Blow to Qatar's 2022 bid as FIFA brands it "high risk"

Gulf country only one of nine bid countries to be branded "high risk" due to summer temps
BUILDING STADIUMS: Qatar plans to build nine stadiums and upgrade three in its bid to stage the 2022 FIFA World Cup. (Getty Images)
By Bloomberg
Thu 18 Nov 2010 09:53 AM

Qatar’s
bid to host the soccer World Cup is the only one of nine contenders to stage
the event in 2018 or 2022 to receive an overall “high” operational risk rating
from the sport’s governing body.

The
country has set aside $50bn to complete works if it wins the right to become
the first Middle East host of the World Cup, in 2022. An official document sent
by FIFA to its 24-member decision-making body also listed Qatar’s facilities
for teams as “high risk.”

In
a separate FIFA assessment of all bids made public yesterday, the Gulf state’s
suitability to host sport’s most- watched event was questioned because of the
“potential health risk” posed by its summer temperatures - which can reach more
than 46 degrees centigrade (115 degrees Fahrenheit) - and challenges linked to
having 12 stadiums within a 20-mile radius.

“We
recognize that concerns have been expressed about climatic conditions in Qatar
in the summer months,” the bid’s chief executive officer Hassan Al-Thawadi said
in a statement.

“The
precautions referred to in the report have already been put in place with our
proposed air-cooled solutions for stadiums, training sites, fans zones and
other outdoor areas.”

Qatar
2022 had no further comment to add on the document sent to FIFA’s executive
committee.

Russia’s
proposal to stage the 2018 World Cup is the only other bid not to get an
overall “low risk” rating. The country is a “medium risk” operationally amid
concerns over its airports and international connections, which are rated as
high- risk.

“Risks in the operational area that FIFA has
flagged up in their Bid Evaluation Report are already being addressed and will
all be solved well ahead of the 2018 FIFA World Cup, should Russia be awarded
the honor to stage the event,” Andreas Herren, a spokesman for the bid, said in
a statement.

With
the final vote set for December 2, other bidding nations have reacted to the
publication of the evaluation reports by FIFA.

The
US, which is competing with Qatar as well as Australia, Japan, and South Korea
for 2022, hasn’t received government guarantees required to stage the 32-team
tournament.

The
bid committee’s Executive Director David Downs said all those guarantees have
been signed, but were modified because of US law.

“We
have been in conversations with FIFA about this and they are comfortable with
the situation,” Downs said.

Of
the 2022 bidders, the US, South Korea and Australia had more “low risk” marks
than Japan and Qatar in the 17 categories listed in FIFA’s report.

“Our
bid has ticked all of the boxes and our full government guarantees mean we
really will be a ‘no worries,’ friendly and safe option for FIFA and the
football fans of the world,” Football Federation Australia CEO Ben Buckley said
in a statement.

England
and Spain/Portugal’s joint offer posed the overall lowest risk in the
all-European race for 2018. Then came Netherlands/Belgium and Russia. FIFA has
expressed concerns about the practicality of joint bids.

Andy
Anson, chief executive of England’s 2018 effort, said the technical reports
won’t be the only factor in determining who gets the event, which is worth $5bn
according to a report commissioned by the US bid.

“I
don’t know if technical reports can win bids but I know they can lose them,”
Anson told reporters in London yesterday.

England’s
bid has rebounded from the possible damage done to it by revelations in the
Sunday Times newspaper that led to the suspension of two FIFA executive
committee officials, Anson said.

Nigeria’s
Amos Adamu and Tahiti’s Reynald Temarii allegedly told undercover reporters
their votes could be bought. They may be expelled from FIFA today when the
findings of an investigation are announced.

England
last week wrote to the voters to dissociate the bid from the country’s media
after officials including FIFA President Sepp Blatter questioned the methods
used to uncover information. Anson also visited the British Broadcasting
Corp.’s Director General Mark Thompson over a documentary about FIFA that the
broadcaster is planning to run days before the final vote.

“If
they truly believe there’s a journalistic reason for this they could have done
it any time in the last two years. To do it like this is sensationalism,” Anson
said. “I didn’t ask him for anything but all I said was, ‘Here are the
potential implications.’ It’s not very patriotic of the BBC.”

 

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