LAHORE - Asian Football Confederation (AFC) president Salman Al-Khalifa on Tuesday said Qatar Football World Cup 2022 would be the best ever in the sport’s history.
Some European countries had expressed serious concerns about weather conditions in the Gulf state and it is expected that the Qatar World Cup will be moved to winter in 2022 to avoid searing temperatures, with a November/December tournament currently being looked at by world football's governing body.
In an exclusive interview with The Nation, Salman, who is Qatar World Cup organising committee head, said: “First of all, Qatar has done its utmost to win the bid of 2020 World Cup and I am sure and confident that the World Cup in Qatar will be the best and successful world cup ever.
Now choosing the time, I think the task force will decide the best timings that hopefully will be beneficial for all the participating nations and it’s the responsibility of FIFA to take reviews and opinions of all the stakeholders within the football community whether from European or other nations to come up with a novel solution. So I don’t see it’s an issue.”
Salman, who is the 11th president of the AFC , said Pakistan came from a long way promoting the game in this region since results showed the level of their efforts and development they had made. “As the AFC is concerned, we are happy with Pakistan Football Federation (PFF) because it is active not only at teams’ level but in all fields including technical, grassroots, and conducting seminars or courses. It is obtaining all the objectives any federation needs to attain the goals.”
“With the president like Makhdoom Syed Faisal Saleh Hayat, it is an honour for the federation to have a very capable person who is accomplishing any given task competently and running the PFF in a befitting manner. We are proud to have him as an AFC executive on board and a chair of its legal committee, which is one of the most important committee that we have. It is trust we have between us which is always good to have any relationship among a confederation and it’s allied. I am happy we are working together for the betterment of football in Asia particularly in Pakistan,” he added.
When asked as earlier the AFC had provided eight goals project to Pakistan, had they any such further plan for the country, Salman replied: “First, the PFF must be determined what its priorities are and it must have clear plans on what the future lies. The goal projects are mainly concerned about the infrastructure but again the technical and administrative support needed how to run the federation effectively, as these are the tools which AFC can provide to promote the game in Pakistan.”
The SAFF Women’s Football Championship is being organised smoothly in Islamabad by the PFF which is being participated by most of SAFF members. When asked would events like this help Pakistan in getting more international events, the AFC chief said: “In the beginning, we need to talk about SAFF and their activities in the region. They have been active in hosting and organising the tournaments of men, women, youth, etc. This is very important for the countries in the region to play against each others to know exactly what the level of football is, so when they need our support, we’ll be very glad to help them.
“The women’s tournament here in Pakistan is the event which is very encouraging so hopefully, the SAFF will get encouraged to ask the PFF to host other tournaments as well. The tournament is being hosted successfully and the administration of the PFF has been doing exceptionally well. As I said from my part as confederation, we are supportive in those initiatives by regional associations.”
Talking about women’s football in Asia, he said: “Women’s football is always difficult but Asia is probably one of the continents that have achieved such success in this particular area as Japan is champion at senior level while Korea is at junior level. We have flourished women’s football at specific part of Asia but now we need to focus on other parts as well.”
“As an AFC chief , almost two years have gone which are enough for anybody to achieve the set goals. But again the plan is, first of all, to have stability in Asia to unify and create family atmosphere among all the member associations, to put Asia back on track and I think it’s my responsibility to bring the ship back into the sea.
AFC has a priority to bring stability in every organisation and this can be done with the help and support of all the members. Our mission now is to bring reforms to make the continent more competitive in the game. We need to focus on national associations more closely as we say ‘future is Asia’ so I hope with all support from our sponsors and local partners, we will make Asia’s soccer future brighter,” he added.
Speaking about the role of Faisal as PFF president as well as member of AFC committees, the AFC chief said: “I think the PFF is blessed to have a president, who has some stability in the federation and this is very important for us. He is a person that I can rely on and this is something very important for me. He is doing his duties well at national and Asian levels and he is capable of doing this as he is a right man to perform any given task with his vision and hard work. For us, he is very trustworthy and efficient; therefore, we have very strong relations with him.” “For me, football is an investment so the governments and federations together should invest heavily on this game which will certainly generate huge revenues in return,” Salman concluded.