DOHA: Qatar won the FIFA 2022 World Cup bid because its bid was seen the best and it gave convincing answers to all the relevant questions, Sheikh Hamad bin Khalifa bin Ahmed Al Thani, Chairman of Qatar Football Association (QFA) (PICTURED) has said.
In an article published in the British daily Guardian on Friday, Sheikh Hamad said: “And despite all you may have heard over the last few weeks, there are also good and legitimate reasons why Qatar beat better known rivals to host the tournament in eight years’ time. It is just that we have struggled to get a hearing.”
“I accept that we spent more money campaigning than other bids, but this was solely to catch up with our better known rivals. We had to tell people about our country and what we could offer. But from the day we launched our bid to the day our victory was announced in Zurich, we played strictly by the rules. It is why we are happy to cooperate fully with the FIFA inquiry into the bidding process. We have nothing to hide or fear.”
“This has not stopped a barrage of increasingly wild accusations. Interpol this week, for instance, ‘completely’ dismissed the Sunday Times’s claim that it had called for a criminal investigation into the 2022 decision,” he added.
“Qatar does not have a rich ¬football history. We are a small country. Temperatures are high in the summer. However unfairly, our wealth alone fuels suspicions. But our bid succeeded not because these big questions were ignored but because we provided ¬compelling answers. We won because our bid was seen as the best.
Qatar’s football history may be much younger than in Europe or South America but the passion for the game here and across the Middle East is every bit as intense. FIFA members understood this and were keen to take the tournament to a new region,” wrote Sheikh Hamad.
He pointed that the World Cup finals in the US in 1994, in Japan and South Korea in 2002 and South Africa in 2010 helped build football’s global popularity, adding that this is the chance to take the tournament to the many millions of football fans in the Middle East.
“FIFA members were reassured, too, by our success in staging other major sporting events, such as the 2006 Asian Games, the 2011 Pan-Arab Games and the 2011 Asia Cup. Qatar’s compact size gave these events a very different feel, another positive for FIFA members. We spoke of a World Cup where teams and fans won’t have to fly huge distances between venues, unlike in Brazil, or in Russia in four years’ time. They recognised as well that Qatar is a stable and peaceful society with one of the lowest crime rates in the world,” said Sheikh Hamad.
“The heat of our summer is seen by some critics as the main reason why we could not possibly have won fair and square. But we showed how matches could be played and watched in comfortable conditions. Playing the tournament in winter was not part of our bid. It might seem to some that air—conditioned stadiums are flights of fancy, but we have had cooling systems for outdoor events since 2008.
“We set out to FIFA how we wanted the World Cup to be a catalyst for positive change in our region. We have been as good as our word and have already taken steps, for instance, to modernise our labour laws. We also stressed our strong belief that staging the finals in the Middle East would improve understanding within and beyond the region.”
“There are sadly plenty of divisions and misunderstandings in our world, but the shared passion for football can shake prejudices and unite people around what they have in common. This message – which has never been more important – was at the heart of our bid. It is also why we look forward to welcoming the world to our country in 2022: it will be an amazing event,” wrote Sheikh Hamad.