By Anthony Harwood
Former Millwall player Tim Cahill has hit back at ex-West Ham midfielder Robbie Slater for calling his new job promoting the World Cup in Qatar a ‘load of crap’.
The two Australian sportsmen clashed over Cahill’s appointment as a FIFA ambassador which came ten years after their country lost out in the vote to host the 2022 tournament.
Slater, who spent a season at Upton Park in1995-96, also hit out at Qatar’s decision to host the tournament in winter to escape the searing summer temperatures, causing disruption to the European leagues.
Slater said: “It’s going to be played at a time that it’s never been played before.
Following the vote Qatar was accused of bribing officials to win the vote, but a FIFA investigation cleared it of any wrongdoing.
Talking about the decision by Cahill – Australia’s all-time leading goalscorer – to work for Qatar, Slater added: ‘Look, I think this is a poor choice, I’m sorry. We all love Timmy, of course, he’s our greatest Socceroo – that’s undoubtedly his title. It all sounds like a load of crap to me.”
But Cahill, who made 217 appearances for Millwall between 1998 and 2004, defended his decision, saying: ‘I’m 40 years old now. I’ve got a lot of experience in understanding people’s thoughts and understanding you make decisions that are right for you, and you and your future.”
He said his job gave him influence over big decisions – such as Qatar’s plan to dismantle stadiums after the tournament is finished and re-build them in poorer countries, as well as improving workers’ rights.
Cahill, pictured above, said: “I have a massive influence now working with FIFA and Qatar.
“Stadiums getting built, we get to help with the production of that. We get to help make sure the sustainability programmes afterwards of the products they put in there, we get to make sure we can help advise where the containers lift from the stadiums, whether they go to Africa, Asia or somewhere else in the world.
“We get to work on programmes like the ‘workers’ welfare’, 30,000 workers – how they live, the certificates, things that they need, their pay.”
He said he was not troubled by the backlash from his fellow Australians, adding: “I think it’s fair whatever perception they have of me.
“It’s not about being worried, but them understanding my role and understanding their feelings of how much was spent for Australia, the process we went for that I was there for.
“I’m one of four global ambassadors. We’re also making a really good change for education programmes.
“I’m happy to answer the hard questions and be in the front line of an influential competition in the world where people look at me now as a voice globally for one of the biggest sports on earth.”
Cahill scored 50 times during 108 caps for Australia, playing in four World Cups between 2006 and 2018.
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