An Exclusive Interview with Mr. Ahmed Khellil Abbassi, Executive Director of Competitions and Football Development at Qatar Stars League


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·        A new strategy to develop the league championship
·        Assessing the number of clubs participating in the league championship
·        New season calendar
·        Excluding National Team players from next April onwards from all domestic and continental club competitions

Mr. Ahmed Khellil Abbassi, Executive Director of Competitions and Football Development at the Qatar Stars League (QSL), gives his takes on the season that went by (2020-21), preparations which are in place in full swing ahead of the new season (2021-22) and QNB Stars League, among a wide range of topics:

What’s your assessment of the last season (2020-21)?

Overall, I think last season went off fairly well despite the challenges we faced, the most important of which was dealing with the coronavirus (Covid-19) pandemic.

There were also a number of matters, including:

1- The lack of a technical balance between the clubs, as there is a clear gap that appeared during the competitions.

For example:

A- The difference in goals scored during the matches: (8.57 goals for the first-placed team compared to only one goal scored by the last team).

B- The gap in the number of points: (the first-placed team achieved six times the points obtained by the last team).

C- 22% of the matches ended with a difference of more than two goals.

2- There is a defect in the process of selecting appropriate foreign players and coaches to succeed in our league, as it was noted that the contracting process is carried out with an unrealistic financial value and a doubling of the actual value according to the market value of the player or coach, as well as the absence of a clear professional technical strategy and mechanism to discover the appropriate players and coaches for our tournaments.

For example: In the last three seasons, 150 foreign professional players and 35 coaches were engaged, which is a very large number.

How about the next season (2021-22)?

The next season will start in September, 2021, and there’ll be many interruptions due to the National Team’s overseas commitments, and the calendar for the next season will be announced soon after the teams’ engagements are completed.

In general, club training will start on July 1, 2021, in line with the preparations for the new season and, here, it may be noted that clubs have the right to organize overseas camps, provided that precautionary measures and restrictions forced by the coronavirus (Covid-19) pandemic are followed.

As for the end of the league and Amir Cup for the next season (2021-22), it will be in the beginning of April, 2022, and after that date, the National Team players will be released from all local or foreign commitments with their clubs in order to make them focus fully on the special project for the 2022 FIFA World Cup.

How about the stadiums next season?
Regarding the stadiums used for the next season, we’re currently working with various authorities concerned to determine them, as it may be noted that we’ll face a great challenge in that because of hosting the FIFA Arab Cup.

Is there a specific strategy to develop the league championship?

Yes, as we were entrusted with assessing the current situation and developing a strategy for the league championship, with the aim of enhancing the level of competition between the competing teams and providing entertaining high-quality football, as mentioned by Qatar Football Association (QFA) President His Excellency Sheikh Hamad bin Khalifa bin Ahmed Al Thani during its General Assembly meeting, which have been working on since the beginning of last season. Thankfully, the assessment was completed and recommendations have been submitted for the final approval.

What’re the main points of this strategy?

At the outset, it must be emphasized that our main goal is to enhance the technical and professional levels of Qatar football, the domestic championships and league championship, and to increase the level of competitiveness between the teams. For this purpose, this strategy has been developed, the most prominent of it being:

- Studying the right number of clubs participating in the league championship with the aim of raising the competitive level and providing high-quality football, as a recommendation was made for the appropriate number to achieve this.

- Establishing a mechanism and system for identifying and selecting outstanding players and coaches, evaluating their performance in a scientific and thoughtful manner, as well as developing a new mechanism for the contracts of coaches and players so that the financial value for them is commensurate with their technical levels and actual value.

- Establishing a working mechanism to expand the base of professionalism by getting Second Division clubs to Qatar Stars League, with the aim of developing them professionally and technically, to raise the level of Second Division championship by engaging them with first-class clubs until the completion of the legal, administrative and organizational procedures that we’re currently working on with all parties.

- Developing the Club Participation Agreement in QSL tournaments in line with the professional development plan that we’re currently working on, which mainly aims to raise the level of competition, and provide enjoyable and high-quality football.

Finally…?

We would like to thank everyone who enabled us to finish off last season in a proper manner, as well as to everyone who worked in developing the strategic plan in the process of developing our championships, led by QFA, club companies, coaches, players… We’re also keen on continuing our work collectively aligning with our continuous endeavour to develop Qatar football.