Brazilian footballer Edson Arantes do Nascimento, better known as Pelé, has dismissed claims the desert heat in Qatar will make it impossible to play football during the summer months when the Gulf hosts the World Cup in 2022.
“Of course you can play, no problem,” Pele, who has played in three World Cups, told Bloomberg news. Pele grew up playing for Brazilian teams and said he was used to playing in hot conditions and the recent death of Ecuadorian professional footballer Christian Benitez during his debut match with Qatari club Al Jaish was an anomaly and simply “one case out of a billion.”
The awarding the 2022 soccer World Cup to Qatar's desert state has caused much debate in the football world and many have questioned whether the heat, which can reach as high as 50 degrees Celsius in the summer, will be an obstacle to the staging of the tournament.
FIFA executive committee member and former head of the German football federation, Theo Zwanziger, said last month “it was a blatant mistake” to award the 2022 hosting duties to Qatar.
His views come as FIFA president Sepp Blatter repeated his view that the finals could not be played in the traditional summer slot.
Blatter said a month after the decision was taken that he expected the tournament to be moved to the winter. In July he said a summer World Cup in Qatar was out of the question.
Temperatures in Qatar in June and July regularly hit 40C (104f) or higher with 45C (113f) recorded last month.
"You can cool down the stadiums but you can't cool down the whole country and you can't simply cool down the ambience of a World Cup," Blatter told a conference in Austria.
"The players must be able to play in the best conditions to play a good World Cup."
Blatter had previously stressed that any request to change the timing of the 2022 World Cup would have to come from the organisers but said last week that the FIFA executive committee would meet to discuss the issue in October.For all the latest sports news from the UAE and Gulf countries, follow us on Twitter and Linkedin, like us on Facebook and subscribe to our YouTube page, which is updated daily.
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