- World Cup
Qatar: World Cup can be held in summer
The general secretary of the 2022 World Cup local organising committee in Qatar has insisted the tournament can still be held in its usual summer slot despite the claims of Jerome Valcke, which have caused consternation throughout the game.
FIFA secretary general Valcke provoked a major stir on Wednesday when he told Radio France the tournament would be held between November and January due to the extreme heat of the Qatari summer - although FIFA later issued a statement to insist no decision has been taken over the matter.
However, Hassan Al Thawadi told L'Equipe that, despite average temperatures breaching the 40°C barrier in Doha during June and July when the World Cup would traditionally be held, the elements can be conquered.
He said: "I don't think it's impossible. Yes, it is hot here during the summer. It's not the ideal period to visit the country - no-one will deny that - but look at the World Cups organised in Mexico in 1970 or 1986, or that in Spain in 1982 or the USA in 1994.
"Also look at the World Cup scheduled for this year in Brazil and you cannot deny that the question of very hot weather, sometimes comparable to that here, has never been an issue in Word Cup history. Hasn't the tournament passed off normally each time? And to again bring up this question of the temperature is to ignore the cooling technology that we'll be installing in stadia and fan zones."
Though the Qataris have consistently claimed they will be able to cool venues to allow games to be played in acceptable conditions, a number of influential football figures have called for the tournament to be staged in winter when the thermometer drops to around 25°C.
UEFA president Michel Platini has been one of the loudest of those voices, though he was reported as saying by L'Equipe that he failed to comprehend the timing of Valcke's comments given FIFA's Executive Committee had agreed to look into the feasibility of making the change before deciding on whether or not to do so.
"During the Executive Committee meeting at the start of October, it was decided to launch a consultation process throughout the whole of football, and that no decision would be taken before the 2014 World Cup in Brazil," Platini said. "It was also agreed upon not to speak about this subject, so I don't see why it's being talked about publicly."
Reaffirming his own beliefs, he added: "It's a personal position that I already expressed three years ago. But all the football families have to be consulted before a decision is taken."
Platini's sentiments were echoed by European Club Association chairman Karl-Heinz Rummenigge, who told the dpa news agency he was "very surprised by the statements of the FIFA general secretary," adding: "Sepp Blatter personally told me in Marrakech that during the year 2014 there will be a consultation process and only after that will the FIFA Executive Committee make a decision."