Posted on May 17, 2013

Hosting the 2022 World Cup in Qatar’s searing summer heat would not be "rational and reasonable", FIFA president Sepp Blatter has said. Blatter first indicated in March that he would support moving the event to winter but said it could not happen unless Qatar requested it, which was unlikely given that they would then risk other countries appealing the decision to award them hosting rights.

Sepp Blatter

Speaking to French newspaper L’Equipe, Blatter said despite the FIFA executive committee being aware of the health implications before the 2010 vote, concerns remained over the decision. "The problem is knowing whether it can be played in June-July in Qatar," he said.

Qatar has promised to build state-of-the-art air-conditioned stadiums to beat the 50-degree celsius heat but the cooling technology only resolves the problem in venues and not other associated activities. "The World Cup is more than just stadiums, it's an array of social and cultural activities around the competition," Blatter said.

"What do we do? It's not rational and reasonable to play in June-July. "Our technical report, which was available to all the members of the executive committee before the 2010 vote, exposed these difficulties."

Blatter has not revealed who he voted for and claims some voters were influenced by the pressure to take the World Cup to the Middle East for the first time. "There were interventions at different levels so that it would go to an Arab country," Blatter said. "Geopolitics did its work."

FIFA’s ethics committee is investigating the voting process for the 2018 and 2022 cups. There is a growing chorus of top level football names calling for the Qatar tournament to be switched to winter, including Premier League chairman Sir David Richards, UEFA president Michel Platini and German football legend Franz Beckenbauer.

Moving the tournament would be met with fierce resistance from European leagues who fear the impact on their broadcasting and commercial deals and clubs would be reluctant to release players. Countries that lost out to Qatar, including the US and Australia, could also look to challenge the move in court.

by Courtney Trenwith

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