KEIR RADNEDGE in LONDON: World football must decide within the next two years whether it wants the Qatar World Cup in summer or winter – according to the man organising it.
Hassan Al Thawadi, secretary-general of the Qatar 2022 Supreme Committee, was speaking at the seventh International Sports Event Management conference in London.
Al Thawadi was ceo of the bid whose success shocked the world game with its success in the vote by the FIFA executive committee in Zurich in December 2010 at the expense of the United States, Japan, South Korea and Australia.
Within weeks of that vote, senior football personalities such as Michel Platini and Franz Beckenbauer had proposed that the finals be switched to the winter to avoid playing in the searing summer temperatures in the Gulf.
Beckenbauer was then a member of the FIFA exco, a position he relinquished in June 2011. However Platini, president of European federation UEFA, has remained as voluble as ever over his wish to see the finals switched.
His opinion was endorsed recently – in an interview with this writer – by Prince Ali of Jordan who isAsia’s own FIFA vice-president.
Asked for his own opinion, Al Thawadi said: “Our bid was always based on a summer World Cup and we are proceeding with planning for a summer World Cup in 2022. 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.”
In any case, he added: “Our legacy promises in term of developing cooling technology will continue, summer or winter.”
As for the crucial issue of the timing of a decision, Al Thawadi implicitly rejected suggestions that this might have to wait until after the next presidential election, in 2015, when incumbent Sepp Blatter might hand over to Platini.
He said: “Well have to look at it, probably, by 2013 1024, mainly because of the international schedule.
“Nothing is impossible. We could come to it in, say, 2107. But probably 2013 or 2014 would be the most realistic deadline for it because internationall sporting calendars are quite a complex issue so [a decision] makes sense by then.”
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