Qatar bid CEO Hassan Al Thawadi with Guardiola and Sheikh Hamad bin Khalifa Al Thani, president of the Qatari FA (Qatar 2022)

(WFI) Barcelona coach Pep Guardiola is the latest high-profile name to become an ambassador of the Qatar 2022 World Cup bid.

“I believe this is a truly unique bid, and a wonderful opportunity to spread the magic and the benefits of the world’s favourite game across the globe,” he said today.

Guardiola, who played for Qatar’s Al Ahli Club from 2003 to 2005, recently returned to the Gulf nation after leading his team to the FIFA Club World Cup title in Abu Dhabi, the sixth trophy of Barca’s 2008-09 season.

Saying he was impressed by Qatar’s football development and infrastructure investment, he added: “My experience in Qatar, as well as the outstanding organisation and football passion we witnessed in the UAE during the Club World Cup, makes me confident that Qatar and the Middle East can host a spectacular, passionate and unforgettable World Cup that embraces all the FIFA ideals.”

Guardiola has brushed aside suggestions of any conflict with the Spain-Portugal bid, pointing to the widespread view that FIFA will award the 2018 World Cup to Europe. This would leave Qatar in a bid contest for the 2022 edition with the US, Australia and South Korea.

Barcelona’s coach is not the only Qatar bid ambassador to be working for bids against their own countries. Dutchman Ronald De Boer has already paid lip service to the Qatar bid, showing his support at events including the FIFA Bid Country Expo held in Cape Town in December. Holland-Belgium are one of the four European bids vying to stage the 2018 or 2022 World Cup.

World Cup legends Gabriel Batistuta, Roger Milla, Sami Al Jaber and Bora Milutinovic are also Qatar ambassadors.

Commenting on Guardiola’s appointment, Qatar 2022 bid CEO Hassan Abdulla Al Thawadi said: “We are honoured to work together with Josep to bring the World Cup to Qatar in 2022. Both as a player and as a coach he has been the personification of dedication and passion on the football pitch.”

“More than any of his astonishing successes, though, we are delighted to have him on our team because of his continued commitment to youth development in football.”

No 2010 World Cup role for Hiddink
Guus Hiddink will not manage a team at this summer’s South Africa World Cup after confirming he has signed a contract to become the new manager of Turkey.

Hiddink, who inked a two-year contract with the option of a further two years with the Turkish Football Federation, will start Aug. 1. He is expected to stay with Russia until that contract expires June 30, meaning he could not take a team to the June 11 to July 11 World Cup.

Nigeria, South Korea or Ivory Coast had expressed interest in recruiting Hiddink for the World Cup.

Turkey will become the fifth national side to be coached by Hiddink, after his stints at Russia, South Korea, Australia and the Netherlands.

His agent Cees van Nieuwenhuizen said the Turkish FA had been pursuing the Dutch coach since October last year after he failed to guide Russia to the World Cup.

“That’s when we had our first talks. They were on the answering machine as soon as the Russian team failed to qualify for the World Cup, so their persistence has paid off,” Van Nieuwenhuizen told ANP.

Hiddink, who managed Turkish football giants Fenerbahçe in the 1990-1991 season, succeeds Fatih Terim, who quit last October after Turkey missed out on qualification for the World Cup.

The Dutchman is charged with guiding Turkey to the UEFA Euro 2012 championships in Ukraine and Poland. In a tough qualifying group, Turkey face Belgium, Germany, Austria,

Hiddink starts his new job with Turkey Aug. 1 (Getty Images)

Kazakhstan and Azerbaijan. Hiddink will be assisted in his quest by former Turkish captain Oğuz Çetin.

Russia confirm Soccerex sponsorship
Russia’s 2018/2022 World Cup bid will have a significant presence at the Soccerex European Forum in Manchester from 2-3 March.

The bid committee, led by Russian sports minister Vitaly Mutko and CEO
Alexey Sorokin, will sponsor a networking café and drinks reception at
the meeting. The announcement follows the Russian bid’s participation
at Soccerex 09 in South Africa.
“Soccerex continues to form an important part of our promotional strategy,” said Sorokin.

“As we enter a very busy phase in our campaign, we recognize the value
of being able to reach in one place as many key decision-makers in
football as possible.”

FIFA president Sepp Blatter offered some encouraging words for the bid
on a recent trip to Moscow where he met with Russian president Dmitry
Medvedev and discussed the bid and the country’s football developments.

“I believe that the World Cup should leave a legacy, and this idea is coming to life here in Russia,” Blatter said.
The Soccerex European Forum at Manchester Central brings together the
leading executives from UEFA, football clubs including the entire
Premier League, brands, leagues and service providers; 180 senior club
representatives are signed up for the event.

Karl-Heinz Rummenigge, chairman of the European Club Association (ECA)
and FC Bayern Munich, is the latest high-profile football executive to
confirm his attendance. He will lead the ECA’s press conference
announcing the outcomes of its General Assembly, hosted in Manchester
March 1-2.

Portsmouth plea to Premier League

Premier League strugglers Portsmouth have asked the EPL for permission to sell players outside the transfer window in an effort to save the cash-strapped club from going under.

With reported debts of £60m and no news of a new buyer, Pompey are desperately seeking an injection of cash to pay off a £12.1 million tax bill to Revenue & Customs to avoid the ignominy of becoming the first EPL club to go into administration.

Portsmouth’s winding-up petition is scheduled to be heard at the High Court on March 1. On Wednesday, the club submitted a Statement of Affairs with the High Court in London to show they are still a solvent company.

The club has confirmed it has made the request to the EPL to help raise money from player sales but such as move must be approved by the Premier League, Football Association and FIFA.

“FIFA can confirm it has received correspondence from the FA relating to the financial situation at Portsmouth FC and the proposed measures to be taken in this respect,” a FIFA spokesman told Reuters.

On Wednesday, the club submitted a Statement of Affairs with the High Court in London to show they are still a solvent company.

Cabanas recovery continues after shooting
Paraguay striker Salvador Cabanas is out of intensive care as he continues his recovery from a gun shot to the head last month in Mexico

Cabanas, who plays for Club America de Mexico, was shot at
point-blank range in a bar on Jan. 25. His neurosurgeon Ernesto
Martinez told of Cabanas’s improvement at a press conference on

Martinez said the player’s condition was “very favourable”. “His movements are more agile without any complication
and he is taking all medications.”

Doctors said
swelling around the bullet had decreased significantly and that Cabanas was able to speak.

Before the shooting, Cabanas was expected to lead Paraguay to the World Cup in South Africa. It
is unclear what the future holds for Cabanas.

Written by Mark Bisson ([email protected])
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