DOHA, Qatar, Mar 16 – Simon Clegg has plenty of experience, when talking about major sporting events – having worked alongside David Beckham when London was awarded the 2012 Olympic Games. The board member of the London 2012 bid was one of the three British signatories of the International Olympic Committee (IOC) host city contract to London of July 6, 2005, at the IOC’s 117th session in Singapore. Now Clegg believes, it is the right moment to expand the reach of the world’s biggest sporting events to new corners of the globe.

“I am delighted that Qatar was chosen as host nation of the 2022 FIFA World Cup and I have no doubts that the country will do a great job. I was at the Doha Goals Forum in 2014 and was impressed with the facilities,” Clegg told recently, on the sidelines of Josoor Institute’s professional development workshop, titled: ‘Creating High Performance Sports Organisations’.

“I am an idealist and I believe that global sporting movements, such as the IOC and FIFA, need to extend their reach and, in particular, hosting opportunities to all five continents,” said Clegg, 56, who was the Chief Operating Officer of the inaugural edition of the European Games held in Baku, Azerbaijan, last year.

“It is wonderful that the FIFA World Cup is coming to Asia, for the second time in its long history, and to the Middle East for the first time ever. This is the best way to promulgate the ideals of this global event. Ultimately, events such as the FIFA World Cup and the Olympic Games are all about bringing the most talented youth together on one platform and getting them to compete in a peaceful environment, thereby engendering goodwill among nations and communities,” added Clegg, the former chief executive of the British Olympic Association, who has had a glittering career in high performance sports for more than three decades, since graduating from Britain’s elite Sandhurst military academy.

Clegg’s experiences are vast and varied and when he talks, listening to him becomes an educating and entertaining endeavour rolled into one. For instance, here is his advice for the Qatar national team, based on his experiences with London 2012: “Similarly, the Qatar FA and other stakeholders must set ambitious, yet realistic, targets for the national team in 2022,” he said. “For me, looking at it from the outside, emerging out of the group stages could be Qatar’s gold medal moment in 2022. And any further progress would be an added bonus. Qatar has about seven years to build a team, put the youngsters through a bubble and get them to best represent the hopes and aspirations of a nation in 2022.”

Clegg, who inspired a staff of 2,500 and 12,000 volunteers to deliver the European Games successfully, also praised the Supreme Committee for Delivery and Legacy (SC) on the preparations to date. “I think that the SC has got its balance right, between setting up infrastructure and the actual organisational delivery,” he said.

“If one has the financial resources, it is fairly easy to put together the operational delivery in a short period of time. In Baku, we achieved this within 30 months. However, setting up the infrastructure is the arduous task and I think the Qatar World Cup organisers are right in focusing on this at this early stage,” said Clegg.

Clegg said, he would be honoured to provide inputs, if asked, to contribute his bit towards making the first World Cup in the Middle East a success. If not, as a fan, he would be hoping that his national team England emulates the 1966 World Cup success achieved at home by Bobby Moore and his men

Source: QNA