x Abu Dhabi, UAESaturday 22 July 2017

Qatar play it cool for World Cup

Solar energy could be harnessed to cool stadiums if Qatar is chosen to host the World Cup finals in the Middle East for the first time.

LONDON // Solar energy could be harnessed to cool stadiums if Qatar is chosen to host the World Cup finals in the Middle East for the first time. Renewable energy would be used to cool players, spectators and officials should the event - the biggest tournament in world football - be held in the Gulf country in 2022. Hassan al Thawadi, the chief executive of the country's bid committee, said the plan was in response to fears raised by the Fifa president Sepp Blatter that the hot and humid conditions would make it difficult to stage the tournament in the Gulf during the summer. He did rule out indoor stadiums.

Qatar failed with a bid to hold the Olympic Games in 2016 over similar concerns. "We would not enter anything without thinking we could win it. We are dedicated to this and believe we have a good chance," said al Thawadi. "This is the right time to show what we can offer in uniting western and eastern cultures, but more importantly leaving legacies for the future generations, including creating a greater understanding of the Middle East for the rest of the world.

"One of the challenges everyone has got in their mind is the question of the weather. We believe we can change perceptions on this point." Sheikh Mohammed bin Hamad bin Khalifa al Thani, the chairman of the Qatar 2022 bid committee, will outline their vision today in a speech at the Leaders in Football Conference in London. Romy Gai, the chief executive of the UAE Football League (UFL), joins the panel highlighting the growth of football in the Middle East.

The Qatari contingent will have gained a valuable insight into what comes with a bid yesterday when the England 2018 campaign team were criticised for "plodding along" by Jack Warner. As the Concacaf president he holds three of the 24 votes, and said England should use their star power to attract votes. "If I had the Premier League, [David] Beckham and the Queen, there would have been many things I could have done for the people who are voting," he said.

"I would have made them next-door neighbours to make them the first name on people's lips." England's main competitors are expected to be Spain and Russia. Australia are also contenders and promoted their bid by giving away bags to delegates at the conference. "Why isn't there a bag for England? My colleagues are saying very quietly that the guys who are coming to them are lightweight. This is the type of thing that loses you a bid," Warner said.

Andy Anson, chief executive of England 2018 Limited, which is behind the Football Association's bid, hit back. "We are here to give keynote speeches, not giving out bags. We have got our own plans, our own timetable and we are working to our own deadlines," he said. "We are not going to be rushed by outside influences. This is the most competitive bid of any Olympics or World Cup there has ever been."

The FA chairman Lord Triesman said they were keen to avoid the disappointment of 2006 when Germany pipped them. "We have had to make it obvious that we have to earn this thing. None of us need anyone to tell us that," he said. "We are not owed it, we have got to earn it and we will only earn it if we have got excellent stadia, passionate fans who will leave a legacy in our own country and who will leave a legacy in the rest of the world. We will do our best to convince people we have earned it on those terms."

@Email:akhan@thenational.ae