Qatar 2022 chief ready to prove World Cup doubters wrong
Hassan Al-Thawadi, secretary general of the Qatar 2022 Supreme Committee, says they will prove the doubters wrong by showing why their successful World Cup bid was the “best”.
Ever since the Gulf state was named as host nation for football’s showpiece event three years ago, it has faced a storm of criticism.
A corruption investigation has been launched into the bidding processes for the 2018 and 2022 World Cups, and now worker’s rights have come to the fore following a report by Amnesty that highlighted poor conditions for those helping to build the infrastructure for the Qatar tournament.
Concerns about playing during high summer temperatures have also forced FIFA to set up a commission to discuss switching it to a winter tournament and a November date.
And Al-Thawadi, speaking at Doha GOALS, said: “If FIFA and the football community decide and want to move the World Cup to winter, whether it’s November or any other time, we are more than happy to accommodate them.
“We won it, our preparations are for summer mainly because the legacy that we have behind it and the technology. But in preparing for a summer World Cup, it allows us to be prepared for a summer or winter World Cup. We are ready for any time.
“Yes, the focus is on Qatar nine years ahead, and it is much more intense and in certain areas much more vicious.
“But any other nation that has hosted a major tournament has faced the same kind of criticism, the same kind of doubts and scepticism, including London 2012.
“And because of that, you learn one thing. You will hear the doubters, you will hear people talking to you, you will hear people telling you, ‘no you can’t’ and ‘why should you’ or ‘why did you?’. The point is, you shouldn’t be diverted by a lot of these questions and showcase some others around the actual results.
“Why did we win it? Without wanting to sound arrogant, we were the best bid, we were the best bid in terms of messages. We put the effort in and now having won the bid, we are working towards showcasing to the world what our legacy is about and why the World Cup is in the Middle East.
“There are so many misconceptions about the Middle East and the World Cup in 2022 will go a long way to showing the world the friendliness, hospitality and sense of humour of the Middle East. It is a great opportunity for us all to come together. We would like for people to understand who we are and what we are.”
Al-Thawadi said the Qataris had no concern about the corruption claims and were looking to address the issues of workers.
He said: “When can you judge worker’s welfare? I don’t think you can set any timeline because it depends on each different nation and the level they are in.
“But from December 2, 2010, Qatar 2022 has been committed towards workers welfare and we have always indicated very clearly that the initiatives we are undertaking are a continuation of the initiatives the Government is taking and governmental and non-governmental agencies are taking.
“We have awarded our first contracts for early work on the Al-Wakrah Stadium and I am very proud to say that it contains in it provisions for our workers welfare standards and addresses issues from accommodation to renumeration.
“And also an area that we don’t have full control over but we are addressing it, is recruitment fees that originate from sending countries. So you will see the results on the ground day by day.
“In terms of the allegations we are very confident of the integrity of our bid. We have always said that and if you notice, the stories that come up are the sort of stories that come up again and again. We move forward and keep moving forward.”
One of the ways Qatar is moving forward was highlighted yesterday when they launched the new Josoor Institute, a centre of excellence designed to give world-class education and training facilities to the Middle East.
Al-Thawadi added: “We launched the Josoor Institute which was the first step to ensuring our legacy and an attempt at developing a sporting industry as well as major events economy within the Middle East.
“In terms of Josoor Institute, it could be a ramp-up for Qatar to bid for 2024 [Olympics]. It could be a ramp-up for another Arab or Middle Eastern nation also. This is the whole purpose of the Institute and the purpose of the World Cup. Our legacy for 2022 is for 2024 and 2025.”
His Excellency Salah bin Ghanem bin Nasser Al Ali, Qatar’s Minister of Youth and Sport, added: “I am certain that the Josoor Institute will play an important role in Qatar, by preparing Qatari youth to assist in our great nation’s hosting of a truly amazing 2022 FIFA World Cup.”