Qatar ready to host 2022 World Cup 'in summer or winter'
Summer heats could see tournament moved
The likelihood of the 2022 World Cup being moved to the winter has moved a step closer after Qatar said they were open to such a switch today.
Almost as soon as the decision to hand Qatar the tournament was made, it was mooted that the tournament could be moved in order to avoid the seering summer heats which can reach 45 degrees celcius. Such a change that would have huge repercussions for all of football.
In a statement today, local organisers said: "Concerning the timing of the 2022 FIFA World Cup, we have always reiterated that we bid on the parameters that we would host in the summer of 2022.
"Various figures from the world of football have raised preferences for hosting in the winter. We are ready to host the World Cup in summer or winter. Our planning isn't affected either way..."
Only yesterday, Fifa president Sepp Blatter claimed that if the tournament was to be moved, it would first have to be requested by Qatar. Today's statement suggests that the hosts would be open to such a request.
He told a news conference in Zurich: "We are not losing control on the World Cups 2014, 2018 or 2022.
"Considering the World Cup 2022 discussions have started at a time when the decision was taken and then people have realised that when playing in summer it will be very difficult because it is very hot.
"But the basic principles on the attribution of the World Cup and the list of requirements was very clear and has not been changed.
"FIFA's World Cup 2022 is a competition with 32 teams, 64 matches, and has to be played in June/July and this principle has never been put into question by the organisers. Therefore it still stands. The move must come from Qatar to the FIFA executive [to move it]."
A Fifa statement clarified the stance: "Fifa would like to remind as communicated previously that in fact the bidding agreement clearly stipulates that the final decision on the format and dates for both competitions (Fifa Confederations Cup 2021 and FIFA World Cup 2022) is vested with the Fifa Organising Committee which may hear recommendations from the LOC (local organising committee).
"Therefore, nothing has changed to what we have said previously.
"As it stands today, the 2022 Fifa World Cup is planned to be staged in Qatar in June/July 2022.
"Any potential change would have to be first requested by the competition organisers, ie. Qatar, and then presented to the Fifa Executive Committee for analysis."
Should the tournament be moved to the winter, it would mean European leagues being forced to alter the fixture lists, potentially over a few seasons to accommodate a two month break.
However, if the 2022 World Cup is staged in the summer as is currently planned, Qatar plan to use air conditioning technology which will lower the temperatures in the stadiums. After the tournament, some of the grounds will then be dismantled and re-erected in developing nations.
"Our commitment to this is grounded in the legacy it will offer for Qatar and countries with similar climates. It will enable sport to be played 12 months of the year," Qatar's organising committee added today.
"The application of this technology is not limited to stadiums or sports venues. It can be applied in public spaces, so outdoor life can be enjoyed all year round, regardless of climate."
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