British and Irish Lions: Qatar aiming to host a game during 2025 Australia tour
Qatar has set their sights on rugby union following the football World Cup, according to a report in the Daily Mail, with the British and Irish Lions their big target.
The Arab country recently hosted the round ball showpiece and are looking to expand into other sports, especially ones with Olympic connections.
With Sevens part of the games, the Qatar Rugby Federation are seeking to host one leg of the World Rugby Sevens Series in the future.
That could then pave the way for a Sevens World Cup as the Qataris seek to make a significant impact in the sport.
Although the 15-a-side Rugby World Cup is considered ‘beyond them’ at the moment, they hope to make a statement by having the Lions play there for a one-off match.
According to the Mail, Qatar hope to replicate the Hong Kong encounter from 2013, where the Lions faced the Barbarians prior to the three-Test series against the Wallabies.
“The success of the World Cup has shown that we can stage the biggest international events in this country,” A source told the Daily Mail.
“Qatar is already due to stage the 2030 Asian Games, and there’s talk of an Olympic bid in 2036, so we’re focusing on growing the Olympic sports. Rugby Sevens fits with that model, and we have the infrastructure to stage global events.
“A full rugby World Cup would be beyond us, but we could definitely stage a one-off Lions Test and a Sevens tournament. Sevens only needs one stadium and is completed in three days.”
The country have been accused of using sports to take attention away from allegations of wrongdoing, which includes human rights abuses.
Should rugby union decide to take games and events to Qatar, it would be a controversial move, especially considering the furore surrounding the recent football World Cup.
However, the sport already has a World Rugby Sevens Series leg in the United Arab Emirates, a country which, according to several organisations, violates fundamental human rights.
Freedom of speech is limited, while the media is censored to avoid criticising the government.
A match in Qatar would therefore raise further questions over whether rugby’s governing bodies put finance before basic human rights.
READ MORE: Loose Pass: Some rare Welsh cheer amidst financial woes, a lacklustre competition and silly jargon