UEFA president Michel Platini has called on Qatar’s 2022 FIFA World Cup organisers to share the load of hosting the tournament with neighbouring countries, adding that the tournament must be held in the winter to avoid complications created by the searing desert heat.
Platini, who is widely considered to be Sepp Blatter’s heir apparent as FIFA president, has openly admitted he voted for both Qatar and Russia to host the 2022 and 2018 editions of the World Cup. With summer temperatures topping 45 degrees Celsius, concerns have been voiced at how Qatar will stage the World Cup ever since the tournament was awarded to the country in December 2010. Platini has been a consistent advocate of a winter World Cup, but such a switch would face the considerable obstacle of arranging the tournament around the European club football calendar. The UEFA chief has previously stated that the length of time remaining until the 2022 tournament would allow football stakeholders to reach an agreement on how best to accommodate a winter World Cup, but has now appeared to question the ability of such a small country to host one of world sport’s showpiece events. “I am in favour of Qatar under two conditions,” Platini told German newspaper Bild. “Because of the heat the World Cup will need to be held in the winter. With over 40 degrees (Celsius) playing football is impossible and for the fans it would also be unbearable. Also, the neighbouring emirates must be included so that the World Cup is staged throughout the entire region.”
The huge infrastructure demands presented by hosting a World Cup was one of the main question marks raised when Qatar was awarded the tournament. Saudi Arabia shares a border with Qatar, while the likes of the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain, Oman and Kuwait are all close to the country. Qatar 2022 officials have repeatedly stated they would obey a direct FIFA order to host the World Cup during the more clement winter months. Speaking following Saturday’s meeting of the International Football Association Board (IFAB) in Edinburgh, Scotland, FIFA secretary general Jerome Valcke said Qatar 2022 could be rescheduled from summer to winter if medical evidence demonstrated the original hosting plan could harm the health of players.
Valcke stated that there are no plans for a winter World Cup at present, maintaining that a change would have to be instigated by Qatar 2022 itself. Valcke said at a media briefing: “The FIFA Executive Committee has the power to make decisions and if…this issue starts to be a real point for discussion then why not, and then again maybe the Committee will say based on medical reports, or whatever, we really have to look at playing the World Cup not in summer but in winter. I am not saying the case is closed. As long as we have not fixed the international calendar all alternatives are open. I think it would be good to have a final decision about when this World Cup will be played and have an agreement between all the football family but it’s in 2022, nine years and we have two World Cups to organise in Brazil and Russia so there is some time.”