The UAE would be willing to step in and help Qatar host matches during the FIFA World Cup 2022, according to the head of the UAE Football Association (UFA), but only if the sport’s world governing body green lights the idea.
Tiny Gulf state Qatar won the rights to host the prestigious tournament in controversial circumstances in a 2010 vote and plans to spend up to $115bn on developing infrastructure over the next decade in preparation, including 12 state-of-the-art air conditioned stadiums.
Yousuf Al Serkal, UFA president and vice-president of the Asian Football Confederation (AFC), suggested that the UAE would be ready to take responsibility for hosting parts of the World Cup if necessary, following a similar suggestion by UEFA boss Michel Platini.
“We will support them if they need any kind of support at any time, but as far as I know from my experience of the Qatar Football Federation, they are capable, they have the knowledge and the know-how,” he told reporters in Dubai on Monday.
However, he said any decision to change the host country from the tournament must come from FIFA, world football’s top governing body, rather than the Qataris or any other Gulf countries.
“If it’s a different venue in a different country, the decision has to come from FIFA. It will not come from us, or the Qataris. If the Qataris would like us to help... it’s only if they will request, that we are willing to,” Al Serkal added.
The decision to award the event to Qatar also raised eyebrows due to intense heat in the country over summer, when the tournament is held, with temperatures reaching up to 40 degrees Celsius.
Al Serkal said he supported any proposal to move the World Cup to winter, when weather conditions in Qatar are more temperate.
“The players will not perform their best [over summer], this will impact the image of the game,” he said. “I support, if the decision will be taken, if the event will be played in January. If FIFA decides to change the timing from June to January, it will be a good idea.”
Al Serkal is currently promoting his candidacy to be the next president of the AFC, with elections taking place in June. Rivals for the position include Bahrain’s Sheikh Salman Bin Ibrahim Al-Khalifa and Saudi Arabia's Hafez Ibrahim Al Medlej.
Subscribe to Arabian Business' newsletter to receive the latest breaking news and business stories in Dubai,the UAE and the GCC straight to your inbox.