Thawadi aims to convince the global football community that Qatar remains a worthy host.
(AP Photo / Neil Barker)
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When Sheffield FC formed in this northern English steel city 160 years ago, the wealth awash in the modern game was unimaginable to the founders of the world's first football club. The symbol of how vastly football has changed is thousands of miles away in the Gulf, where stadiums are springing up in the Qatari desert and tens of billions of dollars are invested in infrastructure to ensure a tiny nation can host the 32-team World Cup in 2022 .But Olive Grove, where the first rules of the modern game were conceived by Sheffield FC's founders, was the latest stop this week for Qatar World Cup leader Hassan al-Thawadi on a mission to convince the global football community that his country remains a worthy host of the FIFA showpiece.Seven years after the controversial vote and five years until kickoff, doubts linger about Qatar's suitability and right to host the Middle East's first World Cup.Now more powerful forces are at play threatening the World Cup: Four Arab countries have severed diplomatic ties and placed Qatar under a blockade since June in a move claimed to stop the natural-gas-rich country from supporting terrorism – a charge denied by Thawadi.It started in 2009 while Thawadi was canvassing for FIFA votes in South Africa, and led in 2015 to 100,000 pounds (then $153,000) being invested by Thawadi to help the women's team.
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