Qatar chief hints at winter World Cup switch

The secretary general of the 2022 organizing committee has admitted the finals could be moved from the summer due to concerns over the heat
RIO DE JANEIRO -- Qatar's World Cup chief has said the Gulf state will consider calls to host the 2022 finals during the winter.

Last week, UEFA secretary general Gianni Infantino joined the calls for the tournament to be held in the winter amid fears over the scorching temperatures close to 120 degrees in the Qatari summer.

Hassan Al Thawadi, secretary general of the Qatar 2022 supreme committee for the World Cup, insists that the nation is planning for a June tournament in nine years, but admits it is prepared to alter the schedule.

“There are significant voices in the football community who are saying winter would be perfect,” said Al Thawadi at the FT/IFA Business of Football Summit in Rio de Janeiro.

“We are willing to have that debate to decide which is the best time.

“It’s the World Cup, it’s not Qatar’s cup. If we don’t sit down and listen to what the world wants, we would be doing an injustice to the World Cup.

“The way I see it, a number of people have spoken about their preference for it to move. It would have to be discussed with the football community.”

While Al Thawadi is open to a winter World Cup, which would face considerable opposition from European clubs, he remains adamant that Qatar can host a summer tournament.

Concerns have been raised over player safety while Qatar’s proposed air conditioning system inside the stadiums has yet to be fully tested.

But Al Thawadi said: “When we bid for the World Cup our intention was always for it to be in June. The weather is not very bad in Doha in June, it’s not so bad.  

“I’ve had many people come to Qatar during June and it wasn’t the horror story people expected, that they would burst in flames. It’s not armageddon.”

Follow GOAL.COM on