Qatar is prepared to stage the 2022 World Cup in the summer or in the winter and will abide by whatever decision world governing body FIFA takes on the matter according to a senior official in Doha.
“From the beginning, we’ve always said we can stage the World Cup in summer,” said Hassan Al-Thawadi, Secretary General of the Qatar 2022 Organising Committee.
“The cooling system for the stadia will be very much part of our legacy. But if the football world or FIFA want it to be staged in the winter then we are happy and ready. If they want it in summer, then we are still ready.”
The awarding of the 2022 World Cup to Qatar has been met with a volley of criticism especially over the searing heat that bakes the Gulf emirate in the summer when the tournament is traditionally held.
Some have suggested that it should be switched to the winter time to protect players and fans alike, but this has run into opposition from European clubs, who would lose their top players for several weeks in the middle of the season and from the International Olympic Committee fearful of any competition with the Sochi Winter Olympics in February.
Speaking on the sidelines of the Doha Goals sports summit being held in Doha, Al-Thawadi rejected any suggestions that Qatar was not fit to host the World Cup.
“We have always complied with FIFA regulations and these allegations have absolutely no basis,” he added.
“Our bid team had to build credibility, showcase Qatar and deliver the messages. We worked very hard and were at every major event in the build-up to winning the right to host the tournament.
“Why did we win it? Without wanting to sound arrogant, it was because we had the best bid in terms of messages.
“We offered a compact World Cup with no long distance travel involved; we offered the perfect geographic location that allows three billion prime time TV viewers; and we offered a concept of modular stadia.”
“There are so many misconceptions about the Middle East and the World Cup in 2022 will go a long way to showing the world the friendliness, hospitality and sense of humour of the Middle East. It is a great opportunity for us all to come together.”