O’Leary has sampled the footballing culture of the Middle East when he was manager of Al-Ahli Dubai in the United Arab Emirates and admits that he was surprised at the decision made by FIFA to award Qatar the tournament.
When O’Leary was in charge at Al-Ahli, the squad had to adjust to the climate and train at night in what was sometimes a cool 41 degrees. In the summer, the Middle Eastern temperatures can reach scorching levels and despite the purpose-built indoor arenas promised by the Qatari bidding team, O’Leary is worried not only about the weather, but about the space of stadiums in and around Doha.
‘Personally, I was surprised. I’ve been to Doha many times and I love the place. But to have a World Cup with all the stadiums situated around Doha would be like having a World Cup in and around somewhere the size of Leeds’, O’Leary revealed.
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