Russian President Vladimir Putin on Sunday handed over the mantle of World Cup host to the emir of Qatar, whose country will stage the 2022 edition of the tournament.
The ceremony marked a handover from the world’s largest country by landmass to one of the smallest. Qatar has a population of 2.3 million people and an area slightly smaller than the U.S. state of Connecticut.
Qatar’s size, as well as its broiling temperatures and its lack of ready stadium infra-structure, have prompted some to question the decision by FIFA, soccer’s world governing body, to make it host. Qatar’s rulers say they will rise to the challenge.
With hours to go until the final between France and Croatia that will bring down the curtain on Russia’s hosting of this year’s tournament, Qatari Emir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad al-Thani joined Putin and FIFA chief Gianni Infantino at a Kremlin ceremony.
“Russia is handing over the relay baton for hosting the FIFA World Cup to Qatar,” Putin said.