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Friday, January 7, 2011

Footballers’ union hits out at Qatar 2022 win

By Joanne Bladd
Doha earlier this month secured a surprise victory by beating Australia, Japan, South Korea and the United States to host the 2022 World Cup
Doha earlier this month secured a surprise victory by beating Australia, Japan, South Korea and the United States to host the 2022 World Cup
The 2022 World Cup in Qatar should be moved to winter to sidestep the country’s searing summer heat and safeguard players, FIFPro, the world footballers’ union, said on Tuesday.
Doha earlier this month secured a surprise victory by beating Australia, Japan, South Korea and the United States to host the World Cup, which is traditionally held in June and July.
But FIFPro has hit out at the decision, which will see players and fans face temperatures as high as 50C.
“It is not sensible to award a World Cup in the summer to a country with an average temperature of 41ºC in June and July, a midday temperature of 50ºC and above all, extremely high humidity,” said Tijs Tummers, secretary of FIFPro’s technical committee, in a statement.
 “Tourists are advised not to travel to Qatar in the summer months. Inhabitants of Qatar leave the country en masse during this period.
“The summer months in Qatar also do not provide suitable conditions for a festival of football such as the World Cup should be, including for the supporters.”
Qatar has pledged to build nine air-conditioned stadiums, each costing billions of dollars, where the temperature can be maintained at 27C.
However, FIFPro questioned whether the stadiums offered a suitable solution to the heat.
“The organisers have guaranteed that the temperature inside the stadiums and at the training centres will be reduced to 27C by means of air-conditioning. That is all well and good, but it obviously does not fit in with ecological thinking, which we expect to be even more widespread by 2022,” Tummers said.
When Qatar was announced as host, German World Cup-winning captain and coach Franz Beckenbauer raised concerns over the health risk the heat could pose for players.
FIFPro is now lobbying for the tournament to be shifted to the winter months, a suggestion first raised by FIFA president Sepp Blatter.
FIFA has said any move to reschedule the games must be led by Qatar.
“We will of course have to take a careful look at the international match calendar, but FIFPro does not foresee any insurmountable problems [with moving the games],” Tummers said.
“Space will have to be made for the tournament, even though many countries already have a winter break.
“If you look at what happened last weekend with weather problems in Europe because of heavy snowfall, you could see this as an advantage rather than as a problem. And it might perhaps turn out that the players will be fitter at the start of a winter World Cup than was the case last summer at the World Cup in South Africa.”