Qatar says no World Cup games will be played outside country amid tournament doubts

Updated 19 January 2018

Qatar says no World Cup games will be played outside country amid tournament doubts

DOHA: Qatar will host every game of the 2022 World Cup, the country’s senior tournament organizer insisted Friday, amid speculation the Gulf political crisis would force the emirate to relocate matches.
Hassan Al-Thawadi, secretary-general of Qatar’s World Cup organizing committee, also maintained that preparations for the tournament were on schedule, despite the ongoing and increasingly bitter eight-month crisis.
“Qatar is the sole host country of the 2022 World Cup and will host the 64 matches of the tournament across eight planned venues,” Thawadi told AFP in a statement.
He was responding to a recent media claim that the 2022 matches could be played elsewhere in the region, specifically Iran, because of political and economic uncertainties.
Last June, Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Bahrain and Egypt cut all ties with Qatar over Doha’s alleged ties to Islamist extremists and a warming relationship with Iran, Saudi’s great regional rival.
Qatar denies all the accusations, but the crisis rumbles on with the World Cup an increasingly vulnerable issue.
Last year, an official from the UAE claimed that if Qatar gave up 2022 it could end the entrenched political stalemate.
And the Emirati foreign minister Anwar Gargash said Qatar could only host the World Cup if it shunned “extremism.”
The regional tensions have seemingly undermined Qatar’s claims for the first World Cup in the Middle East to be “a tournament for the region.”
Thawadi added that all stadiums would be finished by 2020, with FIFA to decide later this year on the final number of venues.
He also said there would be enough accommodation provided for visiting fans — claiming that Qatar would exceed its bid promise of 100,000 rooms — and none would be housed in migrant labor camps, as recently reported.
“The project is very much on schedule and FIFA is happy with our progress,” added Thawadi.
— AFP


Milan turn to Jay-Z’s Roc Nation, Liverpool to revive glory

Updated 09 July 2020

Milan turn to Jay-Z’s Roc Nation, Liverpool to revive glory

ROME: Preparing to complete a ninth Serie A campaign without winning the Scudetto, AC Milan decided returning to the pinnacle of football required a new approach.

Jay-Z’s entertainment agency Roc Nation is at the center of it, linking up with Milan to scour the world for sponsors and use concerts and other high-profile events to attract new fans.

And who better to ask about how to end a title drought than the team that just won their league for the first time in 30 years?

“We have been talking to Liverpool,” Milan chief revenue officer Casper Stylsvig told The Associated Press, “because they’ve been through the same path as we are going through now.”

Milan are enduring their longest Serie A drought since the 1980s. Despite beating leader Juventus on Tuesday, even the top four Champions League places are out of reach in this pandemic-delayed season. It’s been seven years since Milan last competed in Europe’s elite competition.

“We’re working very hard to get back to where we should be, and from that perspective, it does help open doors when you have won seven Champions Leagues,” Stylsvig said. 

“Playing European football is top of the agenda. It is our natural habitat and somewhere we should be.”

Only Real Madrid has lifted the European Cup more often than Milan. But that seventh title was won 13 years ago, by beating Liverpool.

Now Liverpool are the lodestar for Milan, which have fallen to 21st in the Deloitte ranking of football’s moneymakers with revenue of €206.3 million  ($234 million) in the last financial year, a third of the income at the newly crowned Premier League champions.

“Four, five years ago, no one considered Liverpool and see where they are now,” Stylsvig said. “They obviously play very attractive football. They are winning, they have a fantastic manager, a fantastic team and now they are following suit from a commercial perspective. It has taken time, but their model seems to work.”

Liverpool have been run for a decade by John Henry’s Fenway Sports Group. Milan have also had American ownership for three years since the takeover by the Elliott Management hedge fund.

“We are obviously a global brand,” Stylsvig said in a telephone interview. “I’ve probably been talking too much in the Italian market in the last few years and (the coronavirus) sort of pushed us to think more global again.”

The pandemic that shut down sports produced the first public manifestation of the partnership with Roc Nation when Milan staged a live virtual fundraising concert headlined by Alicia Keys.

“I do think merging sport and entertainment could be the way of engaging new fans,” Stylsvig said. “The world has changed dramatically and we need to follow suit. Roc Nation is helping us, challenging us with that, having someone on the sideline to do that.”

The biggest audiences logging in to watch “From Milan with Love” were from China and the US.

With no games being played during the three-month Serie A shutdown — and crowds still prohibited from matches — Milan have had to find new ways of connecting with its fan base and fulfilling commercial deals.

“It’s been incredibly challenging,” Stylsvig said. “You basically have to rethink the model. So one of the first things we did was focusing much more on a digital space, creating content and trying to be engaging and trying to talk to our partners.”

Further down the line is moving into a new stadium, with plans to rebuild the San Siro it shares with Inter Milan.

“That will change the club,” Stylsvig said. “The revenues are incredibly important but also for the perception of the club.”