Following remarks from FIFA’s president that indicated requesting a winter World Cup could cost Qatar its hosting rights, the country has sought to reassure the football community that it has no intention of making such a change.
“Our bid was based on the sole intent of hosting the 2022 FIFA World Cup in the summer,” the Supreme 2022 Supreme Committee said in a statement to media on Friday.
And in that vein, Qatar reaffirmed its commitment to developing technology and “offering solutions that keep fans and players cool and comfortable.” It continued:
“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. 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.”
But the committee also reiterated that it was willing to make a change, if the international community wanted it:
“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, as we are committed to the cooling technologies for legacy reasons, as outlined above.”
Concerns about Qatar’s summer heat, during which temperatures can reach some 50C (122F), have been the subject of much discussion in the football community lately.
Earlier this month, both Union of European Football Associations (UEFA) president Michel Platini and FIFA Secretary General Jerome Valecke raised the possibility of changing the schedule so that players could avoid training and competing in Qatar’s infamously hot summers.
Last week, FIFA’s medical chief Michel D’Hooghe, voiced support for a shift of the games to winter. Premier League chairman Sir David Richards, who was in Doha this week for the ICSS Securing Sports Conference, also appeared to agree.
But many others oppose the shift to winter due to the logistical problems it would pose in terms of scheduling and viewership of the games.
Here’s the committee’s full statement:
Credit: Rendering courtesy of the Qatar 2022 World Cup on Facebook