The text of the speech made by Hassan al-Thawadi, the secretary general of Qatar’s Supreme Committee overseeing FIFA World Cup 2022, at the Leaders in Football 2011 conference at Chelsea FC, London: Good afternoon ladies and gentlemen,Leaders in Football 2009 was one of the events which brought our bid to the attention of the international football community, and we were present again last year in a critical stage of the bidding process.
So I have some fond memories of this event.
I’d like to thank James Worrall and his team for giving us the opportunity to address you all again this year.
It’s hard to believe that a full year has passed since I stood here at the same venue with my counterparts from the US, Korean and Japanese bids for 2022.
And it fills me with immense pride to return as Secretary-General for the Qatar 2022 Supreme Committee.
Today I would like to share with you some reflections on the past year and to outline what our focus and priorities are going forward.
When Qatar was pulled from the envelope in Zurich on December 2nd, amid all the celebrations and joy, we knew that the work was only just beginning.
What we did not know or expect was the avalanche of accusations and allegations that we would face in the immediate aftermath of what was a historic day for sport in our country and for the wider region.
I’m sure all of you in this audience are well aware of the very tough challenges we have faced since our success last December.
Baseless accusations were made against our bid. We were presumed guilty before innocent without a shred of evidence being provided.
I want to reiterate to all of you that we conducted our bid to the highest ethical and moral standards.
We are immensely proud of the bid that we submitted to FIFA.
One that outlined a bold legacy for football development not just in Qatar, but across the Middle East;
An exciting legacy around modular stadiums and cooling technology;
A unique fan experience;
Amazing state-of-the-art stadiums;
And the chance to build bridges of understanding between the Middle East and the rest of the world.
What we proposed was bold, new and exciting – and required a leap of faith which FIFA took. It is now up to us to show the world that we can deliver... and we will.
We’re now working hard to put the past behind us. We’re looking toward fulfilling and achieving the promises we made to the world.
In moving forward, our first step was to set up an organisation to lay the proper foundations for us to deliver the vision we presented.
We studied organisations carefully to find the best model that would fit with Qatar’s needs. And we looked to London, taking significant inspiration from the Olympic Delivery Authority.
Their structure is impressive – a centralising body co-ordinating between the local organising committee, government agencies and multiple contractors.
So in April 2011 we formed the Qatar 2022 Supreme Committee to meet those needs.
It will act as an overseeing agency between the various government entities in Qatar whose domains include projects related to Qatar 2022.
The Local Organising Committee will benefit from the Supreme Committee’s overseeing role – allowing it to have a stronger focus on the management and delivery of the event itself.
The first step for the Supreme Committee is to appoint a Programme Management Company.
This firm will assist in developing a master schedule encompassing stadiums, infrastructure and all 2022-related projects.
It will also develop mechanisms to minimise risk and ensure that any obstacles on the path to 2022 are dealt with in an efficient and timely manner.
The Programme Management Company will be appointed by December. And we are currently interviewing the very best global companies for this role.
This is a crucial appointment that we must get right.
By 2015 we plan to have our first brand new stadium in place, and you will hear more from us in the coming months on the detail of our infrastructure plans once the Programme Management Company is on board.
We recognised from the beginning that what lay ahead of us was not an easy task.
We promoted and continue to promote a unique concept.
We worked very hard delivering our messages.
Travelling from event to event – no matter how big or small.
We were there and we covered every angle.
And during this journey we developed relationships and made many friends with whom we are still in contact with.
Thankfully, the messages that we worked so hard to convey – were heard by the relevant stakeholders.
Fans being able to see more than one game in a day – this was experienced during this year’s AFC Asian Cup in Qatar and the feedback was extremely positive.
In 2022 you will benefit from the state-of-the-art transportation plans that we’re implementing.
You’ll be able to stay in the same accommodation throughout the entire event – saving time and money.
Technically, we’re creating an important legacy through our cooling technology, that won’t just apply to the stadiums and training grounds – but also to open air fan zones.
We will share that technology with countries whose weather may be an obstacle.
Through designing nine of our stadiums with modular components, we’ll be donating 170,000 seats to countries in need of sporting infrastructure.
This concept has a dual purpose:
1. It ensures Qatar avoids the white elephant issue and is left with stadiums fit for purpose beyond 2022 - and more importantly -
2. Contributes to global football development.
Our location was also an important part of our concept. Qatar is centrally located and easily accessible – over 2 billion people within a four-hour flight.
The benefits of the location don’t stop there. Qatar’s location means that 3.2bn TV viewers will be able to watch games live in prime time.
Perhaps most importantly for us, is the legacy that this World Cup will leave behind. Bridging east and west. A vehicle for cultural exchange and understanding.
An opportunity for the young people of the region to showcase their talents to the world.
To display their passion for football with the world.
To let people know that certain stereotypes and perceptions that exist are inaccurate and not a true representation of what the Middle East and its peoples stand for.
The same applies too for the people of our region.
To have the chance to gain a better understanding of the West and the numerous other cultures that will descend upon the Middle East and Qatar in the build up to and during 2022.
These, ladies and gentlemen, are the reasons why we won the bid.
The opportunities are limitless.
The legacy of this World Cup extends far beyond football and sport. It’s no longer merely the staging of a sporting event. 2022 will be a catalyst for social and economic change.
The Middle East is experiencing a rebirth. Our societies are being rejuvenated. 2022 can be a celebration of this historical process.
We want people to come and visit and explore and learn.
To experience the dynamism of a region experiencing change like no other in the 21st century.
We are confident and excited that this event will genuinely be a vehicle for bridging cultures and leaving a legacy of understanding.
Inspiring hope that people can unite through their shared passion for football.
We’re working hard every day to ensure that the event lives up to its true potential.
We will not rest from now until the day of the final in 2022.
We hope that you will accompany us on this journey in ensuring the first FIFA World Cup in the Middle East is a success.
l Leaders in Football, the world’s most exclusive football business conference, is being held in partnership with a raft of leading service providers in football, including the international business advisory firm PwC.