January 7, 2011

Sepp Blatter addresses a media conference in the Qatari capital of Doha.
Sepp Blatter addresses a media conference in the Qatari capital of Doha.

    (CNN) — FIFA president Sepp Blatter expects the 2022 World Cup in Qatar to be held in the winter to avoid the searing heat in the region in the summer.

    Qatar won the right to host football’s global showpiece last month despite temperatures in the Gulf emirate reaching 40 degrees Celsius in June and July when the tournament is traditionally staged.
    Blatter went on record Friday to say that a switch to winter would make more sense, citing health concerns for players.

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    «I expect it to be in the winter because when you play football you must protect the main people, the players,» he told gathered reporters in the Qatari capital Doha ahead of the Asian Cup, which starts later Friday.

    «We will take it up at our executive committee meeting in March,» he added.
    German legend Franz Beckenbauer, a FIFA executive committee member, first raised the prospect of a winter World Cup in January and Michel Platini, the president of UEFA, the European governing body, is also believed to support the idea.

    But it would have serious implications for the major domestic leagues in Europe which would be in full swing during this period.

    Qatar’s bid promised to provide air-conditioned stadiums and training grounds to combat the intense heat, but doubts have been raised this would fully address the issue, particularly for supporters.

    Blatter said Qatar organizers would have to approach FIFA about any change of dates.

    «If they have any wishes on whether they want to change the basic conditions prevailing at the bidding process, then they have to make this demand of the FIFA Executive Committee,» he said.

    «The Executive Committee is free to change anything,» he added.

    «If there really is a will to change dates then we have enough time to do it because we still have 11 years to go.»

    Blatter has defended the decisions to award the 2018 and 2022 World Cups to Russia and Qatar, saying football had to break into new territories.

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