Qatar said it can still host the 2022 World Cup in the Gulf summer despite FIFA’s push for a winter switch to avoid exposing players and fans to intense heat.
The middle Eastern country is perfecting cooling techniques to ensure stadiums, training facilities and public areas offer the “optimal temperature for players and fans to enjoy the games,” the Qatar 2022 Supreme Committee said today in an e-mailed statement.
FIFA, soccer’s global governing body, meets in Zurich Oct. 3 and 4 to discuss rescheduling the event because of concern that Qatar’s temperatures, as high as 50 degrees Celsius (122 degrees Fahrenheit) in June and July, when the World Cup is normally held, may endanger players and fans. President Sepp Blatter told Inside World Football in an interview published Sept. 9 that FIFA may have “made a mistake” in awarding a summer World Cup to such a hot country.
UEFA, European soccer’s ruling body, voted yesterday to back the winter move despite reservations from the continent’s top clubs and leagues. England’s Premier League said altering league schedules would be “nigh on impossible.”
Australia also opposes the move. Frank Lowy, chairman of Football Federation Australia, this week said FIFA should compensate any nations whose leagues are affected if the switch is ratified.
FIFA General Secretary Jerome Valcke told reporters in Buenos Aires on Sept. 10 that the governing body won’t pay compensation. Valcke said that any decision made at next month’s FIFA meeting would be “in principle” only, and that a consultation process will begin once that decision is made.
FIFA also faces opposition from Fox Sports, which agreed to pay a record $425 million for U.S. broadcast rights to the 2018 and 2022 World Cups.
Since Qatar, a Gulf emirate smaller than Connecticut, in 2010 became the surprise choice to host sport’s most-watched event, FIFA has faced questions about the selection. The governing body’s executive board chose Qatar ahead of offers from the U.S., Australia and Korea and Japan even though FIFA’s inspection team said the choice would be high risk.
Qatar’s organizing committee said it can move the tournament if asked, but remains focused on its summer plan.
“We bid for the 2022 FIFA World Cup in summer and are fully committed and working hard to deliver on these promises,” the statement said.