KEIR RADNEDGE REPORTS: Theo Zwanziger does not believe the 2022 World Cup finals will be staged in Qatar.
Zwanziger is a former president of the German football federation but was not a member of the FIFA executive committee when it voted in December 2010 to stage the finals in the tiny but super-wealthy Gulf state.
Indeed Zwanziger, who succeeded Franz Beckenbauer on the FIFA exco in May 2011, is a long-time critic of the decision. He has also been deeply involved in pressing the Qataris to reform their controversial, medieval labour laws.
Currently FIFA is oversratures.eeing an inquiry into how to switch the finals away from their traditional summer date to avoid the searing desert tempe
Zwanziger issued his latest sceptical salvo in an interview with Sport Bild Plus. He said: “Personally, in the end I believe that the 2022 World Cup will not take place in Qatar.”
He based his latest critical assessment on the difficulties in changing the date of the finals and thus the health risks to players and fans.
The Qataris have promised massive investment in cooling technologies for venues. Experiments in training zones and fan fest sites have already begun.
Qatar 2022 officials have always expressed confidence in their staging of the World Cup which would be a breakthrough event in the Middle East and the Arab world.
However the 69-year-old lawyer added: “The doctors say that they could not be responsible for the consequences of a World Cup in such summer conditions.
“The World Cup does not take only in the stadia. Fans will come from all over the world and the first life-threatening incident would immediately lead to public prosecution. Nobody in the FIFA executive committee wants to be responsible for that.”
Qatar’s organising Supreme Committee rejected Zwanziger’s prediction in the firmest of tones.
Communications director Nasser Al Khater said: “Qatar will host the FIFA World Cup in 2022, despite comments of Dr Zwanziger, which reflect his personal opinion and not that of FIFA.
“The only question now is when, not if. Summer or winter, we will be ready. We have proven that a FIFA World Cup in Qatar in the summer is possible with state-of-the-art cooling technology. We have demonstrated that our cooling works in outdoor areas beyond stadiums.
“This summer we welcomed fans in Doha to an open-air Brazil 2014 Fan Zone with temperatures cooled to a comfortable 22 degrees Celsius.
“The evolution of environmentally-friendly cooling technologies is an important legacy for our nation, region and for countries with similar climates – promising to expand the reach of hosting major sporting events to countries where it was never thought possible before.”