Guardiola to back Qatar World Cup bid

MADRID - Barcelona coach Pep Guardiola has agreed to become an ambassador for Qatar's bid to host the World Cup finals in 2022.

"I have lived there, they were very persistent, and because of the way they looked after me I decided to accept," Guardiola, who led Barca to a six-trophy haul in 2009, told reporters on Thursday.

The 39-year-old former Spanish international spent two seasons in Qatar near the end of his playing career between 2003 and 2005.

"There is a great passion for football there and it would help them to continue growing as a country," he added.

"If we keep taking the tournament to the same countries we won't live up to the ideals embodied in the name of the competition - the World Cup."

Asked if he would have split loyalties with Spain making a joint bid with Portugal for the 2018 or 2022 finals, Guardiola said: "(In 2018) it looks set to be Europe's turn and everyone hopes it will be Spain, and in 2022 that it will be in Qatar.

"I will help Spain and Portugal but I am sure they will give it to them."

Australia, England, Japan, Mexico, Netherlands/Belgium, Russia, Spain/Portugal and the United States are bidding for the 2018 or 2022 finals.

Indonesia, Qatar and South Korea are bidding for the finals in 2022 only.