Following the first Qatar 2022 Local Organising Committee (LOC) board meeting with representatives from FIFA in Doha today, LOC CEO Hassan Al Thawadi, and FIFA Secretary General Jérôme Valcke talked to the media on a number of key topics related to the 2022 FIFA World Cup Qatar™. Updates on proposed host venues and the implementation of worker welfare provisions, as well as the Tournament Operation Master Plan, were on the agenda on Wednesday morning in Doha.
LOC CEO Hassan Al Thawadi on the first LOC board meeting:
Today is a culmination of five years of work, it is a significant milestone for all of us working in the Supreme Committee and the Local Organising Committee, working with our stakeholders in Qatar as well as regional stakeholders, and it is a moment of personal pride for me. The meeting today was very, very positive and showcased the progress we are making as we enter the delivery phase of this major event that will be held in the Middle East for the very first time. We presented to FIFA our progress overall, in particular on five stadiums which are in different stages of construction, and also showcased the compact nature of the World Cup in Qatar.
Al Thawadi on a FIFA World Cup in the Middle East for the first time
This is the first World Cup in the Middle East. For all of you who have experienced the Middle East you will know that there is a lot of passion for the sport here. Bringing the World Cup here is a very big step and a pioneering step. The opportunities that come out of the World Cup here will open the doors and open minds about this region, and I have always said that football is a platform unlike any other to bring people together. This is a great opportunity for all of us, and there have been many members of the football community that have come out in support of the recommendation of the FIFA Task Force yesterday, including Luis Figo, Gary Neville and Tim Cahill, who has been supportive throughout, so I urge people not to package this negatively but to look at the positives. The potential for tangible legacy, as mentioned by the FIFA Secretary General, and also intangible legacy like human and social aspects, are enormous. A World Cup in Qatar will open doors and open minds. I urge people to look at what a World Cup here can do.
FIFA Secretary General Jérôme Valcke on the LOC board meeting
It is the first time we are here to discuss the organisation of the World Cup. It is a very special World Cup because we can describe it as a compact World Cup. It will be great for the teams because they will have one team base camp for the duration of the tournament, and they will not have to travel from there during the competition which will mean no stress from travelling. It is also a tournament with a pre-legacy, because all of the stadiums are based on an engagement with the local community. To make sure that the stadiums will not be a stand-alone stadium, they have given their feedback on the needs for the surrounding area to ensure that there is a tangible legacy. Talking about legacy, most of the stadiums will be reduced by fifty per cent after the tournament in terms of seating capacity in order to fit the needs of the country. So we are learning from past experiences and making sure that the LOC is learning from past considerations on legacy.
Valcke on the number of stadiums proposed for the tournament
You know that we are talking about the number of stadiums and this is something we will decide by the end of 2015. Generally for a FIFA World Cup hosting we are looking at between eight and twelve stadiums. The number varies according to the country, in bigger countries like Brazil a larger number was requested, and when the country is smaller then eight is possible. We are also discussing the option to reduce the tournament to 28 days, so four days shorter, and this would mean that there would be four games a day. This is part of the concessions we are all making to find the right time for the World Cup in 2022. The wish from the part of the six confederations is to play late November to late December. There will be a decision made by the Executive Committee on March 19/20 on the dates, but it is clear that it will be November and December because this is what the clear majority wants.
Valcke on working and living conditions in Qatar
Yesterday I had a chance to personally visit the Al Wakrah construction site and the workers living facilities. We are pleased to see the standards of World Cup sites are higher than the average ones and that the Supreme Committee upholds the workers welfare as they committed to. That said we are naturally also recognizing that still more needs to be done in this regard in Qatar. We hope that the 2022 standards will become a benchmark, and others will also adopt these countrywide. We know that we can use the World Cup to positively change things in the host country. We have been sitting with the LOC and with the government and President Blatter is in regular contact with his Highness the Emir of Qatar to ensure this issue is on the top of the agenda.