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Monday, March 5, 2012

FIFA team happy with Qatar's preparations

Posted On Friday, 2nd March 2012

FIFA Communication and Public Affairs Director Walter De Gregorio emphatically tried to end the rumours about the change of time of the 2022 World Cup from summer to winter.
The nine-member FIFA team is on its first visit to Qatar since the World Cup was allotted to the Middle Eastern country in December 2010. It was asked about the persisting doubts if the World Cup might be shifted from June- July to a winter window. Gregorio said: “For FIFA, this is no topic now. For us (FIFA), the World Cupwill be in Qatar and in the summer.” “If there is any pressure from the worldwide football community regarding the heat factor, FIFA is always open to discussion,” the FIFA’s Italian communication director, a former journalist, added.
He also said that the two issues that the two pet issues for the international media were the timing of the game and the process through which Qatar was awarded the rights to host the WC. “For FIFA, it is over. That’s it,” added Gregorio.
He also talked about the attempts by UEFA President Michel Platini, the most vocal person about switching the WC to the winter time. “Platini has himself said in aninterview to Al Jazeera that he voted for Qatar for the summer World Cup. But for FIFA, there is no way to make any changes.
“If anything comes up for the discussion, it has to come either from the LOC (Local Organising Committee) or the international football community,” said the FIFA communication and public affairs head. The chief purpose of the FIFA team’s visit was to have the first working meeting with the the Qatar 2022 Supreme Committee on Qatari soil, with members from both bodies coming together to discuss a wide array of subjects relating to the 2022 FIFA World Cup.
The FIFA delegation headed by its Competitions Director Mustapha Fahmy, Marketing Director Thierry Weil, TV Director Niclas Ericson and communications and public affairs head Gregorio met with Qatar 2022 Supreme Committee Secretary General Hassan al Thawadi and his team during the visit and attended a series ofpresentations by various Qatari organisations engaged in projects directly and indirectly related to the preparations for the 2022 WC.
“It was FIFA’s first visit since the bid inspection. We are impressed by the overall vision developed by the Qataris and the first steps of the preparations taken already. It is great to see the commitment and excitement of the 2022 Supreme Committee and other key stakeholders to create amazing. We are looking forward to continuing the path started over the last few days and seeing these visionary projects coming together on the way to the first FIFA World Cup in the Middle East,” explained Fahmy.
Commenting on the visit, Thawadi (Qatar 2022 Supreme Committee – Secretary General) said, ‘We are pleased to have held our first working meetings this week in Qatar with our counterparts from FIFA.
“There is no doubt in my mind that the discussions and presentations held this week were of mutual benefit in terms of aligning our visions for the journey toward 2022. We have always insisted upon the importance of taking the time to ensure the proper foundations are in place for the next ten years.
“After our meetings this week with FIFA and our appointment of our delivery partner early last month, we believe we are on the right track.” Thawadi added.
Stakeholders involved in the presentations included representatives from the New Doha International Airport project, Qatar Rail, the Gulf Organisation for Research and Development, Qatar Foundation and Qatar’s Central Planning Office.
FIFA’s team also toured various facilities and sites in Qatar, including the Aspire Academy for Sports Excellence and the newly-established Qatar National Convention Centre, which will serve as a key non-competition venue during the 2022 World Cup.