June 14 – While focus is firmly on Russia 2018 for the next month, it will soon switch to Qatar and the 2022 World Cup, and the preparations in-country for the first finals tournament to be held in Winter.
The Asian Football Confederation (AFC) has announced that it will be opening an office in Doha with a view to being on-hand to support the Qataris with administrative, organisational and technical support.
Shaikh Salman bin Ebrahim Al Khalifa, the AFC President, said: “Hosting the FIFA World Cup is a prestigious occasion for any country and for any Confederation and Asia has been honoured with the awarding of the tournament in 2022.
“It will be the second time that the Continent has staged the biggest football tournament in the world and we are determined to ensure that Qatar enjoy the same success and same plaudits as Korea Republic and Japan when they were joint hosts in 2002.
“The focus of global sport has turned to Asia recently and that spotlight will continue to shine brightly in the coming years. Not only is there a FIFA World Cup in 2022 but also later this year the FIFA Club World Cup in the United Arab Emirates and that is quickly followed by our AFC Asian Cup in the same country.
“Add to that an Olympic Games in Tokyo in 2020 and a Winter Olympic Games in Beijing in 2022 and it is clear that Asia is at the epicentre of the sports world and the duty of the AFC is to support the hosts as well as the competing teams.”
FIFA has changed its modus operandi in terms of running World Cup tournaments under president Gianni Infantino. While previously FIFA supervised and worked closely with the Local Organising Committee for the World Cup organisation, now the governing body has decided to take over the organisation of the competition itself, setting up its own teams in country to deliver the tournament. Quite how the logistics of this will pan out remain to be seen, with FIFA running the very real risk of offending the host country who will have spent billions on infrastructure but then potentially excluded from the day-to-day decision making of the tournament itself.
FIFA’s administration has a recent history of not listening to or consulting its members on some of its biggest operational decisions with confederations and national associations frequently complaing that FIFA is meddling in their internal afffairs. The AFC in Qatar could find itself in the vital position of mediator. The battlelines of World Cup organisation will need to be clear and tested before they get to the US for 2026. Americans are not good at being told what to do by European-based organisations.
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