KYIV: UEFA president Michel Platini has said that the 2022 World Cup in Qatar should be played in wintertime, to avoid the blistering heat of the Gulf state’s summer season.
The significance of Platini’s comment is that he is current favourite to move over and become of president of world federation FIFA – which controls the World Cup – if Sepp Blatter carries through his promise to step down in 2015.
However his comments may not endear him to some of the powerful leagues and associations within his own constituency who would oppose seeing their traditional autumn-to-spring calendar and promotional and broadcasting contracts upset.
Platini came out more strongly than ever before in favour of a winter World Cup in an interview with Al Jazeera. He said he was prepared to move Europe’s club competitions to accommodate the switch to a cooler time of year but, of course, he may not be UEFA president in four or five years’ time when a decision is needed.
Platini was speaking in Kyiv, the Ukrainian capital, where the draw for Euro 2012 was being held.
He said: “How can people go to Qatar in 60 degrees in June? If people can’t come to enjoy it, it’s not good. So when is the best moment for this beautiful World Cup? It is the most important thing in football and we have to play it at a good moment. If we play in wintertime, this will not be a problem.
“They said they will [cool] the stadia but people will come to Qatar for two or three weeks. If it is 60 degrees they will never leave the hotel, which is not correct. That is why we need to think of what is the best moment for the World Cup, because it is the best moment of the year in football.”
Platini also said that, while not everyone approved of the decision to organise the tournament in the Gulf, he had voted for Qatar. He added: “It’s nice nice to be in another part of the world where people never organised a World Cup.”
Qatar had promised to spend billions of dollars on building air-cooled stadia to combat summer temperatures. However last month Hassan Al-Thawadi, organising secretary-general, had stated that Qatar had no preference as to which time of year FIFA chose for the finals.