Qatar FA president hits back against World Cup detractors

Sheikh Hamad Bin Khalifa Bin Ahmed Al Thani says air-conditioned stadia ‘not flights of fancy’

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The president of the Qatar Football Association has said that “there are legitimate reasons why Qatar beat better known rivals to host the tournament,” but those organising the event – due to be held in eight years’ time – “have struggled to get a hearing.”

Al Thani’s statements were made as a part of an op-ed piece he authored for The Guardian, wherein he argued against allegations of corruption behind Qatar’s victorious bid to host the world cup in 2022.

In a ‘Comment is Free’ piece, Hamad Bin Khalifa Bin Ahmad Al Thani said that: “FIFA members were reassured by our success in staging other major sporting events, such as the 2006 Asian Games, the 2011 Pan-Arab games and the 2011 Asia Cup. Qatar’s compact size gave these events a very different feel, another positive for FIFA members.

“We spoke of a World Cup where teams and fans won’t have to fly huge distances between venues, unlike in Brazil, or in Russia in four years’ time.”

“We are a small country. Temperatures are high in the summer. However unfairly, our wealth alone fuels suspicions,” he said. “But our bid succeeded not because these big questions were ignored but because we provided compelling answers. We won because our bid was seen as the best.”

In November 2013, the Qatar 2022 Supreme Committee released designs for a stadium featuring a cooled pitch; the Al Wakrah Stadium. It was reported that it would feature shaded spectator stands cooled between 24ºC and 28ºC and that the natural grass pitch would be cooled to 26ºC.

The design plan mentioned it would incorporate ‘shading, aerodynamic and mechanical cooling components’, but did not specify the workings of the cooling system.

“It might seem to some that air-conditioned stadiums are flights of fancy, but we have had cooling systems for outdoor events since 2008,” Al Thani said.

“We have invested in research and development to find how cooling could be powered by solar and renewable technologies, which we promised Fifa we would share with other countries.”


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