Calls grow for 2022 World Cup in Qatar to be staged in winter

 

The 2022 World Cup should be played in the winter, one of the men who helped Qatar win the bid to host it admitted today.

The Qatar 2022 Supreme Committee insisted this afternoon they would not ask FIFA to move the tournament from the summer due to the extreme temperatures in the country.

But former Holland star Ronald de Boer, who became an official ambassador for Qatar's bid after ending his playing career there, then effectively broke ranks.

Qatar 2022 communications and marketing director Nasser Al-Khater had just finished defending the country's cooling technology plans at the Leaders in Football conference at Stamford Bridge when De Boer interjected.

He said: "We see, of course, the busy schedules of the players always when the Champions League is done then some great players have only two weeks' preparation for the World Cup - the biggest event in the world.

"We want always the best players in the best possible way. We want to see them in the best form.

"Sometimes, a change is good and let's see what it does to the world of football.

"Maybe it's great to have it in the winter, have everybody fit - mentally fit, physically fit.

"I don't see a problem with that because, for example, the African (Nations) Cup, when that's going on, if we have an African player, he has to go.

"Not every league is synchronised with the European leagues.

"In Russia, they stop earlier, in Scandinavia they stop earlier. In the States, they have a different schedule.

"I don't see, really, difficulties. I think it's also beneficial for the tournament itself if it's in the winter.

"I played there. You can play, especially with the technology, it's amazing what's going to happen.

"Especially for the fans - because football is for the fans - it would be great if it's in the winter."

UEFA president Michel Platini has become the driving force behind the idea of a winter World Cup but FIFA counterpart Sepp Blatter insisted the date of the tournament would not be moved unless Qatar made a formal request.

Al-Khater was adamant it was up to the game's governing body to act. He said: "We're a host and, at the end of the day, the questions you're asking should be asked to the people who govern world football.

"When we bid, we set up to bid in the summer.

"For us, cooling technology will take place one way or the other.

"So, if the international football community decides that this will be switched, we're not going to stop with building our cooling systems.

"This is part of the legacy of the country."

However, he added: "You're always better able to plan if a decision's made earlier."

PA

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