By David Owen in Zurich
Category: World Cup Bids
Published on Wednesday, 01 December 2010 17:11
December 1 - After the glitz and razzmatazz of their money-no-object campaign, the Qatar bid team treated FIFA's top brass to a serious-minded presentation that was comparatively low on frills in Zurich this afternoon.
"Reliability", "constancy", "responsibility" were the sort of words flashed up on the dark-toned backdrop as the succession of speakers said their pieces.
Together with "When?" - as in when will FIFA take the World Cup to the Middle East?
The coup de foudre when it came was not Zinedine Zidane stepping out of a screen but a to-all-intents-and-purposes unknown 24-year-old Iraqi called Mohammed Al-Nufal Al-Tamimi.
He was there to talk about the effect on his troubled country of the Iraqi football team's astonishing victory in the 2007 Asian Cup.
"When Iraq took the lead, we hugged strangers," he said, concluding, "all of this, all of this happened because of football."
The issue of heat came up, of course – twice.
First, the distinctive voice of Bora Milutinovic (pictured), five times a World Cup finals coach, asserted that in the World Cup in Mexico in 1986, there had been "a great deal of heat" as well as high altitude, and yet it had been a great World Cup.
"The heat will not be a problem in Qatar," he insisted.
It was a theme that bid chief executive officer Hassan Al-Thawadi returned to, in the context of Qatar's proposed stadium-cooling technologies.
"Heat is not and will not be an issue," he said.
Al-Thawadi also took the opportunity to demonstrate his linguistic versatility, delivering a good chunk of his contribution in Spanish.
Another sign of the presentation's serious-minded tone was that Israel got a look in, during a segment on sport's ability to bring people together.
"It happened in South Africa," the presentation proclaimed.
"Football uniting the world in a way that only sport can."
The presentation ended, a little cornily I thought, with an imaginary film sequence emphasising the sense of expectation in the final moments before the 2022 World Cup host was announced.
Then again, the message seemed to get through.
"I know how high the expectation is now," observed FIFA President Joseph Blatter as the presentation finished.
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