In its bid to host the 2022 World Cup, Qatar will show the world soccer body, FIFA, a prototype of a solar-powered stadium cooling system that will regulate the temperature at the venues, in September this year.
A high-profile FIFA team is expected here in September, three months before the 2022 World Cup host is chosen in December.
Associated Press (AP), reporting from Johannesburg, one of the venues of the 2010 World Cup games, yesterday quoted Qatar’s bid leader, Hassan Al Thawadi, as saying that football officials from around the world are asking him how their national teams can play in Qatar’s hot weather.
If Qatar wins the bid the matches will be played between June 3 and July 3, when temperatures are high.
AP said it has been 35 degrees Celsius at 9.30pm in Qatar, the time when late matches, including the final, would kick off.
Meanwhile, Canadian Press (CP) said from Johannesburg that Qatar’s bid to host the 2022 World Cup is provoking a heated debate in South Africa. “Ultimately, everybody asks about the weather — ‘What is your solution towards the weather?’” bid Chief Executive Al Thawadi told CP.
Daytime temperatures this week hit 43 degrees Celsius in Qatar.
Al Thawadi has heard expressions of concern, especially from European and South American officials who want to know what kind of World Cup their national team might face in 2022.
“Previously it was curiosity or it was more of an astonishment,” Al Thawadi said. “Now I believe people are genuinely interested.”
Qatar proposes to combat the searing heat by a system of solar-powered, air-cooled stadiums with roofs designed to shelter the fans and players.
A scaled-down prototype is being built around a five-a-side field in Doha to showcase the technology, and will be unveiled in September before a FIFA team coming here for an official inspection.
“Every component of that prototype is in existence,” Al Thawadi said, “but it’s never been put in the sequence that it’s being put together in to create the result that we are looking for.”
Qatar proposes playing World Cup matches in 12 stadiums equipped with the technology. Development plans for five are under way.
The bid panel claims the temperature at the venues would be kept at 27 degrees Celsius — below the 30-degree mark at which FIFA’s medical committee says players become fatigued after 51 minutes of play.
Training camps for each of the 32 competing teams will also need to be cooled, as will the several so-called fan zones — the public viewing sites where fans without match tickets gather to watch the action on giant screens.
Al Thawadi said a design to cool these venues has not yet been devised. “Technology evolves. You have got 12 years from now,” he said.
“The cooling technology will be adapted in such a way to allow for the place to be cooled in an open-air space without the stands being there.” Teams would practice on grass fields in school grounds and residential compounds, which would later be gifted to the community as part of the World Cup legacy.
Qatar’s intended gift to the world is the cooling technology. It also would donate parts of some dismantled stadiums to developing nations because a country of 1.4 million people has little need of so many 40,000 capacity stadiums.
Al Thawadi is sensitive to Qatar’s reputation as the money-no-object World Cup bid among the nine candidates in the combined 2018-2022 contests.
“Throwing money willy-nilly has never been our intention,” he said. “We are blessed with a great economy. It shouldn’t be seen as a negative point.”
Instead, Al Thawadi believes finances are a big reason why FIFA’s ruling executive should award the 2022 World Cup to Asia. The region also has Australia, and 2002 co-hosts Japan and South Korea going against the United States in a December 2 vote.
“Asia has a new, vibrant economy and it would be a big mistake to miss that out,” the Qatar bid leader said. “Has football and FIFA developed that commercial aspect to its significant potential? No.”, the Canadian Press reported.
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