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Qatar hits back at ‘ridiculous’ World Cup attack by Van Gaal


Doha (AFP) – Qatar’s top World Cup organiser has hit back at Louis van Gaal for criticising the decision to hold the event in the Gulf state, saying the Netherlands coach has failed to understand the Arab world’s passion for football.

Van Gaal said this week that it was “ridiculous” for the World Cup to be held in Qatar and that FIFA had only been motivated by money.

In a rare outburst, Hassan al-Thawadi, chief executive of the World Cup Supreme Committee for Delivery and Legacy, tore into van Gaal and insisted Qatar had no regrets over its efforts to stage the World Cup that kicks off on November 21.

“For a person who has had many many years (as a coach) and who understands the power of football, it is ridiculous that he could actually make such a bland statement,” Thawadi said in comments from an interview released by Bein Sports TV late Thursday.

“I am sure that he hasn’t spent a lot of time understanding what football means, not only to Qatar but to the Arab world.”

Thawadi said Qatar had shown at the FIFA Arab Cup in November and December, where many stadiums were packed, that it could host major events.

Thousands of journalists and officials will be in the state on April 1 for the World Cup draw and to see the World Cup stadiums that Qatar has spent billions of dollars to build.

– No apologies –

It has also held the world athletics championships, a Formula One race and other top events. Its human rights record has been questioned, but Qatar says much of the criticism is unfair.

“The passion of the people of the Arab world, what football means to us, I think it is not a ridiculous notion that an Arab nation hosts the World Cup,” Thawadi said.

“It is the time for the Arab world and the Middle East to take a stand within the global football community and to be recognised as such.”

Thawadi said Arab fervour for football was “unparalleled”.

“Our ability to host major events as a state is unparalleled,” he added, stating that it had been recognised by the Netherlands and other major sports nations.

“They recognise our ability and our readiness,” he added.

“Plain and simple, the Arab world deserves its right to be in the sunshine, in the spotlight. We have worked very hard to get to this stage and I don’t think we will make any apologies for it.”

Thawadi said that fans in the Qatar would be “very welcoming to the outside world”.

Van Gaal hit out at FIFA for saying that the World Cup was being played in Qatar to develop football there.

“But it doesn’t matter – it’s about money, commercial interests. That’s the main motive of FIFA,” he said at a press conference.

Qatar has also faced questions about its record on the treatment of migrant workers and gay rights.

Homosexuality is banned in Qatar and England coach Gareth Southgate said this week it would be “horrible” if gay fans did not go to the event because they felt threatened.

England captain Harry Kane said the team would try to “shine a light” on issues in Qatar.

Organisers have not yet responded to their comments.

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8 Comments

8 Comments

  1. Roberto

    March 27, 2022 at 12:24 pm

    @Rod, thanks.
    It will be very hard to go without football for almost a month. So like Greg, maybe Japan, Denmark, Canada and teams from Africa.

  2. Rod

    March 27, 2022 at 11:20 am

    I agree with you Roberto. Beautiful comment.

  3. Roberto

    March 27, 2022 at 9:10 am

    The world cup selection has been corrupt for some time. Qatar was a big problem from when they bought the WC all the way to it’s upcoming November run. The process needs reworking and a change at the top. Greed rules and that shows with the various plans to increase the number of teams involved and the attempt to go biyearly.
    It would be great if there was a boycott by teams and/or viewers but that probably will not happen. I will not be watching.

  4. Rod kellman

    March 26, 2022 at 9:00 pm

    I have read your comments, and I find them hipcriticalike. You thinking the USA and the other eu country are any better? Brazil in 2014 you should take a closer look. Only Japan-Korea 2002 deserve a pass. I don’t like what they are doing to migrate workers either the way they treat women. Where should we go next?

    • Ra

      March 26, 2022 at 9:49 pm

      You are certainly dumber than my door…

      • Rod

        March 26, 2022 at 11:05 pm

        What’s bothering more my spelling? Or my comment? Don’t let that dumb door hit you on the way out.

  5. greg

    March 25, 2022 at 11:50 am

    Infantino is corrupt to his core, the rest of senior leadership at FIFA is almost as bad. I’m honestly not sure how to deal with this WC. Normally I love to watch as many matches as I can. Maybe this time I’ll only watch Denmark.

  6. dennis+wise

    March 25, 2022 at 8:30 am

    where does one start about qatar?
    1. sanctuary for wonderful folks – taliban
    2. horrible workers rights
    3. paying bribes to get the WC awarded to them

    then there is the ridiculousness of the WC particulars – switched to the winter, alcohol restrictions, dress restrictions, no visible tatoos (have to see how that works), the only activity in qatar is spending a nite in a tent in the desert et al

    van Gaal is saying what everyone thinks!

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