Organizers of the 2022 soccer World Cup in Qatar said today they’re committed to creating air- cooling technology essential to stage the event during the desert state’s hot summer months.
Qatari officials released a statement after recent comments from senior soccer officials that the 32-team event would have to be switched from the agreed dates in June and July to earlier in the year to avoid playing in temperatures that can reach 50 degrees Celsius (122 degrees Fahrenheit).
“We have always reiterated that we bid on the parameters that we would host in the summer of 2022,” the organizing committee said in a statement. “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.”
Qatar beat out the U.S., Japan and Australia three years ago for the rights to sports’ most-watched event in a vote by executives of soccer governing body FIFA. The organization changed how it selects hosts a year later after allegations of vote buying and collusion between bidders. Russia was selected to host the 2018 tournament.
England’s Premier League, soccer’s richest competition, this week said it would oppose moving the tournament forward because of the effects it would have on the European season calendar. Nations bid for the 2022 World Cup on the basis it would be played in June and July.
“We are committed to delivering on the promises we made to FIFA and the international football community through staging a successful FIFA World Cup in 2022 -- not only on the pitch, but also off the pitch -- on social, human and cultural levels,” Qatar’s statement read.
FIFA President Sepp Blatter yesterday said at a press conference the organization was not losing control of its marquee tournament, and the source of the majority of its $1.2 billion annual income. Blatter was asked about the competition following public comments from FIFA executive board members, including European soccer head Michel Platini and Michel D’Hooge, chief of FIFA’s medical committee, that the tournament should be played in cooler months.
“Suddenly people have realized when playing in the summer it will be very difficult because it is very hot,” Blatter said.
Platini voted for Qatar even though he knew about the risk posed by the summer temperatures. Since casting his ballot for the small gas-rich emirate, Platini has said he did so in the hope it would be moved to winter and shared with neighboring states.
Blatter said any request to move the tournament must first come from Qatar, and then will be studied by the executive committee. Blatter is poised to end his presidency in 2015, and has spoken of Platini being among the candidates to replace him should he not stand for a fifth term.
During its successful bid, Qatar, which is smaller in size than Connecticut, said it would install carbon neutral air- cooling technology to ensure matches are played at optimal temperatures. It said the creation of the new cooling system would benefit countries around the world.
“We will forge ahead with implementing and developing this technology,” today’s statement read. “Our commitment to this is grounded in the legacy it will offer for Qatar and countries with similar climates. 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.”
FIFA general secretary Jerome Valcke said earlier this month the 2022 World Cup could be moved to the winter if research shows holding the tournament in the summer heat would be dangerous for players. FIFA’s own technical committee reported concerns about the temperature ahead of the final vote in Zurich in December 2010.
That didn’t stop FIFA’s executive committee from choosing the tournament’s first Middle East host as Qatar received 14 out of 22 votes in a run off with the U.S.
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