Qatar 2022 'culmination of Arab Spring'

LONDON - The Qatar 2022 World Cup could be viewed as a celebration of recent public uprisings in the Arab world with a mainly young population bringing their passion together in sport, the organising committee's general secretary said on Wednesday.

Revolutions in Libya, Egypt and Tunisia along with political protests in other Arab countries have swept the region and the rebuilding of those societies goes hand in hand with the sporting changes happening in Qatar.

"I think [the World Cup] complements what is happening in the Arab Spring," Hassan Al Thawadi told the Leaders in Football conference at Chelsea's Stamford Bridge stadium.

"I do think that by 2022, as visitors come and see a Middle Eastern World Cup being hosted in Qatar, they will feel that it's a celebration following a decade since the rebirth started."

He wanted all of the Middle East to feel it was their World Cup and to travel to the tournament.

"The Middle East has a young population. Sporting events in general have always been the best conduits for bringing passions together."

The tiny nation, which last December won the bid to host the soccer extravaganza against the odds, is plotting a mini-cultural revolution for World Cup visitors with new museums, entertainment complexes and readily-available alcohol.

But Al Thawadi said there was no risk of any political problems in Qatar in the build up to the World Cup.

"There is a significant move from the government towards reform," he said.

He again vehemently denied corruption allegations surrounding the winning bid and stuck to the plan of hosting a summer World Cup despite some in the football sphere believing a winter event might be better given the intense Qatar heat.

Qatar is also bidding for the 2020 Olympics but has indicated it would like to hold the event slightly later than usual in September or October because of the weather.

Al Thawadi said this was because of events like the marathon and pointed out the World Cup organising committee have two more years to perfect the cooling systems which will air condition stadiums, training facilities and fan parks.

The positive aspect of Qatar as host is its small size, he said.

"Fans will be able to see more than one game in a day. You can stay in the same accommodation throughout the whole event," he declared.