Dubai: Asian Football Confederation (AFC) President Shaikh Salman Bin Ebrahim Al Khalifa has lashed out at criticism surrounding Qatar’s hosting of the 2022 Fifa World Cup, accusing fault-finders of creating a controversy to undermine the country’s efforts to put on a good show.
Shaikh Salman, who is widely respected for his frankness when it comes to discussing Asian football, said: “I don’t think there is any controversy. I think it is a controversy that has been created by some.
“If people talk about the weather, I don’t think the weather is as bad as when we played in Mexico (1970-1986) and the United States (1994), when we all saw temperatures of 100 degrees [Fahrenheit, 38°C].
“I don’t think playing at night in June would be as bad,” added the Bahraini royal, who was speaking to Gulf News after being honoured with the 2013 Arab Sports Figure gong at the Mohammad Bin Rashid Al Maktoum Creative Sports Awards in Dubai this week.
“But if all the people agree on moving it to a different time, and all the stakeholders are in agreement, I think we are ready to host it. Whether it is in the summer, winter, spring or autumn, we have no issues with that.”
The Bahraini, who became president of the AFC in May last year, is set to chair a Fifa team of football executives who will evaluate whether to move the 2022 World Cup from summer to winter. The group will confer with World Cup stakeholders and Fifa business partners to ascertain what time of year is best suited to staging the event in the wake of concerns that Qatar’s summer temperatures could soar to 50 degrees Celsius.
However, the team will not be required to submit a detailed report until after the 2014 World Cup in Brazil, with 2015 being seen as the likely target for delivery.
Meanwhile, the Qatari Football Federation, which plans to use sophisticated cooling technology in stadiums, training pitches and fan zones, says it will go ahead with plans to host the mega event, which includes the construction of four stadiums, several hotels and other necessary facilities.