Organizers reveal Qatar’s eagerness to host Rugby League World Cup

Qatar has expressed interest in hosting the Rugby League World Cup in 2025, along with three other countries: New Zealand, Fiji, and South Africa. Although this may seem like an unlikely move, given that Qatar has no teams in rugby league and no world ranking, the country has been actively trying to become a central hub for global sports. It recently hosted the men’s soccer World Cup for the first time in 2019, and is set to host the soccer Asian Cup in January 2023, the men’s basketball World Cup in 2027, and the multisport Asian Games in 2030. Furthermore, Qatar is currently aiming to launch a campaign to host the much-anticipated 2036 Olympics.

Rugby league is different from rugby union, which is the version of rugby played at the Olympics, and is based in Australia, New Zealand, and the United Kingdom. Although rugby league International Rugby League President Troy Grant has not yet made any assessments on the viability of Qatar’s bid for the World Cup, he is relieved that they are interested in the sport and the tournament.

Recently, France withdrew its right to host the tournament due to financial reasons. Consequently, the IRL has four potential hosts now, and will have to re-assess how the World Cup will be held in the future. Currently, the men’s, women’s, and wheelchair tournaments are held simultaneously in the same host country. However, this may change depending on which country ends up hosting the tournament.

Despite the ongoing pandemic, Grant remains optimistic that the tournament will push through. He believes that adversity presents a unique opportunity and that IRL should take advantage of it. Although there is a potential option to exit this cycle and create a new one, which will be discussed by the board in June and July, nothing has been set in stone. Ultimately, the fate of the tournament will depend on whether a country can fully meet the financial guarantees of the Rugby League World Cup.

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