BERLIN: Fifa President Sepp Blatter will push for the 2022 World Cup in Qatar to be moved to the winter after getting a personal taste of the
Middle East’s blast furnace climate.
There has been widespread concern over the health dangers posed by staging the tournament in the Gulf in June and July where temperatures rocket to 50 degrees.
Blatter insisted that he will push to have the World Cup moved despite the effects it could have on domestic leagues when the Fifa Executive Committee meets in October.
“The Executive Committee will certainly follow me,” Blatter was quoted by AFP subsidiary, SID, as telling a two-day sports conference in Austria.
Blatter said that a recent visit to Jordan and the Palestinian Territories had brought home the dangers of the intense heat.
He expressed his fears despite the Qataris’ ambitious plans to build air-conditioned arenas.
“It is clear that you cannot play in this heat in the summer and we have to consider the players,” he said.
“It is certainly possible to cool a stadium, but not an entire country. That’s why we need to have courage in the Executive Committee and to create awareness among the leagues that we need to change something.”
Qatar plans to spend around £65 billion on infrastructure projects, including building new high-tech stadiums, which the Qatar 2022 Supreme Committee said would likely cost $4-5 billion.
Average temperatures in Qatar are markedly cooler in December, with highs of 24C and lows of 15C.
In June this year, Uefa General Secretary Gianni Infantino added his weight to calls for the 2022 World Cup to be staged later in the year.
“I fully share the view that you have to play in the best period for football; that is not June or July in Qatar. This is an issue that Fifa has to sort out,” he said.
“The sooner they do it, the better. The decision for 2022 was taken in 2010, so in 12 years you can organise yourself.”
Qatar has already said it was ready to host the World Cup in summer or in winter.
“Various figures from the world of football have raised preferences for hosting in the winter,” the Qatar 2022 Supreme Committee said in a statement earlier this year.
“We are ready to host the World Cup in summer or winter. Our planning isn’t affected either way.”
The committee said it planned to provide air-conditioning in stadiums, training areas and public zones, and would do so with renewable energy.
Published in The Express Tribune, July 19th, 2013.
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