Platini hopes Qatar shares 2022 World Cup matches

Published Jan. 12, 2011 4:26 p.m. ET

FIFA Vice President Michel Platini wants Qatar to share 2022 World Cup hosting duties with its Gulf neighbors.

Platini, who is also president of UEFA, did not specify which other countries Qatar could invite to stage matches, but said there was time to reach agreements.

''I hope it will be a World Cup of the Gulf,'' Platini said. ''If it is in 11 years, I think we need political people, but I think so.''

The idea of Qatar sharing the World Cup was raised by FIFA President Sepp Blatter within days of the Dec. 2 decision to send the 2022 tournament to the tiny emirate.

Platini also has said he agrees with moving the tournament to January to avoid Qatar's extreme desert heat in summer.

As chairman of the French organizing committee for the 1998 World Cup, Platini said he had altered some plans after winning hosting rights.

''Who will remember the words in 12 years?'' Platini said Tuesday at an informal briefing. ''In 12 years everybody will be happy to have a very well organized World Cup and not remember what's happened before.''


Qatar football leader Mohamed Bin Hammam, a member of FIFA's executive committee, has advocated waiting until 2018 before discussing changes to the hosting plan.

Platini and Bin Hammam are seen as front-runners to be the next FIFA president.

Qatar overcame criticism while bidding for having 10 of 12 proposed stadiums within a 30-kilometer (19-mile) radius.

A FIFA technical analysis flagged up concerns of ''logistical and operational challenges'' hosting 64 matches, 32 teams and hundreds of thousands of visitors in a territory smaller than Montenegro.

In a wide-ranging and relaxed 40-minute session, Platini confirmed that taking the World Cup to so-called ''new lands'' of Russia in 2018 and Qatar in 2022 was the decisive argument - and that Qatar's first lady had been persuasive.

''When the wife of the Emir says, 'When will you come to the Middle East? When will you come to the Arabian people? It's not possible for us to have the World Cup? Tell me why,''' Platini explained.

Since the vote in Zurich, losing candidates including England, Australia and the United States have questioned why FIFA never told them a developed western-style nation would not win.

Platini said it was in FIFA's interest to have bidders seek to outdo each other.

''If I am the president of FIFA ... if I have more countries I can ask for more guarantees, because you will fight,'' he said.

Platini evaded questions about his ambitions to lead FIFA, possibly in 2015 if the 74-year-old Blatter wins a fourth term in June as seems likely.

''I am running for the UEFA president in two months,'' said the former France great, who will be unopposed at a congress in Paris. ''Do you think that I will say to everybody, 'No, no, no, but in four years I will think about the FIFA president?'

''We have time.''

Platini declined to say if he expected Blatter to be challenged in the FIFA election.

''It is good to have a competition for the democracy, but when you are in the competition it is good to be alone,'' he joked.

Platini distanced himself from some of the many ideas and opinions Blatter has aired since the World Cup vote.

The FIFA president has said - adding ''Michel Platini agrees'' - that Europe's top leagues should be smaller and have fewer matches, to help keep players fresh for the World Cup.

Platini suggested this ''old battle'' dated back to his playing career in the 1970s and would never be supported by clubs.

Blatter also hinted while in Qatar last week that resentment of British football's historical privileges within FIFA influenced England's resounding defeat in the 2018 vote.

The four British federations - England, Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales - share a FIFA vice president position which guarantees them one seat on the 24-member ruling executive body. They also are guardians of football's rules, making up half of the panel that annually considers changes. Each has one vote and FIFA delegates have the other four.

Platini said he would not change the rules panel, known as IFAB, to include other nations.

''I think it's tradition and it's good like that,'' he said.

Addressing mostly London-based reporters, Platini said England was still important in the global football family despite the apparent World Cup snub that sparked anger and frustration toward FIFA and its leaders.

''It is not because the members don't vote for you that they don't like you,'' Platini insisted. ''I think FIFA and UEFA needs big countries and (England) definitely is a big country.

''We are in the same way for football. We have to be together.''