KEIR RADNEDGE REPORTS: Asian football president Shaikh Salman bin Ebrahim Al Khalifa believes Qatar’s staging of the Arab Cup over the Past two weeks has proved its capacity to stage “the greatest-ever FIFA World Cup” later next year.
African champions Algeria beat Tunisia in the final in Doha on Saturday in the Al-Bayt stadium which will host the Opening Match of the World Cup next November. Qatar’s own national team finished third after beating Egypt on penalties.
The event, and Shaikh Salman’s words, will go nothing to stem the western flow of criticism concerned human rights issue, exacerbated lately by the jailing of a former organising media officer, Abdullah Ibhais, on charges he denied of bribery and misuse of funds.
The Arab Cup was revived, after the scrapping of the Confederations Cup, as a final World Cup test event and used six of the stadia involved.
Shaikh Salman said: “Over the last 19 days, the world has witnessed the warmth of Qatar’s hospitality and the impeccable organisational expertise and efficiency led by Qatar’s Supreme Committee for Legacy & Delivery executed to perfection.
“More importantly, the FIFA Arab Cup confirmed what we in Asia have known all along, that Qatar is more than ready to stage the greatest-ever FIFA World Cup in the tournament’s proud history.
“On behalf of the Asian football family, I would like to congratulate the Qatar Football Association, the Qatar Supreme Committee for Legacy & Delivery and the local authorities for their outstanding efforts, particularly under these challenging circumstances, and I must reiterate the AFC’s support towards our collective ambitions to showcase the true spirit of our Asian and Arab hospitality.”
Shaikh Salman added: “We must also congratulate our Asian teams for their valiant and brave displays throughout the tournament.
“Qatar were extremely unfortunate to narrowly miss the final, but credit must go to all our 10 Asian participating teams and everyone working tirelessly behind the scenes for showcasing great resolve and for doing the continent proud.”