By Andy Sambidge
Senior official says decision on summer or winter event set to be made in next two years
A decision on whether Qatar will host a summer of winter World Cup tournament in 2022 should be made in the next two years, a senior official has said.
Qatar 2022 chief Hassan Al Thawadi said he was happy to accommodate either date for the tournament but was continuing to plan for a summer event.
“Our bid was always based on a summer World Cup and we are proceeding with planning for a summer World Cup in 2022,” Al Thawadi said in comments published by World Football Insider.
“However, I know there are prominent members of the football community who have raised preferences for the winter, so whatever FIFA and the world football community comes up with, we’re happy to accommodate.”
Al Thawadi, secretary general of the Qatar 2022 Supreme Committee, was speaking at the International Sports Event Management Conference in London.
Since Qatar won the rights to host the event in December 2010, senior football figures including UEFA president Michel Platini have suggested a switch to the winter to avoid playing in the searing summer heat in the Gulf.
“We’ll have to look at it, probably by 2013, 2014, mainly because of the international schedule," Al Thawadi was quoted as saying.
“Nothing is impossible. We could come to it in, say, 2017. But probably 2013 or 2014 would be the most realistic deadline for it because international sporting calendars are quite a complex issue so [a decision] makes sense by then,” he added.
Concerns about soaring summer temperatures in Qatar has led to the idea of moving the competition from its traditional slot in June and July to December and January.
In September, organisers of the Qatar 2022 World Cup said they had no intention to switch the tournament from summer to winter.
"Our position hasn't changed... We've always reiterated that we entered the bidding race with the intention of hosting in the summer and are continuing with our plans to deliver a World Cup in the summer unless there is a unified consensus among the international football community for alternative plans," a statement said.