A senior Fifa figure has questioned Qatar's claim that air conditioning can deal with their searing summer heat problem and allow the 2022 World Cup to take place in the Middle Eastern country.
Qatar have emerged as strong contenders for the tournament despite having to face issues surrounding the heat, which averages more than 40C in June and July and last summer topped 50C, and the small size of the country and population.
The Qatar bid team have said that air conditioning the stadiums can reduce the temperatures to the low thirties, but Chuck Blazer of the US, a member of the Fifa executive committee which will vote on the 2018 and 2022 hosts on 2 December, does not believe this is enough. Blazer told the Wall Street Journal: "You can air-condition a stadium, but I don't see how you can air-condition an entire country."
The US are bidding against Qatar along with Australia and outsiders South Korea and Japan. The publication by Fifa today of the bid inspectors' evaluation reports is expected to raise further questions about the World Cup being staged in Qatar. As well as the heat, the size of the country is an issue – it is half the size of Wales with a population of fewer than one million, half of whom live in the country's only city of note, Doha.
A special meeting of the Fifa executive committee has been called on Friday in Zurich to discuss the evaluation reports and the outcome of the Fifa ethics committee hearing.
Some Fifa insiders believe there may be a move to bar Qatar from the bid process on technical grounds if the evaluation report raises too many high-risk problems.