BRUSSELS: FIFA president Sepp Blatter turned up in Belgium to celebrate Michel D’Hooghe’s 25 years’ of service to the world football federation and was upstaged by the Belgians’ contribution to the 2022 World Cup debate writes KEIR RADNEDGE.
D’Hooghe, head of FIFA’s medical committee, was a member of the executive committee which voted to award the finals to the Gulf state of Qatar, notwithstanding a warning which he, above all, would have heeded about the searing summer temperatures.
UEFA president Michel Platini wants the 2022 finals switched from the usual summer to a winter date for the sake of the players but D’Hooghe, asked for his opinion, agreed – but only in part.
D’Hooghe told local media that his concern about the heat did not so much reflect a worry for the players, who wil play and train in air-cooled stadia, but for the fans.
“Personally, I think it would be a good thing if we could play this World Cup in better temperatures than in full summer in Qatar,” D’Hooghe was reported as saying by Associated Press.
He added: “From a medical point of view, I can say we are concerned. The problem is the life beside all that [matches, training] – and it is a problem which is much bigger for the other people surrounding the World Cup. The public that has to move from city to city and that has to live in temperatures that are very elevated.”
FIFA president Sepp Blatter has said any proposal for change should come from the Qataris; the Qataris say it should come from FIFA.
Jerome Valcke, FIFA’s secretary-general, suggested a fortnight ago that FIFA could take the initiative if it were faced with a medical analysis reported a serious threat to health.
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