Sometimes there are odd little intersections between my previous life as an Arabic Linguist in the US Army, and my current lives of coffee and/or soccer. It always brings a small smile to my face.
Well this week, we get to see THE David Beckham travel with AC Milan to Doha, Qatar and face my favorite Middle Eastern club. This is likely going to be the biggest soccer even in Qatari history, and could only be trumped if the final World Cup Qualifier actually matters for the growing nation.
Often sports are free in Qatar, sponsored by the oil-rich government, but in this case tickets are going to cost about 90$. More than that, the stadium will almost certainly be full both of ex-patriots, but also of fans of al-Sadd because al-Sadd is one of the top 3 teams in the nation's young soccer history.
In fact about a week ago al-Sadd's English language site stopped working.
Even more intriguing for the MLS fan is that this match is likely to be the last for David Beckham in the AC Milan kit, as the loan is up March 9th, and nothing has been achieved. The Beckham drama will likely peter out in a desert thousands of miles from Italy and half a world from Los Angeles. The saga will be over as an aging star is used by a Qatari club to grow the game in the Persian Gulf.
For me though the key to the match will be to see how Khalfan Ibrahim Khalfan (sometimes written Khalifan Ibrahim Khalifan) will do against a top UEFA defense. The 20 year old star is showing that he has more than what it takes in the Qatari league scoring nearly a goal a game. With Milan in town the chances that he will be a cheap addition for an upcoming league will certainly disappear.
Lastly, Qatar is bidding for the 2016 Summer Olympics, so any success with an event of this magnitude goes into its magazine as ammo in that bid attempt.