AFC president urges football world to unite behind Qatar World Cup 

The Qatar World Cup will see the FIFA tournament being hosted in the Middle East for the first time in history.

The footballing world must united behind the FIFA World Cup 2022 in Qatar, President of the Asian Football Confederation (AFC) Sheikh Salman bin Ibrahim Al Khalifa said, with less than two weeks to kickoff.

Citing the return of the World Cup to Asia after 20 years, Al Khalifa stated that the sport of football has the power to bring everyone together, in a statement published on the AFC website.

“The FIFA World Cup is returning to Asia after 20 long years, and that too at a challenging time when the entire world is recovering from the after-effects of a deadly pandemic. There are deep undercurrents of cynicism due to a combination of factors,” said the AFC resident.

“But no other sport has the unique power to bring us all together in a positive spirit of joy, excitement, and optimism, and there is no other competition better positioned than the FIFA World Cup to send out a resoundingly inclusive message of goodwill and peace in these difficult times,” added Al Khalifa.

The AFC president also applauded Qatar for its effort in hosting the tournament and emphasised the significance of producing a successful World Cup.

“A successful FIFA World Cup in Qatar is the need of the hour as it is the pathway to foster and promote understanding and solidarity, and it is my sincere hope that in these challenging times, we will not be distracted from appreciating the great joy football, as a unifying force for good, is capable of bringing us,” Al Khalifa expressed.

Qatar will be the second country in the Asian mainland to ever host the World Cup since South Korea and Japan co-hosted in 2002. The Asian section has ushered six countries, including first-timers Qatar.

Al Khalifa’s comments come as Qatar continues to face a mass campaign against its hosting of the tournament, in what officials in Doha have described as “racist”.

Last month, Qatar’s Amir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani slammed what he described as “ferocious” attacks levelled at the Gulf state.

“Since we won the honour of hosting the World Cup, Qatar has faced an unprecedented campaign that no other host nation has received. And we had handled it at first in good faith while considering some of the criticism positive and beneficial,” Sheikh Tamim told the Shura Council.

AFC Asian Cup

Next year, the Gulf state will be the first nation to host the AFC Asian Cup three times, just months after hosting the World Cup.

Qatar Football Association (QFA) President Sheikh Hamad bin Khalifa bin Ahmed Al Thani anointed the 2023 Asian Cup, a festival for the entire continent.

“We believed that Asian football needed us to put forward our bid, especially since we are already prepared for the FIFA World Cup 2022. We hosted the FIFA Arab Cup 2021, which was a celebration for all Arabs, so we want to make the AFC Asian Cup 2023 a festival for all our friends throughout Asia,” Sheikh Hamad said.

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