DOHA/ZURICH: While concerns still shadow Brazil’s preparations for 2013 and 2014 and hooligan eruptions taint Russia’s image ahead of 2018 Qatar is proceeding steadily and intently with its own plans to host the World Cup in 2022 – whether FIFA ultimately decides to stay with a summer or winter staging writes KEIR RADNEDGE.
The scheduling issue if a matter of internal politics within the world football federation and not something which affects the basic scheme of the Qataris who have pledged to provide all the essential sporting and support infrastructure as part of the national development plan.
FIFA learned of the state of progress last week from the Qataris during meetings organised for FIFA officials and stadium consultants with directors of the Qatar 2022 Supreme Committee.
The seal on the work was added by the approving presence this week in Doha of FIFA president Sepp Blatter who will have been pleased to learn of progress, albeit he is (almost!) certain to have retired by the time world football heads for the Gulf state in 2022.
The Q22 delegation was led secretary-general Hassan Al Thawadi along with senior adviser Hamoud Al Subaey and technical director Yasir Al Jamal.
Al Thawadi said: “Our meetings with FIFA were very positive and represent an important step in continuing with our progress toward preparing for the delivery of a successful 2022 World Cup.
“The agreements we have reached for working groups and senior officials to meet on a regular basis provide us with an enhanced framework for exchanging mutual updates and making timely decisions that will ultimately advance and enhance our FIFA World Cup programme.”
Al Thawadi unveiled for FIFA the first draft of what the Qataris describe as the ‘Grand Master Schedule for Stadia Construction. ‘ This provides a framework for timelines of construction for competition and non-competition venues, in addition to key integrated national infrastructure projects (metro, road and utilities, hotel and property developments, 12 stadia, fan zones, entertainment and tourist attractions plus a deep-water port and a causeway connecting Qatar and Bahrain).
A Q22 and FIFA working group will meet every two months for project reviews. A January meeting has been scheduled to to agree a common strategy and deadlines for the stadium design review process.
Al Thawadi said last week that his team was creating a “new concept” for the World Cup, saying: “Everything we offered was a revolution in terms of how a World Cup is hosted. People saw our size as a barrier, but we turned it to our advantage and created a compact World Cup. Visitors will see more than one game in a day without travelling by plane and changing their hotel.
“The weather was an obstacle people considered to be significant. But before we even considered bidding for the World Cup we had developed cooling technology within open air stadiums to cool them to the preferable temperature of 27 degrees.”
Local media reports have quoted Sheikh Khalifa bin Jassim bin Mohammed Al Thani, chairman of the Chamber of Commerce and Industry, as estimating that Qatar’s private sector is in line to be awarded 70pc of all related projects.
The total staging cost has been estimated at $70bn with some $7bn allocated for housing and education for the thousands of new workers expected to move to Qatar over the next 10 years.
One outstanding issue remains concerns over the working and contract conditions of foreign construction workers. The International Trade Union Confederation said recently that it believed it it had extracted a promise from Acting Qatari Labor Minister Nasser bin Abdulla Alhumidi to allow the creation of free and independent trade unions.
# # # #