Sepp Blatter expects Qatar World Cup to be held in winter
Fifa president says the tournament is now likely to be held in "January or the end of the year"
Fifa president Sepp Blatter expects the 2022 World Cup in Qatar to be switched to winter to avoid the Middle Eastern state’s extreme summer temperatures.
The decision to award Qatar the right to host the tournament came under fire last month with critics arguing that searing temperatures of up to 45C would make staging the competition in the summer dangerous for players and travelling fans.
Despite the Qatar bid’s vow to combat the heat with air-conditioned stadiums and fan parks, many football chief have called for the tournament in 11 years’ time to be switched to winter.
And Blatter said this week: “I expect it [the 2022 World Cup] will be held in winter. It is 11 years away but we must decide the most adequate period, which means January or the end of the year.
“Although we have the basic conditions of their bid for a June and July World Cup, the Fifa executive committee is entitled to change anything that was in the bid. When you play football you have to protect the main people – the players.”
Meanwhile, a number of football managers have voiced their concerns over holding the tournament in the winter. Arsenal boss Arsene Wenger said doing so “would create problems between clubs and countries and countries and Fifa” and that it “would mean completely reorganising the whole world’s fixtures”.
And former England manager Graham Taylor said he was surprised the issue of heat was not raised before the final vote in December. He said: “If people weren’t aware of that prior to the vote then I don’t really know what is happening.
“He’s now saying it’s going to be too hot in the summer. I mean everyone’s been aware of that for goodness knows how long. So I really am at a loss for him coming in now and saying there’s a possibility of it being played in the winter.”