Posted: 12/3/2010
Title: ONE SMILING ENGLISHMAN IN ZURICH

Blog:                                                                                                                         

      If you look at the bids for FIFA World Cup 2022 to start with, you think the 22 exec members that voted must be crazy, bribed or stupid.

       Maybe they were all three, with summer temperatures at the time of the 2010 World Cup as high as 53 C in Qatar, the bid winner. Its a feudal sheikdom without democracy, 75% of the residents are foreigners, and Israelis and gays are banned. Well, a little like FIFA maybe?

      However, there was a genius at work on behalf of their bid and he is an Englishman with a stupid haircut similar to that of F1 boss Bernie Ecclestone. The PR guru is called MIKE LEE, OBE. He received the honour from a grateful British government when he joined the London 2012 bid in 2003 that was trailing Madrid and Paris by a few lengths and won. He got rid of the American lady and replaced her with Lord Sebastian Coe. Lee was the first ever head of media for the new Premier League in 1992 and later joined UEFA as Director of Communications.

     He later worked for the successful Rio de Janeiro 2016 Olympic Games bid team and also worked for the International Rugby Board and was instrumental in getting Rugby 7 a side into future summer Olympics.  He was passed over for consideration by the England 2018 bid team and LOOK WHAT HAPPENED.!

      He was signed on board by Qatari Emir Sheikh Mohammed. I met him at their booths in Sandton, South Africa almost a year ago, and in Manchester early this year at www.soccerex.com football business expos. At the first location I also chatted with Bora Milutinovic, who has coached World Cup teams such as Mexico '86, Costa Rica '90  USA '94, Nigeria '98 and  China 2002. He took the first four passed the first round.

      Other famous foreigners paid vast amounts to work on the bid's behalf include Holland's Ronald de Boer, and France's Zinedine Zidane. While I and others received lavish food, drinks and gift packages, he told me that he understood some Arabic. I think the same could be said for his English !

        No long journeys on arrival in Doha. 10 of the 12 venues are within a 25km radius. 7 of those stadiums will be situated in two adjacent cities, Al-Rayyan and Doha. Not much to do between matches except stay cool in a hotel room. No alcohol of course, but a choice of camel's milk, Arab whisky( hot mint tea), or bitter coffee. Entertainment? Well, beheadings and stonings are being postponed for a month, but there are bible burnings outside the mosques on Fridays, pebble skipping contests in the harbour, camel spitting for distance, Miss Qatar competition-(though with all the contestants covered head to toe in black it could be difficult to judge).

   Don't go swimming or sunbathing after breakfast, it will be too hot. They aim to air cool stadiums, training sites and fan zones, BUT how do you air ondition a country, even though its smaller than Yorkshire? Of course the FIFA 22 and families will be in air conditioned limos.

  

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