Doha, 8 October 2019 - 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.
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. In this interview with the Supreme Committee’s website, he speaks about his experiences as a player and his expectations from the 2022 World Cup.
Q: The recent launch of the emblem for the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022 felt like a real milestone in Qatar’s journey on the road to 2022. You are a FIFA World Cup winning captain and an ambassador for the SC. Just how special is this tournament, and what can the world expect in 2022?
A: The world can expect a fantastic tournament! I have never seen such preparation like 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 have 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 tournamentwe’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.
Q: Twenty years prior to Qatar 2022, you led your country to FIFA World Cup glory – something only an elite few will ever feel. What is it like to get your hands on that golden trophy?
A: 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.
Q: Football is often said to be a unifying power. Have you witnessed this already in your career, and how do you think Qatar’s World Cup can achieve these ambitions?
A: Football is one of the most powerful tools for unity. Many times in history conflicts have come to a pause because of an important match, or to watch an important player, like Pelé, for example. I was told by a historian that in the early days of the sport, the factory owners in England organised their teams and arranged for matches to happen so their workers wouldn’t fight in the streets! You just need a football and all the differences are left off the field.
Qatar is preparing the best fields and inviting the world to play ball. Everyone is welcome and 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.
Q: How do you think Qatar’s World Cup will be unique from others?
A: 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. It will be fantastic!
Q: What makes Qatar the perfect host for 2022 and, to those travelling for it, what do you say to them?
A: 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.
Q: You’ve been a regular visitor to Qatar – do you think the country and region are misunderstood, and what would you say to those who are not sure whether to travel?
A: First of all, the local people are extremely kind. Everyone I have met has been warm, polite and from what I can tell, passionate about football and really proud of hosting the World Cup. Plus, you have sun, beaches and the sea! Aspire is also showing greats results with the promising national team. Not to mention the amazing museums. I visited the new Qatar National Museum last May and was really impressed. Lastly, let’s not forget the restaurants and amazing food you have there. I’m sure I gain a few pounds every time I visit! It’s always such a pleasure to be in Qatar and I’m sure all visitors will have an unforgettable experience in 2022.