences and bring people together.”
She continued: “We are enormously grateful to the millions of people who have come to Qatar to help us prepare for the tournament and meet the country’s development objectives, as outlined in the Qatar National Vision 2030.
“This tournament forms just one part of the SC’s efforts to ensure the 2022 FIFA World Cup leaves a lasting legacy of enhanced health and well-being for everyone contributing to Qatar’s growth.”
Hassan Al-Kuwari, Executive Director, Marketing and Communications of QSL, added his own words of praise for the forthcoming tournament: “Football is for everyone and the Workers Cup is just one of the ways we make sure that all members of Qatar’s vibrant sporting community have an opportunity to play the sport,” he said.
“The popularity of the tournament is testament to the positive impact it has on the local community and we are proud to be able to give back something to the people preparing this country for the future in such an impactful way.”
For the next six weeks, the passion for football that Qatar’s immigrant workers possess will once again overflow and new heroes such as Jerry Ayitey and Morris Wendo will be born.