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Monday, January 10, 2011

Blatter 'expects' winter Qatar World Cup

FIFA president Sepp Blatter has said for the first time in public that the 2022 World Cup in Qatar is likely to be held in January.

Football - World Cup

07/01/2011 - 20:32 - Updated 08/01/2011 - 02:30

Blatter expects winter WC - FOOTBALL - World Cup 

Speaking to a media roundtable in the Qatari capital before the opening match of the Asian Cup, he said: "I expect it will be held in the winter.
"We have time to look at this question, it is still 11 years away but we must decide the most adequate period for a successful World Cup which means January or the end of the year."
Summer temperatures in Qatar can soar to over 40 degrees Celsius while those in the winter months are far more comfortable.
Blatter said that the Qatari football association is now responsible for organising the World Cup and they would work closely with FIFA in the years ahead to guarantee a successful tournament.
"Do not forget there is still 11 years to go and although we have the basic conditions of their bid for a June and July World Cup, the FIFA executive committee is entitled to change anything that was in the bid.
"When you play football you have to protect the main people, the players."
When the decision was announced last month to award Qatar the 2022 finals - the first time the event has been held in the Middle East - many observers were concerned the intense temperatures there which can top 50 Celsius would be unbearable for players and fans alike.
In January, the temperatures are usually between 20 and 30 Celsius.
Any switch to winter, though, may take years to be agreed as it would clash with many of the domestic leagues - particularly the powerhouse European ones.
The Qatari FA has yet to establish its organising committee for the finals and, technically, it will be up to that committee to submit to FIFA a request to change the dates.
However, a switch could yet be prompted by FIFA itself.
Any move to winter could have a massive impact on other global sports with major events like the Winter Olympics and the Australian Open affected.
Blatter rebuffed suggestions that there was any corruption at FIFA, insisting it was totally transparent in all its dealings. Blatter was then asked how that could be the case if Qatar was awarded the finals when FIFA's own inspection team criticised its bid and said it posed a health risk.
"You can have the best report and the worst report but finally it's human beings that make the decision," he said.
He also repeated his pledge to continue taking the World Cup to new territories, citing India as a possible future host.
"Back in the 1980s when we started this process under Joao Havelange, it was always a wish to make football universal," he said.
"We have been to Africa and again it was time to go to new territories. It was all a strategy within the double decision for 2018 and 2022. It's a logical move."
Australia had bid against Qatar and Blatter admitted he had no idea why their bid only received one vote last month.
"I know they were shocked, bitterly disappointed, but I don't know why it happened," he said.
Blatter, who will be 75 in March, was elected FIFA president in 1998 and is standing for a fourth term as FIFA president later this year.