Qatar 2022 World Cup mixes up legal team as it envisions winter game

The organisational body of the 2022 World Cup in Qatar has reshuffled its legal team, replacing general counsel Andrew Longmate with deputy Tariq Al-Abdulla.

The shake-up will see Longmate, a former London partner of Latham & Watkins, become counsel to Qatar 2022 general secretary Hassan Al-Thawadi.

Sources have kept quiet on whether the shake-up had been planned for a while, with most partners in the region unaware the shift was happening. However the committee’s legal adviser Clifford Chance is understood to have been updated on all the changes.

The magic circle firm remains Qatar 2022’s legal adviser after being appointed to advise on the committee’s technical programme in March, almost two years after opening an office in the emirate (13 March 2013). 

Longmate said at the time that Clifford Chance’s appointment was “the first of a number of major legal advisory mandates that will be tendered over the coming months”.

Another figure involved with the committee’s advisory team has been Romi Nayef, a former partner at SNR Denton’s Doha base (11 September 2012). Nayef was seconded to the bid committee as head of legal during the successful tender process. Qatar was advised externally on the bid by an SNR Denton team led by Middle East managing partner Leigh Hall, who has since left the firm (19 June 2012).

Qatar was awarded the World Cup contract in December 2010 and plans to build nine new stadia and renovate a further three, according to a previous evaluation of bids published by Fifa, football’s global governing body.

A recent report by Standard Chartered estimated the country’s spend on related infrastructure at $115bn (£76bn) between now and 2022. 

The tournament has been in the headlines this week after a FIFA chief hinted that the World Cup, usually held in the summer, would take place in the winter due to fears of the summer heat. 

A spokesperson for Qatar 2022 declined to comment further.