SYDNEY: Veteran Australian forward Tim Cahill has talked up Qatar and its potential as 2022 World Cup host writes KEIR RADNEDGE.
In an interview with a local TV station after the Socceroos’ surprise 1-0 defeat by the Gulf state, Cahill expressed opinions in marked contrast to those of fellow Australian Mark Schwarzer.
A week ago, at a conference in London, Schwarzer described the World Cup award as “ridiculous” and “two or three people to drop dead” before FIFA realised Qatar as an unsuitable venue.
Cahill advised the Qataris to ignore all the criticism and keep building for the future.
He said: “They just have to keep doing what they’re doing, developing good footballers and developing state of the art facilities. When I visit Aspire they’re the best in the world who work there who are developing the best facilities for the growth of football.
“For me I can’t say anything bad [about Qatar] and I think it’s very disrespectful for people to comment who haven’t been here. Not everyone’s been to Qatar but I’ve been here on holiday, I’ve been here for football, my family has been here and the main thing is when they do something they do it properly.
“So you really have to wait until you come here and then make a comment once you’ve visited the country. That’s why for me, I’m not Qatari I’m Australian, and when I post things on social media people ask me if people make me do it, well No.
“The way [the Qataris] treat me and they treat my family, my team mates and my fellow countrymen, it’s a beautiful place so there’s not a bad word for me to say.”
Schwarzer had been scathing about temperatures in the Gulf but Cahill noted that football was played in all climates and conditions around the world.
He said: “It is hot, the locals will tell you it’s very hot, but the adaptability of football in every nation, sometimes if you play in England it could be raining, sometimes when you play [in Qatar] it could be hot you have to adapt to the situation.
“Qatar got awarded the World Cup and for this region of the world, being Qatari or being from the Middle East it’s a very proud thing for them to have.
“Also you have to give football a chance in every region, not just those regions that have the best leagues in the world.
“Those criticising Qatar should go and visit Aspire and Aspetar and also check out the professionals that work there, they’re the best in the world. The money Qatar is putting into football is overwhelming and for me every time I come here I think wow, they should be proud of what they’re creating.
“For the Middle East, they’re very proud people and very respectful and they want to now prove to the world and we have to give them their opportunity, then after you can criticize but unless you’ve been here [you can’t].
“There are a lot of people who talk about the heat and facilities but they have to question themselves first have they been here? They talk about Dubai but everyone holidays there. There’s not much difference here except that. I think it’s more about education and I think Qatar will prove a lot of people wrong.”
Cahill is certainly happy there.
He said: “I love it here, I’ve been here a numerous amount of times. Every time I was injured playing in the Premier League I came here to Aspetar hospital at Aspire, it’s one of the most professional set ups I’ve ever been to and you’ve got to embrace how the people are here and the hospitality.
“We’ve always been treated well here and it’s a proud country that has a big respect factor for everyone that visits and [Qatar] just have to respect what they have got and their football team that is growing every day.”