Monday 07 October 2019, 07:32

Cafu: Football is a powerful tool for unity

  • Cafu is an ambassador for the Supreme Committee for Delivery & Legacy

  • Won two FIFA World Cups with Brazil

  • On Qatar 2022: "Everyone will be made to feel very welcome"

Former Brazil captain and two-time FIFA World Cup™ winner Cafu lifted more than 20 trophies in a career spanning 18 years. The ex-Roma and AC Milan star also remains the record cap holder for his country, making 148 international appearances, and the only Brazilian player to have played in three consecutive editions of the FIFA World Cup.

As an ambassador for the Supreme Committee for Delivery & Legacy (SC), he works closely with Josoor Institute, a centre of excellence for the sports and events industries in the Middle East. He passes on his vast experience in sport to the next generation of sports and events professionals, fuelling the rapid growth of these sectors across the region.

The FIFA Legend spoke to after the recent launch of the Official Emblem for Qatar 2022.

The emblem launch for Qatar 2022 felt like a real milestone in Qatar’s journey on the road to 2022. What can the world expect in 2022?

The world can expect a fantastic tournament! I've never seen such preparation as what is being done for 2022. I’ve been fortunate enough to visit Qatar on a number of occasions now and the progress and speed of change is like something I've never seen before. The stadiums, transportation and infrastructure that’s being built is fantastic. I’m sure it will make for a memorable experience in 2022 for all those who attend. Every World Cup is different in its own way, but I strongly believe Qatar’s will be the most unique tournament we’ve ever seen – everything is so different from previous editions of the World Cup, it will make for something very special. Of that I have no doubt.

In 2002, you led your country to World Cup glory – something only an elite few will ever feel. What's it like to get your hands on that golden trophy?

Every boy dreams of being a football champion. What can be better than being one of the few privileged people who get to accomplish their childhood dreams? During my career I was fortunate enough to play in some wonderful teams and alongside some incredible players. The teams I was in won a lot of trophies and enjoyed great successes, but being a world champion representing your country is an emotion that cannot be translated into words. It is a moment I will remember every day for the rest of my life.

Football is often said to be a unifying power. Have you witnessed this already in your career, and how do think Qatar’s World Cup can achieve these ambitions?

Football is one of the most powerful tools for unity. You just need a football and all the differences are left off the field. Qatar is preparing the best pitches and inviting the world to play. From my experiences in the country I know everyone will be made to feel very welcome when they arrive there, from the first moment to the last. It will be a great opportunity for Qatar to welcome many people from around the world. There are very few things in the world outside of football that can create this kind of scenario.

How do you think Qatar’s World Cup will be unique?

The World Cup in Qatar will be unique in many ways. This will be the first tournament in an Arab country. Being in a smaller area, stadiums, teams and fans will be closer to each other than ever before. The visitors will arrive right in the centre of all the celebrations, with short commutes between matches, no air travel and the comfort of an amazing infrastructure that’s being prepared.

What do you say to those planning on travelling to Qatar 2022?

As well as the climate – which I know will be around 25C at that time of year and perfect for playing and watching football – I think the fans will enjoy something totally unique in 2022. And as well as the short distances and no mid-tournament air travel required, fans will be able to go to many more games than they would at other tournaments – it will have an ‘Olympics’ feel to it, where everyone is together in one area. Fans may watch their nation in the afternoon and then in the evening go and watch two other national teams play – this has never really been possible before.