OFA chief won’t accept any decision to take 2022 World Cup away from Qatar
Oman fully supports Qatar
Sayyid Khalid al Busaidy, the chairman of Oman Football Association (OFA), has reacted strongly against any move to take away the hosting rights for the 2022 FIFA World Cup from fellow Gulf nation Qatar amid reports of irregularities in the bidding process.
In an exclusive interview with Muscat Daily, Sayyid Khalid said, “I fully support Qatar in hosting the World Cup. I will not accept any decision to withdraw the hosting rights from Qatar.”
Reacting to a recent statement from Domenico Scala, the head of FIFA’s auditing and compliance committee - that Russia and Qatar could lose the 2018 and 2022 World Cups if irregularities in the bidding process are proven - Sayyid Khalid said, “With all due respect to Scala, he is an excellent asset for the FIFA. But if the FIFA needs to take such a decision, then it has to go to the FIFA Congress, where its 209 members will have their say.
“We will do all that we can to keep the World Cup in Qatar. The hosting of the World Cup in Qatar is a symbol of pride not just for that country, but for this region as well.”
According to a media report last week, Scala told a Swiss newspaper that ‘if evidence exists that Qatar and Russia were awarded the World Cup because of bribes, then the awards could be annulled’.
Sayyid Khalid said the FIFA Congress will have the ‘final say’ and Qatar ‘deserves to host the World Cup as it has put in tremendous effort, time and investments’.
“The World Cup will help the region and for sure, it is time to host it in the region,” the OFA boss said. “There has been no evidence so far of any irregularities in Qatar’s World Cup bid. And even if any wrongdoing is proven against any individual, it should not be a reason to withdraw the World Cup from Qatar.
“It is totally unfair to think about such a situation - withdrawal at this stage. I am sure the FIFA Congress will stand firmly against any such accusations or any move to withdraw the World Cup from Qatar.”
The OFA chief dismissed chances of some of the World Cup matches being hosted by neighbouring countries as an option. He said, “No way, it’s out of the question. Qatar is preparing itself for an excellent World Cup and had submitted a great bid. It should be respected. It would be a shame if, for some reason, the bid file is opened again.
“I think fans and children in this region deserve to have this World Cup. People have been dreaming of a World Cup in Qatar for the past few years. We cannot accept this (World Cup rights being annulled).”
Sayyid Khalid’s comments have come amid a corruption scandal engulfing the FIFA, centring around 14 current and former FIFA officials and sports marketing executives accused by the US Department of Justice of taking part in a sweeping kickbacks scheme going back 20 years, involving a total of US$150mn in bribes.
The scandal has led to FIFA president Sepp Blatter announcing his resignation, just days after being elected as president for a fifth, four-year term with a win against his lone rival Prince Ali bin Hussein of Jordan.