Bin Hammam: Qatar will host 2022 WCup alone

The 2022 World Cup should not be spread beyond Qatar to neighboring countries but Asian Football Confederation President Mohamed bin Hammam added on Saturday the entire Gulf region will benefit economically.
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Updated on Jan 29, 2011 08:32 PM IST
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AP | By, Doha

The 2022 World Cup should not be spread beyond Qatar to neighboring countries but Asian Football Confederation President Mohamed bin Hammam added on Saturday the entire Gulf region will benefit economically.

Speaking ahead of the Asian Cup final on Saturday, Bin Hammam said Qatar submitted a bid to host the 2022 tournament alone so it was only "fair" that it be allowed to organize matches within the border of the tiny, desert nation.

"From this point of view, I don't think any other country will have a part in the competition," he said.

But Bin Hammam, a Qatari, said he felt the impact of the tournament "will be huge" for the region as a result of increased tourism and infrastructure projects, as well as the legacy it leaves since it will be the first World Cup in the Middle East.

"The region will benefit from the tourists; economically I think infrastructure needs to be built," he said. "A lot of people are going to come to work for constructing these infrastructure. I actually see a huge impact, including the football by itself will be promoted in a very (huge) way."

The idea of Qatar sharing the World Cup was raised by FIFA President Sepp Blatter and endorsed by vice president Michel Platini within days of the vote on Dec. 2.

Blatter and Platini also believe the tournament should be moved to January to avoid Qatar's extreme desert heat in the summer.

As chairman of the French organizing committee for the 1998 World Cup, Platini said he altered some plans after winning hosting rights.

Qatar has refused to comment on any changes in the bid until it forms an organizing committee, and none of its Gulf neighbors have said whether they would like to host matches.

The competing plans for the 2022 World Cup have become a political football in recent weeks, as Bin Hammam was regarded as the most likely candidate to challenge Blatter when he seeks a fourth term in June elections.

Bin Hammam has increasingly taken a hard line against moving the tournament or expanding its venues, making his strongest comments yet today. Previously, he'd simply said any decisions on those issues should be made after 2018.

It's unclear whether his clashes with Blatter over the 2022 World Cup are part of a strategy to set himself apart from the 74-year-old FIFA president should he launch a presidential campaign. Blatter, president since 1998, is up for re-election in June for a fourth four-year term. No challenger has stepped forward yet.

Bin Hammam has hinted that he would run for the FIFA presidency but on Saturday he disappointed a press conference by saying he wouldn't be discussing anything related to FIFA.

He never mentioned Blatter at the press conference, but after criticizing Blatter's length of tenure on Monday, he took another shot at FIFA's leadership, calling for the kind of term limits that he enacted at the AFC, where a president can serve only two four-year terms. Bin Hammam enacted the term limits at the start of his second term, meaning his current third four-year term to 2015 will be his last.

"I believe that's the right way for FIFA as an organization to restructure itself," he said.

"People today, correct me if I'm wrong, are complaining a lot about how FIFA runs its business. I believe it's not only term limits that needs to be changed, but a lot of changes need to be added to FIFA practices. The term limit will facilitate the reputation of the power within the organization."

Bin Hammam said that setting term limits at FIFA would ensure a younger generation has a chance to lead the organization. He did not specify what he thought the term limits should be, although he said the AFC's term limits could serve as an example.

"I also said in the past that changing or limiting the mandate for the presidency will allow new people coming to power. New people means new ideas, new thoughts and pushing the organization well ahead," he said. "I'm afraid actually with the time we're living ... our main aim in the future is going to be how to protect myself sitting in this seat, not (what) I want to do for the future."

Bin Hammam also took a dig at Blatter's age, saying he couldn't envision himself running FIFA or any sports organization when Qatar hosts the World Cup in 2022 when he would be 73.

"I don't know. You think it's the right age?" asked the 61-year-old Bin Hammam, drawing laughter from the crowd. "Still, I need to think about it. No, I don't think I will be in any key position in sports at that time."

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