While the plans to stage the 2022 World Cup in Qatar have a sizeable number of detractors, New York Red Bulls midfielder Tim Cahill has given his backing to the host nation.
The 34-year-old former Everton star was speaking after travelling to Doha for Australia’s friendly match against their AFC rivals, in which his Socceroos proved powerless to prevent the home side pulling off a shock 1-0 win.
‘Qatar will prove many people wrong, they should be proud of what they’re creating. But you have got to give them the opportunity,’ he said in post-game interviews.
‘It’s disrespectful for people to comment when they haven’t been to Qatar. But I’ve been here for holiday, I’ve been here for football, my family’s been here, and the main thing is when they do something they do something properly.People need to wait and then make their predictions after they’ve visited the country.’
Cahill also brushed off the obvious concerns about the heat in Qatar, insisting that footballers are used to adapting to such conditions, despite even FIFA president Sepp Blatter admitting that the tournament might have to be moved to the winter due to the dangers.
‘There was a breeze [at the match], but yes, Qatar is hot. Locals will tell you it is very hot, but the adaptability of football in every nation is the same,’ he said.
‘Sometimes if you play in England it rains, and here it’s hot, but you have to adapt to the situation. You have to give football a chance in every nation, not just because they have the best and biggest leagues in the world.’
Cahill further added that he was impressed with the strength of the opposition on the night, and is adamant that Qatar is well on track to developing into a respectable footballing nation.
‘Qatar’s got to keep doing what they're doing and that’s developing good footballers and developing state of the art facilities,’ he added. ‘When I visit ASPIRE — the best in the world when it comes to facilities and creating a community for the growth of football — I can’t say anything bad.
‘People say to me, posting on social media, that people make me do it – no. The way they treat my family, my teammates, and my fellow countrymen and their families it’s just such a beautiful, beautiful place so there’s not a bad word for me to say.
‘It’s one of the most professional setups I’ve ever been to in the world and you’ve got to embrace the way the people are and the hospitality. As a nation we’ve always been treated well, not only the players but our fans, it’s a proud country that has a big respect factor for people that visit and they’ve got to enjoy what they’ve got, especially their football team that’s growing every day.’
Cahill himself will be long retired once 2022 rolls around, but one would imagine that there are a fair number of people who would take umbrage with his comments, given the human rights-based criticism the tournament preparations have come under.