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Sun 28 Sep 2014 11:08 AM

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MidEast must unite behind Qatar World Cup, says Saudi football legend

Sami Al Jaber also backed claims by Qatar's Emir that "heat won’t be a problem" for the 2022 tournament

MidEast must unite behind Qatar World Cup, says Saudi football legend

Former Saudi Arabian football legend Sami Al Jaber called
on the Middle East to unite behind the Qatar World Cup 2022 against criticism
the summer heat in the Gulf state will be an obstacle to hosting the
tournament, it was reported.

“First of all I would like to encourage everyone in
the Middle East to unite as one, because we don’t just represent Qatar, we
represent the Middle East. It is a region which has the right to host the World
Cup and the ability to host the World Cup,” said Al Jaber, who represented Saudi
Arabia at four consecutive FIFA World Cup tournaments from 1994 to 2006.

“We are talking about 750 million people in the
Middle East, who are waiting for that moment, waiting for that opportunity, to
host the World Cup as one of our rights for the people of the Middle East, the
Arab world, and the Gulf. The World Cup is always hosted in Europe and South
America, it was also held in Africa. We have never had the opportunity, but now
we do with the 2022 World Cup and it’s an important tournament that I hope we
can host successfully. I came back today after four years. Back then I saw
Qatar 2022 as ideas and a concept, and now I have seen it develop and it is
being made into a reality and implemented on the ground,” he said at the
weekend during a visit to the headquarters of the Supreme Committee for
Delivery & Legacy (SC) in Doha.

“I always follow what is published about Qatar, and
sometimes what I see and read makes me laugh. I experienced Qatar’s bid since
its inception and I know the potential that exists in Qatar. I believe that
this campaign will not stop until the tournament, so we must always be ready to
face such circumstances and to deal with any problem that may arise in the
future,” he was quoted as saying by the Qatar Football Association (QFA).

Despite the resources being thrown at high-tech
cooling techniques, scepticism about Qatar's ability to stage a World Cup in the
summer have not gone away. Last week, Theo Zwanziger, the former German
football association (DFB) chief and a member of the FIFA Executive Committee, suggested
the tournament would have to move because of scorching temperatures, which can reach into the mid 40s Celsius in the summer.

"I personally think that in the end the 2022
World Cup will not take place in Qatar," he told Sport Bild magazine in Germany. "Medics
say that they cannot accept responsibility with a World Cup taking place under
these conditions."

However, Al Jaber, who was the first ambassador for
Qatar’s 2022 bid, dismissed the views as he was briefed on the cooling
technology developed for the tournament.

“During my visit, I was briefed on the details of
the cooling technology and I think we need such technology in football, not
only in our region, but for any country with the same climate. I remember how
we suffered from the heat and climate during the 1994 FIFA World Cup, where the
games began at 12:30 and the temperature and humidity affected the performance
of our players,” he said.

Late last week, Qatar’s Emir, HH Sheikh Tamim bin
Hamad Al Thani, echoed the views when he said the Gulf state was capable of hosting the tournament in
summer or winter and heat would not be an issue.

“Our (World Cup) bid was for summer. At the end it
will up to FIFA to decide when (to host the event). But for us we are ready for
both because we have this (cooling) technology,” Sheikh Tamim said during an
interview with CNN’s Christiane Amanpour.

“Our bid for was for it (the World Cup) to be in
summer. (But) we have a new technology that is being used in a stadium for the
last 10 years now… It works in one of the stadiums (Al Sadd Stadium). We tried
it for 10 years. It will work (in 2022 also). It will be working 100 percent.

“The facilities for the athletes, fans and the
players and the training grounds will be excellent. We have tried this. We
tried (cooling) the fans zones in Qatar (when the last World Cup was held in
Brazil). Thousands of fans turned up so we know heat won’t be a problem,” the
Emir added.

FIFA President Sepp Blatter said in May that
awarding the World Cup to Qatar was a 'mistake' and the tournament would
probably have to be held in the European winter.

"The Qatar technical report indicated clearly
that it is too hot in summer, but the executive committee with quite a big
majority decided all the same that the tournament would be in Qatar," he
said.

FIFA is looking at the option of shifting the
tournament to January/February 2022 or November/December 2022 - both of which
would be unpopular because of disruption to the domestic seasons in Europe and
around the world.

Asian Football Confederation (AFC) president Sheikh
Salman Bin Ebrahim Al Khalifa chaired a meeting to discuss the matter earlier
this month.

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Paul 5 years ago

This is not a racial, sectarian, national or regional driven resistance.
It has nothing to do with the fact that Qatar is Arab, Islamic, Middle East of GCC country.
It only has to do with other factors that this article and some tend to flag to hide the true reason.
The reason is the abusive systematic abuse of labors, tiny country with one city, local culture not computable with World Cup culture, corruption allegations in the bidding process, high temperatures in June and maybe 2 or 3 other factors....
This is not about ethnicity, religion or politics!
Other MENA countries would be more suitable: Iran, Turkey, Egypt, Lebanon, Jordan, Algeria and Morocco.