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FIFA President Sepp Blatter addresses the official opening ceremony of Doha Goals Forum at Aspire Dome in Doha, yesterday. The three-day event ends today.
DOHA: Seeing the FIFA World Cup go to the Middle East for the first time has been one of Sepp Blatter’s greatest achievement as an administrator, the head of the global ruling body said in a candid chat yesterday.
Football-loving Qatar beat the US, Japan, Korea and Australia to win the 2022 FIFA World Cup hosting rights after a tense battle that concluded on December 2, 2010.
“We went to Asia in 2002 with Korea and Japan hosting the matches. Then we went to South Africa in 2010. When we took the Cup to Africa, a crown prince from Saudi Arabia asked me ‘I am happy that you have taken the World Cup to Africa, but one day you should try to bring the World Cup to the Arab world’,” Blatter said while addressing a gathering at the Doha Goals Forum.
The FIFA president said that with Brazil hosting the World Cup in 2014 followed by Russia in 2018 and Qatar four years later, the World Cup will have touched all corners of the globe.
Qatar winning the bid to host the 2022 World Cup meant yet another target achieved for the world football administrator. “We (FIFA) did it (taking the World Cup to different regions of the world). This was a goal (taking the World Cup to an Arab country) which we achieved,” said Blatter, who flew to Japan yesterday evening to attend the 2012 FIFA Club World Cup.
“The cycle has been complete with Asia (2002), Germany (Europe) and Africa (2010) and the next World Cup in Brazil. We will host the 2018 Cup in Russia, which has not hosted any major tournaments since 2008,” Blatter said.
Blatter said he had another goal when he took over as head of the football governing body.
“When I took over the presidency of FIFA I set two goals. One initiative was for national association to have their own football house, training pitch and training centre, under the Goal Project,” Blatter said.
“I am happy that of all the 209 associations, except for South Sudan, the FIFA has been able to achieve the target under the Goal project,” said Blatter, who is into the third term as President of FIFA.
In Japan, the FIFA President will also chair the FIFA Executive Committee’s final meeting of the year. The FIFA president also focused on the social dimension of the game.
“In sports, we have discipline, respect and fair play, but sport is also combative sport. We need combine all the elements of sports and integrate them in society,” said Blatter, who has been working with FIFA in various capacities since 1975.
Blatter also expressed confidence that the Doha Goals Forum will be able to provide best solutions and all the initiatives taken and to be planned by the Forum will be able to meet the targets in the future.
The FIFA President also visited the headquarters of the Qatar 2022 Supreme Committee, chaired by Heir Apparent H H Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani.
The Committee’s Secretary-General, Hassan Al Thawadi offered a very comprehensive presentation of the current status of the preparations for hosting the FIFA World Cup.
“It was a pleasure to be in Doha and an honour to meet again the Emir of Qatar, H H Sheikh Hamad bin Khalifa Al Thani,” the FIFA President said in a report in a report published on FIFA website.
“I was impressed to see the level of preparations for the 2022 FIFA World Cup. Our Qatari colleagues and friends are doing a very professional job,” Blatter said.THE PENINSULA