x Abu Dhabi, UAEFriday 28 July 2017

Bin Hammam rejects Qatar sharing World Cup

President of the Asian Football Confederation, Mohamed bin Hammam, says Qatar is more than capable of hosting the 2022 World Cup without help from its Gulf neighbours.

Mohamed bin Hammam, a Qatari national. Kin Cheung / AP Photo
Mohamed bin Hammam, a Qatari national. Kin Cheung / AP Photo

DOHA // If football fans in the UAE are hoping to get a part of the 2022 World Cup, they will be disappointed that Mohamed bin Hammam, the Asian Football Confederation (AFC) president and a Qatari national, said he does not want Qatar to share the tournament with other Gulf nations.

Eleven years hence, Qatar, who have never qualified for the World Cup finals, will become the first Arab and Middle East country to host the World Cup. They also will be the smallest host nation to stage the game's greatest showpiece, with a population of 1.7 million.

Given Qatar's size and the summer heat in the region, concerns have been raised about the country's ability to successfully host the World Cup.

Sepp Blatter, the Fifa president, suggested during a visit to Abu Dhabi for the Club World Cup tournament in December that some 2022 matches "could take place in nearby countries", raising hopes that the UAE, whose football chiefs were praised for successfully staging two installments of Fifa's continental club tournament, could be in line to benefit.

Michel Platini, the Uefa president, recently suggested that the event could be shared with other Gulf states, too.

Hammam, however, is opposed to the idea of sharing the tournament, as well as moving it to January, an idea also backed by Blatter and Platini.

"I believe Qatar can stand alone and organise the competition by itself," bin Hammam said in an interview with Sky News.

"I'm really not very impressed by these opinions to distribute the game over the Gulf or change the time from July to January.

"It's premature. It's people's opinions and they're just discussing it on no basis or no ground."

For the dates of the 2022 World Cup to change, or for games to be staged in other countries, the Qatar Football Association would need to petition Fifa with a revision to its successful bid, which seems unlikely given bin Hammam's less than receptive view on the subject.

"It's not up to one, two, or three members of Fifa to talk about changing the time without getting the real stakeholders' opinions," said bin Hammam.

arizvi@thenational.ae