Friday Kickoff: Qatar chief refuses to lose WC; Totti to sign new contract at Roma; and more

Hassan Abdulla Al Thawadi, the Chief Exe

By DAN KARELL

Many around the globe think otherwise, but Hassan al-Thawadi asserts that Qatar is the “right place” to host the 2022 World Cup.

The World Cup in question has been dominating the headlines recently as FIFA’s very own president Sepp Blatter admitted that awarding Qatar the tournament in the summer may have been a mistake. However, al-Thawadi, the secretary general of the local organizing committee for the 2022 World Cup, insists that the World Cup isn’t going anywhere else.

“[Qatar] is the right place, the Middle East is the right place,” al-Thawadi told BBC Sport.  “We are representing the Middle East, it is a Middle Eastern World Cup, so it is the right place. The Middle East deserves to host a major tournament.”

Many have called for the World Cup to be awarded to another country instead of moving it to winter, which seems to be the goal of FIFA itself.

Here are some more stories to get your Friday started:

TOTTI TO SIGN EXTENSION THROUGH THE AGE OF 40

Don’t worry, AS Roma fans. The heart and soul of the club isn’t ready to retire just yet.

Still going strong at age 36, reports in Italy suggest that Totti has agreed verbally one final contract with Roma, one that will take his playing career through the age of 40 in 2016. The Gazzetta Dello Sport in Italy reports that he’ll be earning around €3.2 million ($4.25 million) per season.

The contract will reportedly be finalized next week, as the club are waiting for president James Palotta to arrive in the Italian capital from his home base in Boston, Massachusetts. When the contract ends, the reports indicate that Totti will become a club ambassador, or feature in a similar role for the backroom staff.

Last season, Totti improved his numbers from the year before, leading the team with 12 assists and scoring 12 goals as well in the domestic league. Already in two Serie A matches this season, the former Italy international has two assists.

BALE SET TO MAKE REAL MADRID DEBUT

Though he’s admitted he’s not at full fitness just yet, Gareth Bale is set to be thrown into the fire by Real Madrid manager Carlo Ancelotti on Saturday against Villarreal.

Ancelotti didn’t reveal whether Bale would or wouldn’t start, but the Italian boss did say that the Wales international would play on the right side of the field, allowing him to cut in with his powerful left foot.

“Bale will travel to Villarreal and will play,” Ancelotti said to The Guardian. “I’m not sure if he will start or come off from the bench.”

After the long-running transfer saga finally ended just before the end of the summer transfer window, Bale received his first bit of playing time on Tuesday for Wales, coming off the bench and playing 32 minutes in his side’s 3-0 loss in Cardiff.

CASILLAS TO PLAY IN CHAMPIONS LEAGUE

Despite the departure of Jose Mourinho from Real Madrid, club and Spain captain Iker Casillas still doesn’t have his old place between the pipes.

In addition to his comments on Bale, Ancelotti spoke on Casillas and confirmed that even though Diego Lopez has earned the No. 1. role at the moment, Casillas will start the first UEFA Champions League match of the season next Tuesday at Galatasaray.

The 32-year-old goalkeeper has been forced to watch matches from the bench early on this season and hasn’t played a minute of competitive action, only taking part in Real Madrid’s preseason friendly matches in the U.S. and across Europe.

A number of reports in Spain have pointed out that by playing Casillas in a Champions League match, his potential departure from the club this season will be severely diminished because he’d be ineligible to play in the Champions League for another club.

QUICK KICKS

Liverpool have done the August double in terms of Premier League monthly awards. Manager Brendan Rodgers earned the Manager of the Month and Daniel Sturridge was EPL Player of the Month. (REPORT)

FIFA has rejected a complaint from the Republic of Congo’s FA about a player on Niger that the Congo believed was ineligible to play. (REPORT)

Tottenham’s Emmanuel Adebayor looks to be on the outside looking in at Spurs, and when he returns from a personal bereavement, he’ll be set to train with the U21 squad until Andre Villas-Boas decides he’s ready to return to the first team. (REPORT)

Police in the Czech Republic have charged 12 people suspected of match-fixing and illegal betting on soccer matches domestically. (REPORT)

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What do you think of these reports? Do you see Qatar holding onto the World Cup? Do you believe Totti can play at a high level through the age of 40? Do you see Bale starting this weekend?

Share your thoughts below.

This entry was posted in European Soccer, Featured, FIFA. Bookmark the permalink.

69 Responses to Friday Kickoff: Qatar chief refuses to lose WC; Totti to sign new contract at Roma; and more

  1. Shawn says:

    How about Letting Canada host the world cup during the winter as an alternative, makes about as much sense…

  2. sammysounder says:

    Qatar has been importing Southeast Asians with the promise of a fair days work for a fair days pay, including free lodging.

    When they get there, the companies are taking their passports, charging for lodging and other “debts” that are taken out of the paychecks.

    Qatar does not deserve the world cup. They deserve to be internationally shamed for enslaving foreigners. Qatar is a disgrace to the World Cup.

    • DanO says:

      Yeah, but they gave the members of the executive committee a lot of money…. So, there!

      • ManicMessiah says:

        PSG, Arsenal, Man City, Barcelona, just from the top of my head, (including BeIn sports for the tv rights in America for instance) shows that its more than just the decision makers on this world cup who may be swayed when it comes time to make a decision on affecting the club schedules for the world cup, or moving it to a different nation altogether.

        There is quite a bit of money that has been taken from the region to fill the coffers of clubs and leagues.

        • Justin says:

          I think this is what is going to be Qatar’s undoing as host. Sepp can parade around all he wants on the fluffy international stuff, but there is no way the actual powers of football are just going to shift their seasons by 1-2 months. It’s pathetic how stupid Fifa’s leadership is. They have only just started to realize that 1) playing in 120 degree heat is not really the best idea; and 2) packing fans into an alcohol-free Arab microstate is no one’s idea of a good time.

          • Judging Amy says:

            Yes! This exactly. I love how these concerns were brought up pretty prominently at the time of bidding (a/c stadiums haha) and the bid committee dismissed them all. Idiots.

        • Drewbles says:

          I don’t understand what you’re trying to say here. Are you arguing that clubs such as PSG or Man City which are owned by Qatari interests will try to exert their influence over their respective FA’s? If so why are you including Arsenal and Barcelona into your argument?

          • ManicMessiah says:

            Barcelona and Arsenal have very good sponsorships with Emirates and Qatari airlines respectively.

            I should have not lumped them together as if they were in identical situations, which is perfectly fair enough.

          • Chris says:

            Qatar Foundation is the shirt sponsor for Barça. Qatar Airways is also a global partner of FCB, and they have several other middle eastern interests as sponsors, such as United Arab Bank and telecomm firm Etisalat (both based in United Arab Emirates).

            There was speculation of a £1.5 billion takeover of Arsenal from Qatar back in March, but the club denied they received such an offer. Their shirt and stadium sponsor is Emirates, an airline based in the UAE (not Qatar). Emirates is also the shirt sponsor for many other clubs, including PSG, Real Madrid, AC Milan, Hamburg SV, Olympiacos, and the newly reborn NY Cosmos, as well as being an Official Partner of FIFA and an official sponsor of the Asian Football Confederation.

            There are other regional middle-eastern entities that are major sponsors of big clubs, such as Etihad Airlines (also from UAE; shirt and stadium sponsor of Man City). Emirates and Etihad are both state-owned companies, meaning they have direct government ties, and although not Qatari, it is conceivable that on a regional basis these UAE-based interests could try to exert influence in favor of keeping WC2022 in the Middle East. Furthermore, Qatar-based al Jazeera (and its subsidiary, beIN Sports) has been aggressively acquiring broadcast rights, including the exclusive broadcast rights for EPL in the 23 countries that make up the Middle East, as well as the UEFA Champions League. All USMNT matches not played in the US are now broadcast on beIN Sports.

  3. Reid says:

    I hope that Roma are getting crazy sponsor dollars because they can’t be getting much money coming through the turnstiles.

  4. Madaoua05 says:

    “Many have called for the World Cup to be awarded to another country instead of moving it to winter, which seems to be the goal of FIFA itself.”

    What is FIFA’s goal? Awarding the WC to another country, or moving it to winter? A confusing read.

    • David JS says:

      Confusing wording, but I believe it’s meant to say FIFA is focused on moving it to winter.

    • Chris says:

      FIFA is talking about moving it to winter but keeping it in Qatar, but many other stakeholders in the process (such as England’s FA and EPL, for example) don’t want it moved to winter because of how disruptive that would be to their domestic league schedule, so they want to have the tournament remain in the summer but change the location.

      Is that a bit clearer?

    • Cavan says:

      The goal is to move it to another county but they don’t want to say that in public. The winter suggestion is to try to goad the European moneyed interests into putting the pressure on so the politicians like Sepp can still get Qatari votes in the next FIFA elections.

  5. 2tone says:

    Yes the Middle East definitely deserves a WC. Except for the regions continued hate and warfare, no respect for human rights, killing children who speak about the lack of human rights, forcing workers into servitude contracts. A region that is in constant turmoil and has no stability whatsoever. But sure the Middle East definitely deserves to host a WC. There will be a lack of international fans that go to that WC.

  6. Pingunça says:

    Let me get this straight.. So the top Euro clubs -the top world talent–will undergo the first round of Champions league as well as their regular season.. then these burned out players will shift to Qatar.. ?

  7. usa fan says:

    The guy in the picture is sweating by just sitting down, imagine playing in the summers heat.

    • Snack Time says:

      Noticed that too. Couldn’t even manage air conditioning in the press conference room, and they are talking about fake clouds and stadium-level climate control? Good luck!

  8. slowleftarm says:

    So how many years until the 2022 world cup gets moved to the US?

  9. Mark says:

    Does the Middle East deserve a World Cup? Does it? What has the Middle East given the world in the last 25 years that would entitle them to host the world’s biggest sporting event. I don’t see the Olympics going to the Middle East anytime soon. I am xenphobic and I am not anti-arabic or anti-muslim but as a world region or community or whatever, I don’t see any reason to host the World Cup in Qatar or any other country in the ME. It was bought and paid for with oil money and that is the only reason that they won the bid in the first place…huge mistake.

    • Mark says:

      Sorry, meant to say I am NOT xenophobic. Promise.

    • Judging Amy says:

      Agreed. Money and the FIFA bid committee’s (and especially the out of touch and corrupt Sepp Blatter) naive, self-serving, and perverted sense of “tolerance” brought about a World Cup that never should have been hosted in Qatar.

    • STX81 says:

      I’m sure some people were saying the same thing about the US before 1994. I disagree with you and I sure the fans of Man City would too. The influx of middle eastern money to the game makes them just as deserving any other location. The problem here is the logistics of hosting the WC in a hot summer climate. Everyone saw that coming. FIFA is just stupid.

      BTW if you HAVE to say you aren’t xenophobic you might want to rethink what you’re saying.

      • Hogatroge says:

        You’re being a little harsh on him.

        First of all, the US had the infrastructure to host the event, and recent renewed interest (qualifying in 1990) justified giving the US a look. Also, last time I checked, the US doesn’t have a significant human rights abuse record (ahem…compared to many other nations, that is). Also, no accomodations needed to be made by FIFA to host the events. No moving EVERY MAJOR EUROPEAN LEAGUE’S SCHEDULE, no air conditioned stadiums needed to be built (though the games in TX got ridiculously hot IIRC).

        Not only does Qatar not have the stadiums, they don’t have the cities. A world cup requires at a minimum 7 (if not more) cities. Qatar has 3. They promised to build more cities for this event. Qatar’s population is less than 2 million. Think about how many people would have to relocate to make 4+ more cities happen. Also, Qatar’s team hasn’t done anything to justify the bid. They would probably never qualify for the cup if they hadn’t recently instituted a policy of giving foreign players citizenship in exchange for playing. Definitely the least deserving host nation to not have to qualify for the tournament in a long time.

        And this is just off the top of my head… we’re not even talking (well-documented) bribes yet.

      • Judging Amy says:

        Not the same situation as USA ’94, friend. Completely different. See my comment above for my reasoning. Cheers.

  10. Big Chil says:

    “Qatar is the right place for the World Cup. It’s not going anywhere else. And besides, we bought it, er…our Powerpoint presentation of non-existent stadia was judged the best and we won the vote.”

  11. JJ says:

    Got to admit I’m really scared of of the American players in the Middle East, who knows what will happen.

  12. AcidBurn says:

    “At the same time we’re delivering on all the promises that we’ve made. We’re working very hard to deliver it. The commitment is there.”

    So, how’s that air-conditioned stadium technology (or should I say giant floating cloud-like ipads) coming along, which was a prerequisite to hold the tournament in the summer? Has that been delivered?

    Why don’t you give a call to Russ Cargill and get him to drop a giant dome over Qatar?

  13. SoundersOff says:

    Sorry, any talk about the World Cup happening in Qatar is just window-dressing at this point.

    One thing talks in the FIFA world–money. The money lost in having to move the season for La Liga, Bundesliga, EPL, Ligue 1, etc. etc. and all the way down their respective divisions, and club commitments, and club academies, and going a step further…

    TV contracts. Sponsorship contracts. Apparel contracts. They would all be broken. Then the other sports and events that utilize the stadiums during the offseasons. And the international competitions such as the Champions League and Euro Cup would have to be moved.

    We’re talking TRILLIONS of dollars across the globe. The World Cup is not happening in Qatar if it doesn’t happen in the summer.

    • Judging Amy says:

      Man, I think and hope you’re right.

    • Mike Santoro says:

      Dont be so sure. Most top league officials have gone on record and said they’d make it work if asked by FIFA.

      • John says:

        Pretty sure the EPL said they were going to fight against it with everything they could.

      • SoundersOff says:

        Not to be rude here, but that’s just not true.

        This is from 2 days ago when the representatives of Spain, England, France, Germany, and Italy federations and leagues penned a letter to Sepp informing him that he did not have the authority to change the timing of the event and neither do the ExCo. If they were to do so they would be breaking actual laws. They can only decide on the venue.

        link to dailymail.co.uk

        The EPL will NEVER allow their season to be moved.

        • atleticodemadridfan says:

          I can just hear one of Sunil Gulati’s execs talking to Sep Blatter’s office – “We really know how to throw a party! We have the best stadiums in the world, already built! Weather in summer, all over the USA is freakin’ awesome! Last time we hosted the WC, we broke every attendance record, and those records still hold!, Dollar-itos, muchos dolares Sepp, mucho dinero!!! How about it? Let us show you how it’s done FIFA, please?”

          Maybe Qatar could host the U20s WC, or something. With some new AC, climate controlled stadiums – to prove that it works on a smaller scale, then do a full WC.

      • dan says:

        Mike Santoro, you either heard wrong or you’re blatantly lying. Every single major league in Europe has said they will absolutely not move their leagues and will fight it with every inch in their body. They would need almost 2 months off for training and the actual cup, that is A LOT of money lost and they can’t simply extend the league int he summer since their will be no off season.

    • Drewbles says:

      Yep, I was just thinking the other day about how much Fox, who paid $500 million for 2018 and 2022, would love to have World Cup matches kick off at the same time as NFL games.

      • SoundersOff says:

        And that’s just the English language rights in the United States. Imagine the money paid in places that actually love soccer on a national scale.

        And the domestic league rights. EPL rights in the UK are broken into several packages and are worth more than a billion pounds a year.

      • atleticodemadridfan says:

        Oh yeah!

      • Judging Amy says:

        So true. This disaster that anyone with a brain could see from a mile away is coming back to bite Blatter and FIFA. Their egos blinded them to this debacle.

  14. Bellus Ludas says:

    Blatter is STILL counting the bribe money he made on the Qatar decision, so until he is finished there will be no change in venue.

  15. John says:

    Qatar already ordered 180 tanks from Germany, so don’t worry everyone they are prepared to host the World Cup….

  16. Brain Guy says:

    Newly minted ExCom member Sunil Gulati seems to be taking a courageous stand and standing up to the Blatter/Platini machine: link to nytimes.com

  17. blokhin says:

    If a World Cup happens in a desert and no one shows up, does it make a sound?

  18. Seriously says:

    The Middle East deserves a World Cup? Exactly what has the Middle East done to deserve a World Cap? The Middle East doesn’t deserve ish.

    • mowe says:

      The idea is the same that got South Africa the World Cup, and Japan/Korea before that. It’s about giving different regions in the world a chance to host the biggest sports event there is.

      • wandmdave says:

        Expand the sport and get more cash money. Its what got us one in 94 and helped jump the growth of the game here so we can’t really complain.

        • Judging Amy says:

          Completely different situation in terms of fan support, quality, politics, and suitability. When a global association like FIFA preaches tolerance, anti-racism, and fair play and you hand the Cup bid to an oppressive government like Qatar in a ridiculously corrupt process…well, we can complain.

          I swear, the infection of moral relativism has shredded the thinking capacity of otherwise solid brained Americans. :)