Laudrup: Players, fans will benefit from compact WC 2022
DOHA: Former Denmark and FC Barcelona legend Michael Laudrup has said that players and fans will be the first to benefit from the compact tournament at the 2022 FIFA World Cup Qatar™. The attacking midfielder who was hailed by former Real Madrid teammate Raul as ‘the best I have ever played with’, took the time out from his coaching schedule to find out more about Qatar’s plans.
Laudrup arrived in Doha earlier this summer, taking charge of current Qatar Stars League champions Lekhwiya, following a spell in the English Premier League with Swansea City.
After seeing first-hand the plans being put in place by the Supreme Committee for Delivery & Legacy (SC) for the 2022 FIFA World Cup Qatar™, he said: “I think it will be very appreciated both by players and by fans. For fans it will be cheaper, they won’t have to travel so much, especially for the teams that go far in the competition because if they play five, six, or seven games in four or five different cities it is expensive. Secondly it’s good for the teams, you come, you have your base and you stay there until you finish the competition. As a former player I like that.”
Having played in the 1986 and 1998 editions of the FIFA World Cup™, as well as being an assistant coach with Denmark in 2002, Laudrup knows what he’s talking about when it comes to the competition.
“I remember three FIFA World Cups I’ve been in, two as a player and one as a coach; you play in one game then you go to the airport and travel four or five hours, then the second game, same thing, and then you’re off to a new city again. So you can just stay in the same base for the whole period and that will be well received by both players and coaches.”
Laudrup, who is currently enjoying a successful start to his career at Lekhwiya, said he is looking forward to attending the 2022 FIFA World Cup Qatar™: “Yes I will come. I will really want to come and see this World Cup. Actually I wanted to go to the World Cup in Brazil as well, but because I had to come here I couldn’t go. I will definitely be here to watch as a spectator or commentator in 2022.”
Laudrup said he was also looking forward to playing his first match in the stadium of Al Sadd, where cooling technology has been working since 2008.
“I know one stadium has this technology here, the Al Sadd stadium. So I’m looking forward to when we play them in a few weeks and I will hopefully try and see how it is and the sensation that it gives you.”
While he is focused on leading his team to silverware in Qatar and making them a force in Asian football, Laudrup also keeps his eyes on the rivalry in Spain between his two former teams and says he cannot predict who will be stronger this season.
“That’s a difficult one,” he admitted. “I see Real Madrid very strong, although I must admit I’m very surprised of the two players they have sold. Di Maria and Xabi Alonso are very good players. I know Xabi Alonso is not young anymore but he was very good for them.
“Barcelona have also signed Suarez even though I know he still needs to wait a few months before playing. I don’t know what to say, I would have said Real Madrid look stronger but now I don’t know. I think both of them will compete to the end. The state, mind, and physical condition of Messi will be important, because he’s the best player. And Ronaldo as well, he ended the season not as a 100% with injuries, had problems at the World Cup. So these two players are very, very important. They’re not everything in these teams, but they are very important. Their season will have a huge impact on how Real Madrid and Barca will do.”
Laudrup recently visited the SC offices in Doha to find out more about progress currently underway on five stadiums in Qatar, as well as the infrastructure plans which will transport fans between venues in a rapid and efficient manner.
“Now seeing how the metro will be and all the other public transportation then yes, I think it will be fine. What I do think is that this will be a very special World Cup because for the first time everything will be in the same city. Of course there is the Al Khor stadium, but we are talking maximum 40 minutes driving distance. That would be the first time in World Cup history.
“I think if it can work, it will be a positive experience because it will be cheaper for fans who won’t have to travel like fans who did from Rio to Fortaleza. But even in France people had to travel from Marseille to Paris to Lens, and all this costs time and money. This counts for the players as well, they can stay in the same area for the duration of their matches.”