LONDON (Reuters) – FIFA president Sepp Blatter has said that the 2022 World Cup in Qatar will be played in the summer as originally planned and discarded the idea of co-hosting the event with neighboring countries. Blatter, reiterating comments made by FIFA two weeks ago, said there were no plans to stage a winter World Cup and any request to do so would have to come from the Qatari hosts who have already said they plan to stage the event in summer.
“Everything is settled now for summer and with all 64 matches in the territory of Qatar,” he told the BBC in an interview.
Blatter had placed himself figuratively on the hot seat two weeks ago when he suggested that it would be too hot in Qatar during the Northern Hemisphere’s summer months to play the 2022 World Cup.
Mohamed Bin Hammam, the president of the Asian confederation, told reporters that he was a bit irritated by all the talk, especially because there is a long way to go, with Brazil 2014 and Russia 2018 still to come. He said the tournament should not be moved from the summer to the winter, because of the potential disruption it could cause across the globe. June and July is when Qatar plans to hold the tournament. Qatar also plans to build domed, air-conditioned stadiums, including one with 86,250 seats for the first and for the final.
The event is a long way off – who knows what the world will look like in ten years. But at first impression, from a purely sporting point of view, staging the ultimate month long tournament with a global audience in the blistering heat and humidity of the Qatari summer is certain to diminish performance. It is not just about what happens on game day, but also the assimilation, training sessions, the days of rest, the fans’ movement, the pre-match and post-match atmosphere, everything will be coordinated around finding refuge from the heat. For a successful World Cup, it makes enormous sense to move the tournament to January. Fans and players will benefit from the milder climate and will be able to deliver a truly interesting World Cup. All of the leagues around the world will need to accommodate a winter World Cup, as will the 2022 winter Olympics, but ultimately this seems to be the most sensible solution. Qatar in July will be unbearable, no matter how many air conditioned bubbles the Sheik builds.