By Onochie Anibeze
One time Africa’s Footballer Of The Year, Victor Ikpeba, has joined the cream of stars backing Qatar to host a successful World Cup in 2022.
Qatar won the right to host the 2022 World Cup but the Middle East country has never known peace since world football governing body, Fifa, awarded them the right.
Europe has been on their neck with England leading the campaign for the bid to be thrown open again. Issues were first raised with the weather which is truly not football friendly at summer.
Qatar impressed fifa delegates that inspected the country with a promise to install a technology that will cool the stadium atmosphere during games.
When the issue of weather appeared to be waning as Qatar said that they were open to the option of hosting the games at winter, that of bribery came up. They are being accused of compromising some officials to vote for them.
“We have heard a lot of things Europe has against Qatar,” Ikpeba, fondly called the Prince of Monaco said at the weekend.
He was a big name at Monaco and broke the transfer record at Dortmund when he signed for Borussia Dortmund of Germany. Ikpeba said the following:
“From weather to bribery, the issues appear not to be ending. I just want to say that I was in Europe when France won the bid and hosted the France ’98 World Cup. They lobbied to host the World Cup.
Germany Lobbied to host the World Cup. All countries lobby to host international events. I don’t know about bribery. It is wrong to bribe but it is part of the game to put up a good proposal and lobby to be awarded the right which I think Qatar did and got it right.
I think that people should realise that it is the World Cup that we are talking about and all parts of the world have the right to host the World Cup if they meet the conditions and satisfy the inspectors. If Fifa was discriminatory we would not have had the chance to host the World Cup in Africa.
If Fifa was discriminatory in the past they have now changed. The Middle East could host the World Cup and I’m solidly behind Qatar. If it’s winter that will be good for the game of football let some continents adjust their league.
The important thing that Fifa is doing is to take the game to all parts of the world. They are promoting the game and taking it to every home. I think that such a thing should be supported by all men of goodwill and all who mean well for the game.
Hosting World Cup in Qatar will change a lot in the Middle East and if we could host it successfully in Africa, I think they (middle East) should be able to do so if not better. I think that some people have not imbibed the spirit of sportsmanship in this regard. And that’s why they still have issues with Qatar. They should learn to accept defeat and accommodate all in the interest of the game.”
Among the world stars who have backed the Qatar 2022 World Cup are Zinedine Zidane of France, Raul Gonzalez of Spain, Pep Guardiola, former Barcelona coach who holds the ace now at Bayern Munich, Bora Milutinovic, a World Cup veteran who has taken four countries to Mundial, late Bruno Metsu, Christian Karembeu who played for France, Mohammed Aboutrika of Egypt, Gabriel Batistuta of Argentina, Ronald de Boer of Holland, Sami Al Jaber of Saudi Arabia and Roger Mila of Cameroun.
They are all ambassadors of the Qatar 2022 World Cup and now Victor Ikpeba, a one time Nigerian international who was a big star in Europe and now does football analysis for Super Sports, Africa’s topmost television cable station, has joined them in voicing support for Qatar 2022.