Qatar "can host a World Cup in the summer": exec

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Nasser Al-Khater, Supreme Committee Communications Director of Qatar 2022. (Getty Images)

Nasser Al-Khater, Supreme Committee Communications Director of Qatar 2022. (Getty Images)

The Qatar World Cup can be hosted in the summer, despite scorching temperatures, an official from the organising committee has reportedly said.

“Let us be honest, we can host a World Cup in the summer,” World Cup 2022 Supreme Committee communications director Nasser Al Khater told Al Jazeera during an interview in Brazil.

“We are waiting on the task force to come back and make the recommendations.

“Our plans won’t change, we are going to be ready to host the World Cup in 2022, whether is the winter or summer of 2022.”

Football world governing body FIFA has faced pressure to reschedule the tournament to avoid the worst of the desert state’s heat, but others have called for it to be relocated altogether.

Countries who lost the 2022 bid have said they would sue FIFA if the tournament was moved, while broadcasters and sponsors also have voiced opposition, as well as the European premiership leagues, whose own schedules would be impacted if the World Cup was held in the Northern Hemisphere’s winter.

It would be the first time the World Cup was held in the Middle East and Al Khater said that would be celebrated during the tournament.

“These two billion people [who watch the tournament] are going to be from various cultures [and] various ethnicities, [there’ll be] various people from different parts of west Asia, the Middle East [and] North Africa and I think it is going to be rich and vibrant,” Al Khater said.

“That will be the time when people are going to realise that they are mingling with people in the Middle East [and] celebrating the common language of football, which is going to be absolutely great.

“The Middle East had three attempts [to win World Cup hosting rights] prior to ours, and this is just a continuation for us of trying an attempt to host the first World Cup in the Middle East and we’ve succeeded and therefore we stay committed to what we’ve said, that we want truly for this to be a World Cup that represents the Middle East, that people experience a Middle Eastern culture, not just the Qatari culture.”

Al Khater also commented on continuing allegations of corruption during the bidding process for the World Cup in 2022, as well as 2018.

FIFA is investigating a series of specific allegations as well as the entire process.

“First of all it is actually an investigation into the bidding process of 2018, 2022 World Cup, Qatar is part of that, Russia 2018 is part of that, the whole process is part of that, everybody involved is part of this investigation. So it is unfortunate that people single out Qatar every time they discuss it, which is absolutely not the case,” Al Khater said.

“We’ve been true to what we have said in the past, our statements that we always put up – [that we] have held ourselves to the highest ethical standards. We believe in it, we are confident of it and we are confident of how we’ve behaved.”

Al Khater distanced the relationship between Qatar’s World Cup bid team and Mohammed Bin Hammam, a Qatari football executive who has been accused of using a $5 million slush fund to buy support for his bid to become FIFA president as well as to support the Qatar 2022 bid.

“Bin Hammam was an executive committee member like the rest of the 23 executive committee members that were present at the time,” Al Khater said.

“We had to engage with him, as we had to engage with everybody else. So definitely there was engagement with him,” Al Khater said.

“Was he part of our bid? He was not part of our bid. Did he represent us? Not at all; we have to remember that we had to engage with him, we had to convince him and it is not a secret that at the very beginning he was quite skeptical about a World Cup in Qatar. But then when he saw the merits in a compact World Cup, he saw the merits on what we can give back to the world of football, I think just like we convinced the others, he was convinced as well.”

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