Fifa Consider Winter Finals
Sunday, 19th December 2010 at 05:40am
High ranking members of football's governing body, Fifa, have mooted the possibility of the 2022 Fifa World Cup in Qatar being played in winter to avoid exposing players, fans and officials to the soaring temperatures that the tiny gulf state experiences.
Daytime temperatures regularly reach up to and in excess of 50 degrees Celsius and average somewhere in the 40s. This has caused some members of the Fifa Executive Committee - the same group of men who awarded the finals to Qatar - to reveal concerns about players.
Both Franz Beckenbauer and Michel Platini - former footballers and the two men most likely to have players' interests close at heart - first suggested that a move might be a possibility, something that has subsequently been supported by Fifa General Secretary Jerome Valcke.
"Why not [stage it in winter]? It means you open the World Cup to countries where they can never play it in June and July because it's never the right period of time," he said on December 16.
The idea was then given further backing by Fifa President Sepp Blatter speaking in Abu Dhabi during the Fifa World Club Championship.
"I definitely support the idea to play in winter here [in the Middle East], when the climate is appropriate. I'm thinking not only about the fans but the actors, the footballers. They provide the spectacle. It is very important to protect the footballers," he said.
The notion of playing a World Cup in winter will have huge ramifications for domestic leagues all across the world and any move is likely to be fiercely contested.
Blatter, however, believes that an arrangement can be made.
"It's a question of the international calendar, but it's 11 and a half years away. This can be done. Where there's a will there's a way," he said.