Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Cantona aims kick at Platini

Manchester United legend Eric Cantona has criticised UEFA President Michel Platini for his role in choosing Qatar as 2022 World Cup host.

Cantona, who played under Platini for France in the early 1990s, told Le Parisien newspaper in Paris that the blame for handing the World Cup to a nation with extreme summer temperatures should not lie with FIFA President Sepp Blatter. 

"It was an idea of Platini," said Cantona. "It was also Platini who gave the European U21 Championship to Israel, which is also disrepectful on the level of human rights. In Qatar," he went on, "there is absolutely nothing to develop, no potential. It is a small country...(the) people are absolutely not interested in the sport and never will be."

Platini has admitted he voted for Qatar, but has not come out openly to say he was the driving force behind the bid within FIFA. In the final round of voting with the Executive Committee in 2010, Qatar beat the USA 14-8, but the decision has been dogged by controversy ever since.

Platini's role has been the subject of attention in the French media after he admitted attending a dinner ahead of the vote at the Elysée Palace with then President Nicolas Sarkozy and the Emir and Prime Minister of Qatar.

France Football magazine devoted an issue to the topic recently entitled 'Le Qatar-Clysme' and has also referred to the political mess as 'Qatargate'.

Nevertheless, FIFA seems adamant the vote will not be re-run and General Secretary Jerome Valcke confirmed this month there will be no summer World Cup in the Middle East.

"The World Cup will be played in winter," said Valcke. "I think everyone has said that and repeated it. Now we need to know when in winter it will be played and the Executive Committee will try to reply to that in March 2015." 

November to December 2021 is the expected period for the tournament, to avoid being staged too close to the Winter Olympics in February 2022.

Meanwhile in Qatar, work has started on the first of eight stadia for 2022. The Al-Wakrah venue ten miles south of the capital Doha will have a capacity of 40,000 for the World Cup Finals, reducing to 20,000 after the tournament.

The design is by the internationally-acclaimed 'starchitect' Zaha Hadid, creator of London's 2012 Olympic Pool amongst other buildings and is inspired by the local tradition of pearl fishing.



-Sean O'Conor & Soccerphile

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