Qatar were given the exclusive rights to host the 2022 FIFA summer world cup, but pressure has been mounting on FIFA to switch it to winter to save players and fans from intense heat in the tiny Gulf nation. A couple of months ago I pleaded with FIFA not to yield to pressure, that the energy-rich nation should be left alone to hold the world cup in peace (HERE). But it seems my pleas are falling into deaf ears as all fingers are pointing to a 2022 winter world cup.
Earlier in the week, FIFA’s medical chief Michel D’Hooghe urged organisers to make Qatar 2022 a winter World Cup for health and safety reasons. Speaking to Press Association Sport, he said: "My position is very clear. From the medical point of view I think it will be better not to play during the hot summer months."
"I am sure the Qataris could organise it when they have such technical skill, and I know they could play and train in a stable, acceptable temperature."
Also yesterday, European countries gave their overall backing to moving the one month festivities to the winter, Britain's FIFA vice-president confirmed. Boyce, speaking from Dubrovnik, told Press Association Sport: "What has come out of this meeting, and what I think is sensible, is an agreement by the UEFA countries that the World Cup cannot be played in Qatar in the summer. Everyone was certainly in agreement about that."
With FIFA President Sepp Blatter saying it was a mistake to plan a summer tournament in the desert state and his UEFA counterpart Michel Platini also rooting for a winter world cup, All roads now lead to Zurich on the 3rd and 4th of October as FIFA executive committee come together to agree in principle whether the world cup is moved or not.
But before the inevitable decision is made, Qatar has maintained and reiterated that despite the extreme heat, it could stage the World Cup in summer by building air-conditioned stadiums using newly environmentally-friendly technology.
"We bid for the 2022 FIFA World Cup in summer and are fully committed and working hard to deliver on these promises," the Qatar 2022 Supreme Committee said in a statement Today.
"If the international football community asks us to move the timetable for the 2022 FIFA World Cup in Qatar we are able to do so, but the development and implementation of environmentally-friendly cooling technologies remains an important legacy issue for our nation, region and many countries with similar climates."
"Creating comfortable conditions for public areas, walkways, training pitches and stadiums both during and after the World Cup means being able to play and watch football matches in summer throughout the country," the organising committee added.
"Cooling technology has existed at Jassim bin Hamad (Al Sadd) Stadium since 2008. This June the stadium (in Doha) hosted a FIFA World Cup qualifier in cool and comfortable conditions.
"We are now in the process of developing and perfecting sustainable cooling technologies ... to ensure that our Qatar 2022 FIFA World Cup stadia, training grounds and fan zones offer the optimal temperature for players and fans to enjoy the games."