Valcke: Qatar can host World Cup in 8 stadiumsBy GRAHAM DUNBAR , Associated Press
May. 3, 2013 6:42 AM ET
KUALA LUMPUR, Malaysia (AP) — Qatar's option to reduce how many stadiums it builds for the 2022 World Cup is fine with FIFA.
FIFA secretary general Jerome Valcke told The Associated Press on Friday that just eight stadiums are needed to stage the 64-match tournament, despite the 12-venue plan required when bidding.
"There is a discussion. We will be pragmatic and we will find the right number," Valcke said in an interview, predicting "eight to 10" venues will be chosen by a 2018 deadline.
Last month, an American investment bank revealed after meeting Qatar's organizing committee that fewer stadiums were being considered.
Bank of America Merrill Lynch told investors that building all 12 could push World Cup-linked construction costs over its $95 billion estimate.
Qatar's pledge to develop stadium air-conditioning technology to combat the searing Gulf heat is central to an ambitious urban architectural plan. It includes new transport networks in what is the smallest country ever chosen as a World Cup host.
"I don't see the interest for Qatar to have 12 stadiums," said Valcke, highlighting its size rather than cost-cutting as the deciding factor for the gas-rich economy.
"It can be seen as a budget question, but I think that for Qatar it's not the main point. Do something that makes sense for your country, not only for your budget. With less you can do something that is beautiful."
Qatar follows Brazil and Russia as World Cup hosts, and those huge countries opted for 12 stadiums.
"Russia will use the World Cup to promote Russia, to develop other cities than just St. Petersburg and Moscow," said Valcke, who leads FIFA's liaison with host nations.
Playing an average of eight matches at each venue over an expected 31-day schedule is also acceptable.
"If you have very good pitches you can play every day in a stadium. It's fine, we have no problem," Valcke said. "The question is more about protecting the surface and making sure teams that will play in different stadiums will have the same quality."
Qatar 2022 organizing committee leader Hassan Al Thawadi told the AP the project followed the same decision-making process as Brazil and Russia.
"What's going to happen in Qatar is no different to what is going to happen at other World Cups," he said.