Indian football key for Qatar World Cup

On the occasion of the fifth anniversary of the event, the Assistant Secretary General of the Supreme Committee for Delivery and Legacy, Nasser Al Khater, spoke to Sportstar.

"We want to capitalise on it (Indian Super League). As the sport grows it would help Indian football also to grow," said Nasser Al Khater.   -  Getty Images (FILE PHOTO)

It is five years since Qatar won the bid to host the 2022 FIFA World Cup. On the occasion of the fifth anniversary of the event, the Assistant Secretary General of the Supreme Committee for Delivery and Legacy, Nasser Al Khater, spoke to Sportstar.

What would be the impact of the 2022 FIFA World Cup on the Indian diaspora in Qatar?

We grew up in Qatar with a huge Indian community. The World Cup will be held in Qatar but it is as much for all other communities. We look for support from the large number of Indian community.

How do you look at India as far as the event is concerned?

The progress of Indian football is the key for our World Cup. It would give us great pleasure to see India playing in the World Cup. It would mean lot of people coming from India. China and India are the two biggest markets who would be attracting fans to the World Cup. A strong China team and a strong India team would make it a great World Cup.

How do you look at the popularity of the ISL?

We want to capitalise on it. As the sport grows it would help Indian football also to grow.

Would Qatar be interested in the long-term future of Indian football?

We do large scale development at the grass roots in Africa. The programme has been a success. I don’t see why it can’t be replicated in India. The Aspire Football Dream Project is the largest scouting programme in the world.

They pick 600 thousand kids in the age group of 8 and 13, create a data base, identify a certain number and take them to the academy in Senegal. Then give the data base to the Football Associations. Lot of under-23 players have come from this programme.

Would this be the most technological equipped World Cup?

There is a 500 thousand Indian community in Qatar and we rely on them in many fields. We are looking to make this World Cup the best in terms of connectivity. The cooling technology being used is environmental friendly. We are developing outdoor courts and make them as environmental friendly as possible. Make sure all the fans are able to engage with the World Cup. All information would be available on finger tips. The fan experience is going to be unique.

Can you throw some light on having modular venues?

The requirement of the World Cup is definitely more than the requirement of a country the size of Qatar in terms of venue sizes. We don’t want to get stuck with white elephants. We have made sure that all our stadiums will have upper tiers made of modular seatings.

Post World Cup we will dismantle them and work with FIFA and various federations to give them for development of stadiums in other countries.

What will be the biggest take away for Qatar from the World Cup?

A lot! Issues relating to workers welfare have been highlighted because of the World Cup. Laws are changing and focus is on human and social side.

What is the uniqueness of playing the World Cup in November-December?

It will be played at a very good time of the year. The players won’t be coming out of a long season. They would be fresh and we would see technical skills at their best. Qatar is a small country and the fans congregating in Qatar would go a long way in making it a huge success.

What were the plans that took Qatar to this stage in world football?

Football has seen an evolution in Qatar because we have hosted a number of mega international sporting events with huge success. The leadership of the country has recognised sport as the way forward. Sport is the key in keeping the society on the right path. Sport makes sure the kids don’t get drawn to other habits. They lead a healthy life. There are social benefits.

Can Qatar help India with sponsoring football fields...

We have a programme called Generation Amazing. This looks at using the power of football at improving the leadership and social skills among the kids. It can be used for developing football pitches. We can definitely look at this area in association with the Indian Football Federation.

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