x Abu Dhabi, UAETuesday 25 July 2017

Yousuf Al Serkal calls sharing Qatar 2022 World Cup 'a crazy idea'

UAE football chief Yousuf Al Serkal is running for AFC president and is in full support of Qatar solely hosting the World Cup in 2022.

UAE football chief Yousuf Al Sarkal is running for Asian Football Confederation president and like goal-line technology. Ali Haider / EPA
UAE football chief Yousuf Al Sarkal is running for Asian Football Confederation president and like goal-line technology. Ali Haider / EPA

Michel Platini's suggestion that Qatar should share the 2022 World Cup hosting rights with its Arabian Gulf neighbours was "crazy", the UAE football chief Yousuf Al Serkal said Thursday.

Platini, the Uefa president, has long called for football's showpiece to be shared by the Arab state and that the tournament should be moved to the end of the year to avoid the soaring temperature in June and July.

The Frenchman, tipped to succeed the Fifa president Sepp Blatter, reiterated his stance last Saturday, but Al Serkal, who is chasing the presidency of the Asian Football Confederation at their May elections, found the idea humorous.

"It is a crazy idea," Al Serkal, the head of the UAE Football Association, said after breaking into a laugh. "First of all this cannot happen. The Fifa executive committee has already taken a decision and awarded the 2022 World Cup to the Qataris.

"We support Qatar to host the World Cup independently and we are not interested in any sharing.

"On the contrary, we have put ourselves at the disposal of the Qataris for any support they might require, be it logistically or whatever."

Al Serkal, who is also a vice-president of the Asian Football Confederation (AFC), said he was a fan of the introduction of goal-line technology, an issue which Platini staunchly opposes.

"I think it is a good idea. I had attended an FA board meeting in England and Fifa had explained the whole idea behind the technology and I am definitely a supporter," he said in the telephone interview.

"It's a good thing."

Al Serkal was in Jordan on Wednesday at a meeting with the West Asian Football Federation where he was seeking support among the 12 other member associations in the region ahead of the AFC vote on May 2.

He is up against Bahrain's Sheikh Salman bin Ibrahim Al Khalifa, Saudi Arabia's Hafez Ibrahim Al Medlej and Thailand's Worawi Makudi. Fifa executive committee member Makudi already has the backing of the 12 votes from the South-east Asia federation and appears well on his way to claiming the necessary majority from the AFC's 47 member associations.

His hand is helped by the split in the West Asian vote.

Negotiations to try to settle on a single candidate from West Asia failed at the Amman meeting, which Bahrain's Sheikh Salman missed, with further discussions planned next month. Al Serkal virtually ruled out the possibility of a consensus candidate.

"There is a good chance that there will be an understanding between me and Al Medlej. We will continue an open-minded dialogue between us," Al Serkal said.

"But at this moment it is unlikely that there will be any agreement between us and Sheikh Salman," he said of the Bahraini, who is part of the ruling family.

Sheikh Salman is also in the running for a seat on Fifa's executive committee along with Hassan Al Thawadi from Qatar. The Bahraini narrowly failed to take a Fifa executive committee seat in 2009.

"Choosing between Sheikh Salman and Al Thawadi, I will definitely back the Qatari," Al Serkal said.

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