Qatar ready to host World Cup 'whatever the date'

AFP, Friday 3 Jan 2014

Qatar 2022
Qatar's bidding team and FIFA president Sepp Blatter (R) pose for the picture after the announcement that Qatar is going to be host nation for the FIFA World Cup 2022, in Zurich December 2, 2010. (Photo: Reuters)

Qatar will be ready to host the 2022 World Cup finals whether the competition is played in summer or winter, Nasser Al-Khater from the organising committee said on Thursday.

Football's world governing body Fifa have launched a consultation process over whether the tournament should be moved from its habitual June and July dates to the winter to avoid the unbearable heat in the Gulf.

However, Al-Khater says the uncertainty has had no impact on Qatar 2022's work thus far.

"Our plans are still to deliver the World Cup in the summer as we have bid and as we have promised," he said.

"And I think it's only right that if there will be a change that the international football community agrees among themselves and decides. For us we will be ready regardless of the date that they choose."

With that in mind, work is underway on the first stadium to be built for the tournament and Al-Khater said that construction will accelerate in 2014.

"We will be announcing five more stadiums in 2014 and five stadiums will be in different sorts of levels of work in 2014," he stated.

"So this is the year where real progress will be showing on the ground."

Plans to cool the air inside the stadiums - one of the most eye-catching elements of Qatar's World Cup bid - will go ahead even with the doubt surrounding when the tournament will be played, with Al-Khater emphasising the need to improve conditions for domestic competitions too.

"You open the horizons for other countries because this (air-cooling) technology is not just for stadiums," he said.

"It's for open and public spaces. So a fan zone, a public square can benefit from these kinds of technologies, which means that other countries that haven't hosted events because of the weather or so forth have now an opportunity to engage with us, and for us to engage with them to look at solutions."

Al-Khater also insisted that reports in foreign media highlighting the difficult conditions faced by immigrant workers in the tiny country, while creating negative publicity, could turn out to be a positive thing.

"It's good that a light has been shown on something like this because it raises the question.

"However we also need to recognise that this isn't the status quo and this isn't something that is rampant.

"Yes they are perpetrators of the law and, these people, what they are doing is illegal. I think that what it means now is things need to be reviewed on how to make sure that this can be enforced and the government at the highest level is taking this issue and matter very seriously.

"We've created workers welfare standards which are going to be mandatory requirements that are going to be placed on all our contracts that will make sure these principles are maintained.

"They are going to go into details of how to protect their rights, to make sure their welfare is being upheld, to make sure that things like their salaries are being paid on time."

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