CHRISTIAN RADNEDGE in MANCHESTER: The 2022 World Cup in Qatar can have a similar atmosphere to an Olympic Games, according to former England international Michael Owen.
Speaking at the Soccerex Global Convention, Owen likened Qatar’s proposal of a compact World Cup to the feel of an Olympics – citing London 2012 as an example.
“The Olympics was such a great event because it feels like everyone’s together,” he said. “The atmosphere is so good and when you’re flying three hours across a country to get to a game – OK, big countries everyone gets to see you, but having almost a concentrated group of games, it almost feels like a big celebration, a big village, just like it was for an Olympic occasion.
“So I think that’s a big benefit that Qatar is offering.”
The Qatar 2022 organising committee has consistently boasted that the country’s size – less than 12,000 square kilometres – means that teams can have a permanent hotel base and spectators can travel to up to three games in a single day.
What has not been a bonus talking point, however, is the nature of the summer heat in Qatar, which has seen the tournament moved to the months of November-December.
But that is something that Owen, who appeared in three World Cup tournaments for England, believes should not be of major concern to Premier League players and their clubs.
He said: “I think obviously our players should be reasonably fit by then. I think we’re clutching at straws if we think England will win the World Cup because it’s in the winter. But I’ve got no problems at all.
“If I were playing now I would have no problems at all with starting the league season, going away for a World Cup and then finishing the league season.
“It happens in other leagues, so I’ve got no problem at all with that and I don’t think the players will either. It’s logical to play in a country like Qatar when it’s cooler.”