Qatar flexible over World Cup plans
Qatar 2022 World Cup organisers have insisted they are prepared to play the tournament in summer or winter - and that they have the technology to cool stadiums and fan areas even in the heat of July.
There have been growing calls, including from UEFA president Michel Platini, to move the World Cup to the winter due to the extreme summer temperatures and FIFA president Sepp Blatter insisted the first move must come from Qatar.
A statement from the Qatar 2022 Supreme Committee said: "Various figures from the world of football have raised preferences for hosting in the winter. We are ready to host the World Cup in summer or winter. Our planning isn't affected either way, as we are committed to the cooling technologies for legacy reasons."
The Qatar statement insisted that cooling technology, powered by renewable energy, was feasible and has been in use since 2008 at the Al Sadd Stadium.
It added: "We are offering solutions to keep players and fans cool and comfortable - and developing those solutions to ensure that they are environmentally sustainable. 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. It will enable sport to be played 12 months of the year. The application of this technology is not limited to stadiums or sports venues. It can be applied in public spaces, so outdoor life can be enjoyed all year round, regardless of climate."
Blatter insisted on Thursday that FIFA has not lost control of the process surrounding the 2022 World Cup despite the increasing calls for the tournament to be moved to the winter.
There have been conflicting messages from FIFA with general secretary Jerome Valcke saying the executive committee can decide to move the tournament unilaterally if there is medical evidence that the extreme heat will be a health risk.
Blatter said: "FIFA's World Cup 2022 is a competition with 32 teams, 64 matches, and has to be played in June/July and this principle has never been put into question by the organisers. Therefore it still stands. The move must come from Qatar to the FIFA executive (to move it)."
Asked to clarify reports from an interview with a Spanish newspaper suggesting such a request could trigger a re-vote, Blatter added: "I am not a prophet but I have not used those words. I have only said it is Qatar that have to ask and I was then asked what would happen if they ask. The rest is interpretation. For the time being they haven't asked."
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