Qatar plans surprise bid for 2018 World Cup

The gas- and oil-rich state is keen to bring one of the world's major events to its tiny peninsula which juts out into the Arabian Gulf, and after a snub by the International Olympic Committee (IOC) at its meeting in Athens last week, it will concentrate instead on challenging England, among others, for the right to host football's flagship tournament.

Qatar had been waiting to see the outcome of its Olympic bid before deciding to formally state an intention to bid for the World Cup, but it is now expected to announce its candidature within weeks.

"They are deadly serious about bringing a major event to Qatar and after the Olympics, the World Cup was always next on their list," said an insider who is close to the Emir.

An earlier plan of co-hosting the event with the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain has been shelved.

Qatar has already staged the 2006 Asian Games and is due to host the 2011 Asian Cup.

The UAE last month submitted a bid to Fifa to host the Club World Cup in 2009 or 2010 and has talked openly of trying for the 2018 World Cup.

"There is a lot of competition between Qatar and the UAE to stage a major event first, and the Emir is determined that Qatar should win," said the insider. "They will not give up until they get something."

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