Exclusive - Qatar 2022 Chief Prepares to Debunk Myths About World Cup

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Hassan Al-Thawadi will break his silence about criticism of Qatar's World Cup plans at Leaders in Football (Qatar 2022)
(WFI) INSIDER is told that Hassan al-Thawadi, secretary general of Qatar's 2022 World Cup organising committee, will today use the Leaders in Football conference to debunk some myths that have built up around the Gulf state's tournament plans.

Al-Thawadi's speech to delegates at the London conference and one-on-one interview is the highlight of today's programme.

It will be the first time he has responded publicly to criticism of Qatar's World Cup preparations in more than nine months.

Amid recent calls by UEFA boss Michel Platini for a winter World Cup to avoid playing the tournament in the searing desert heat and ongoing scepticism about Qatar's plans to air-condition stadia, Al-Thawadi is expected to set the record straight on exactly what is proposed and the timetable for delivering plans.

His reflections on the months since Qatar won the FIFA vote on Dec. 2 will touch on the unproven bribery allegations that were thrown at the Gulf state's bid team before and after its successful campaign.

INSIDER understands that Al-Thawadi is keen to bust the myth about the soaring budget for the World Cup.

Last month, Qatar's 2022 communications chief told INSIDER a widely-reported claim by German financial analyst Dr Nicola Ritter that the cost of staging the World Cup would be in excess of $200 billion was misleading and inaccurate.

Al-Thawadi will tell delegates at Leaders in Football: "Lately there have been figures discussed in the public domain – guesswork at how much the World Cup is going to cost Qatar.

"What’s important to remember is that the vast majority of infrastructure development projects were already earmarked in what is known as the Qatar Masterplan and would have been developed regardless of whether or not we had been successful with the 2022 bid."

He will say that the oil-rich Gulf nation will keep within its $4 billion budget to develop the 12 host stadia. Nine are being built from scratch and three existing venues renovated and expanded.

The first new stadium will be completed by 2015, he will tell the audience of football executives gathered at Chelsea FC.

The former Qatar 2022 bid CEO will also explain the work of the Supreme Committee of Qatar 2022 of which he is secretary general. This is the government body with oversight of venue and infrastructure developments for the World
Cup and the local organising committee.

And he'll set out the milestones ahead. Six multinationals are currently vying to secure the important role of programme manager for the Qatar 2022 project.

By the end of the year, the Supreme Committee of Qatar 2022 will have a new corporate identity and new website that will be used as a platform to communicate progress on World Cup preparations.

In his speech today, Al-Thawadi is also highlighting the effects of the bid victory in Qatar and the Middle East.

With Doha now bidding to land the 2020 Olympics, Al-Thawadi will also talk about the rapidly developing sports landscape in Qatar, a country that is becoming a magnet for mega-events. The Qatari capital is currently in a bid battle with London to secure the 2017 IAAF world athletics championships.

Earlier this week, Qatar's deputy emir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al-Thani, who is president of the Supreme Committee of Qatar 2022, also took on the role of Doha 2020 bid president. He must balance both roles over the next two years; the IOC announces the Olympic host city in September 2013.

Leaders in Football brings together 1,000 senior football executives from every continent

It kicks off with a session featuring English FA chairman David Bernstein in which he will discuss football governance and reforms of his organisation.

Next up is UEFA secretary general Gianni Infantino, whose address will include talk about the challenges of implementing the Financial Fair Play rules that are being phased in over the next few years.

Al-Thawadi opens the afternoon programme, addressing delegates at 2pm London time.

Kia Joorabchian, adviser to Manchester City rebel Carlos Tevez, will offer his thoughts on the Argentine's recent troubles.

Day one of the conference wraps up with a session entitled: Is FIFA fit to lead the game?

Two new FIFA Ex-Co members, Northern Ireland's Jim Boyce and Jordan's Prince Ali Bin Al Hussein will join Michel D’Hooghe, who has sat at FIFA's top table since 1988, to discuss how world football's governing body can find its way of out its worst-ever crisis. A slew of bribery scandals linked to the 2018/2022 World Cup bid campaign and this year's FIFA presidential election have tarnished the organisation and its president Sepp Blatter.

The three FIFA men are expected to mount a strong defence of their organisation, while admitting that reforms are needed to restore its credibility worldwide. They will be asked to approve Blatter's anti-corruption reforms at the FIFA Ex-Co meeting on Oct. 20 to 21.


By INSIDER editor Mark Bisson

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