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German football legend and European Club Association (ECA) chairman Karl-Heinz Rummenigge (second left), speaking during the General Assembly of ECA in Doha, yesterday.
BY RIZWAN REHMAT
DOHA: Qatar’s 2022 FIFA World Cup plans are nothing short of ‘astonishing’, German football legend Karl-Heinz Rummenigge said yesterday
“If we heard anyone say anything critical about Qatar’s football plans, we’d tell them to go there first and see the country. The Qatari plans (for the World Cup) are astonishing, I must say,” Rummenigge said in an interview.
“The (football) infrastructure they have here is fantastic. They plan to have a stadium that will seat more than 80,000 spectators. It is an amazing stadium,” Rummenigge said, following a two-day meeting of the European Club Association (ECA).
The 57-year-old was referring to the Losail Iconic Stadium which will host the first match and the final of the 2022 FIFA World Cup in Qatar.
“Their presentation was fantastic,” he said.
“I went to the Khalifa Stadium last night. And I must say that I have never seen such a fine pitch in my entire life,” the chairman of ECA added. “I have played football in many countries like Italy, Spain, England and Germany and I must say Qatar’s facilities are unrivaled,” the former German captain added.
Rummenigge said the decision to award the World Cup to Qatar in a historic FIFA vote in December 2010 was the right move.
“The general impression we get is that we are very positive about the World Cup in Qatar,” Rummenigge said.
“We have a good feeling about all this,” he added.
“I played in three World Cups - in 1978, 1982 and 1986. It was an amazing experience for me as I played in different countries. I was so happy playing in World Cups.
“I am sure players will have a great time playing here,” he said.
“From the moment I landed here in Qatar two days ago, everything is moving according to plan. The responsibility Qatar is showing in their plans towards the fans and players is appreciable,” he added. “Our impression is that Qatar are not just able to organise the competition, but we have the impression that the world can expect a really fantastic World Cup, because of the stadiums, the hotels and the infrastructure. So, we have a very positive impression,” said the Bayern Munich president.
When asked about switching the summer World Cup to winter, Rummenigge said the decision to open a debate on the matter was with FIFA and the global football family.
“We read that UEFA President Michelle Platini said the world should open a debate on this matter. I trust the football fraternity would discuss the matter and make a suitable decision.
“As of now, the World Cup in Qatar is to be held in summer,” he said.
When asked about the cooling technology that Qatar plans to use to bring down high temperatures in player and fan zones, Rummenigge said: “Well, it is a unique plan. I must say that they have sufficient energy to bring this plan to work. I am told that they would stage an international match in two years in searing heat to show that all of this actually works.”
The former Bayern Munich star said it was too early to debate the topic of switching the 2022 World Cup to winter to escape the searing heat in the months of June and July.
“We still have two World Cups to go, one in Brazil (2014) and the other in Russia (2018). There are nine years to go before we arrive in Qatar,” Rummenigge said.
“I am sure we will know about this in the next two or three years.
“I am sure if the decision is made to switch, then the world football family will have time to adjust their schedules accordingly,” Rummenigge said.
When asked about racism in football, Rummenigge said the matter was being dealt with by UEFA.
“You would have seen the jerseys worn by players during Champions League matches. There is a logo with a message against racism,” he said.
“We are against racism in any form. We support this campaign 100 percent in Europe. It is our obligation to root out racism from the sport,” he said.
When reminded of the match-fixing scandal that rocked Europe a few days ago, Rummenigge said the ‘fight’ was on.
“It is a fight that UEFA and governments across Europe are taking on. UEFA and FIFA will share intel on this matter and they are doing everything they can to tackle this problem,” he said.
Altogether, between 1976 and 1986, Rummenigge managed 95 caps and scored 45 goals for the German national team, including one in the 1986 FIFA World Cup Final The Peninsula