Seoul,March 30 — A senior official for the 2022 Qatar World Cup again downplayed suggestions that the tournament should be moved from the fierce heat of summer for player and fan safety.
Hassan al-Thawadi, general secretary of the Qatar 2022 supreme committee, told the Associated Press on Friday “we always knew about it … we know there is an issue with the heat”.
“It’s not like, people said this as we were like ‘wow, we thought it was snowing in the summer’. But the point is that we are looking at solutions.”
The issue of whether the 2022 World Cup should be switched from summer to winter is one that refuses to go away and more than two years after Qatar was awarded the tournament in December 2010, it is now back on top of the global football agenda.
Earlier in March, UEFA president Michel Platini said it was too hot to play football in Qatar in the summer and called for a move to cooler months, a stance that was backed on Wednesday by UAE’s Yousuf al-Serkal, a vice-president of the Asian Football Confederation (AFC).
Al-Thawadi, who was also the CEO of the 2022 bid team, said that Qatar would only change if the wider world wished it.
“It is a debate within the football community and, at a certain point, somebody is going to have to make a decision. We have to take to into consideration the overall consensus of the football community. Today, we are moving ahead with a summer World Cup, plain and simple,” he said.
Qatari officials are nonplussed by Platini’s statement that the tournament be moved to winter as the Frenchman voted for Qatar ahead of its bid rivals the United States, Australia, South Korea and Japan, when the FIFA Executive Committee made its decision in December 2010 in Zurich.
“In the end, it’s his opinion,” said al-Thawadi. “He’s a major pillar in world football. His views have to be taken into consideration. The nature of his vote, you’ll have to ask him that but in terms of him asking for a winter World Cup, he wasn’t the first person to mention it.
“We always said that our bid was a summer World Cup, our cooling technologies are moving ahead, they are not limited to stadiums and that’s important for people to understand. Fans will be able to enjoy a great atmosphere in the outdoors through the development of these technologies.”
As well as Europe’s football chief, Sepp Blatter, the president of world body FIFA recently weighed in on the issue. In a recent interview, Blatter said that any move to switch must be initiated from the Qataris. He also said that such a request could result in a revote. Also in March, FIFA Secretary General Jerome Valcke suggested medical advice could be cited to justify a move to winter.
Al-Thawadi denied that such manoeuvring could put Qatar in a difficult position.
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