KUALA LUMPUR: Asian football president Sheikh Salman bin Ebrahim Al Khalifa has come out with an economically-phrased vote of support for Qatar’s 2022 World Cup organisers writes KEIR RADNEDGE.
Sheikh Salman had no option but to express his full confidence in Qatar’s denials of wrongdoing in the face of weekend allegations in The Sunday Times.
Firstly, the Bahraini was duty bound to stand up for one of his own member associations and, particularly, the first Middle East nation ever to be awarded host rights to the World Cup.
Secondly, with his eye on AFC politics, he has been supported by Qatar in his attempt to merge the roles of confederation president and Asian FIFA vice-president. At present the FIFA role is held by Prince Ali bin Al Hussein of Jordan.
A political struggle between the two men over the issue will come to a head an an extraordinary AFC Congress in Sao Paulo next week on the eve of the start of the World Cup finals.
Shaikh Salman said: “Hosting the FIFA World Cup in Asia, especially in the Middle East, means a lot to the continent.” He was looking forward “to seeing a successful FIFA World Cup in Qatar.”
His statement, issued through the AFC, added: “The AFC President is convinced that the Qatar 2022 Supreme Committee for Delivery and Legacy, will do their utmost to clear the doubts.”
Sheikh Salman has an extra role in the process.
He is overseeing the worldwide consultation ordered by FIFA last year to consider the pros and cons of switching the 2022 World Cup finals to winter date to avoid Qatar’s searing summer temperatures.
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