The Secretary General of the Supreme Committee for Delivery and Legacy Hassan al-Thawadi has termed the illegal Saudi-led blockade of Qatar as “a sad page in the history of the region” while insisting there won’t be any white elephants as a result of the 2022 FIFA World Cup.
In a strong response to calls from Saudi Arabia, the UAE and Bahrain for Qatar to be stripped of the prestigious event, al-Thawadi asserted that their hostility would not undermine the tournament in any way.
“This is an illegal and unjust blockade. Illegal in international law,” al-Thawadi who is a legal expert himself told Spain’s El Pais newspaper, Inside World Football reported.
“It is a sad page in the history of our region. How does this affect the organisation of the World Cup? We have a plan B. We have established very fast supply routes and the projects are adjusting to the planned programme.”
Al-Thawadi defended Qatar’s spending on stadiums, saying they will be put to good use once the event was over.
“We have a plan for each stadium,” he said. “FIFA calls for stadiums of 40,000 for group stages, 60,000 for the semi-finals and 85,000 for the final. If the building remains as a stadium after the World Cup we will reduce the capacity to 15,000 or 20,000, adapting it to our local competitions.
“Our project includes eight stadiums, one of which will be completely removable, the exterior and the interior. Three or four will remain as buildings but not as football stadiums: we will use them for schools, apartments, and hospitals. We hope that the rest will remain as football stadiums.”
Earlier this week, al-Thawadi had told a distinguished gathering at Casa Arabe in Madrid that the World Cup in Qatar would double up as a forum to bridge differences and bring peoples together.
"In Qatar we believe in mutual respect and the principle of peaceful coexistence. We are a mosaic of people of different nationalities, beliefs and cultures, living together and in harmony. In the organisation which I have the privilege to lead, fifty-four nationalities are working towards a common vision,” he said.
“This World Cup in Qatar represents an opportunity for the region and especially for the young generations who are our future. We have a dream. We know it is big, difficult and represents a big challenge, but we won't stop when we are faced with challenges.”
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