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Sepp Blatter says his first task is to convince the Fifa executive committee. Frabrice Coffrini / AFP
Sepp Blatter says his first task is to convince the Fifa executive committee. Frabrice Coffrini / AFP

Blatter to push for winter switch at Fifa World Cup 2022 in Qatar

President of football's governing body will convince executive committee before persuading leagues to allow for tournament to be moved from heat of summer.

BERLIN // Sepp Blatter, the Fifa president, will push for the 2022 World Cup in Qatar to be moved to the winter after getting a personal taste of the Middle East's blast furnace climate.

There has been widespread concern over the health dangers posed by staging the tournament in the Gulf in June and July where temperatures rocket to 50C.

Blatter insisted on Wednesday that he will push to have the World Cup moved despite the effects it could have on domestic leagues when the Fifa executive committee meets in October.

"The executive committee will certainly follow me," Blatter was quoted by AFP subsidiary, SID, as telling a two-day sports conference in Austria.

Blatter said that a recent visit to Jordan and the Palestinian Territories had brought home the dangers of the intense heat.

He expressed his fears despite the Qataris' ambitious plans to build air-conditioned arenas.

"It is clear that you cannot play in this heat in the summer and we have to consider the players," he said.

"It is certainly possible to cool a stadium, but not an entire country. That's why we need to have courage in the executive committee and to create awareness among the leagues that we need to change something."

Qatar plans to spend around US$101 billion (Dh371bn) on infrastructure projects, including building new high-tech stadiums, which the Qatar 2022 Supreme Committee said would likely cost $4-5bn.

Average temperatures in Qatar are markedly cooler in December, with highs of 24C and lows of 15C.

In June this year, Gianni Infantino, the Uefa general secretary, added his weight to calls for the 2022 World Cup to be staged later in the year.

"I fully share the view that you have to play in the best period for football; that is not June or July in Qatar. This is an issue that FIFA has to sort out," he said.

"The sooner they do it, the better. The decision for 2022 was taken in 2010, so in 12 years you can organise yourself."

Qatar has already said it was ready to host the World Cup in summer or in winter.

"Various figures from the world of football have raised preferences for hosting in the winter," the Qatar 2022 Supreme Committee said in a statement earlier this year.

"We are ready to host the World Cup in summer or winter. Our planning isn't affected either way."

The committee said it planned to provide air-conditioning in stadiums, training area and public zones, and would do so with renewable energy.

"We will forge ahead with implementing and developing this technology. Our commitment to this is grounded in the legacy it will offer for Qatar and countries with similar climates."

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