Qatar World Cup 2022 organizers open to hosting the tournament in winter
The quadrennial competition is traditionally hosted in June and July
UEFA chief Michel Platini has already signalled he would prefer a November tournament
The decision to award Qatar the competition has been source of controversy for two years
Organizers of the 2022 FIFA World Cup in Qatar would be willing to host the tournament in winter if there was sufficient demand from the global football community.
The quadrennial tournament is usually hosted in June and July – during European soccer’s offseason – but there are concerns over the oppressive heat in Qatar in those months, though a switch to December or January would cause disruption to a number of major domestic leagues.
“Our position hasn’t changed,” a Qatar 2022 Supreme Committee spokesman told CNN.
“We’ve always reiterated that we entered the bidding race with the intention of hosting in the summer and are continuing with our plans to deliver a World Cup in the summer unless there is a unified consensus among the international football community for alternative plans.”
A potential switch has been a topic of discussion since Qatar was awarded the World Cup by world governing body FIFA in December 2010.
Michel Platini, the head of European governing body UEFA, told British newspaper the London Evening Standard he hoped the 2022 competition would be staged across November and December.
“We have to go to Qatar when it is good for everybody to participate. What is better for the fans?” said the UEFA president.
“In 10 years we can manage to decide how we can postpone the season for one month. January is difficult for the World Cup because you have the Winter Olympic Games.
“If we stop from 2 November to 20 December it means, instead of finishing in May, we stop in June. It is not a big problem. It is for the good of the World Cup, the most important competition in the world.”
Frenchman Platini voted for the tournament to be played in Qatar on the grounds it would take the World Cup to a region it had never been to before.
“I voted for Qatar because it was time to go to a country in that part of the world,” said Platini. “They bid five times.”
The former Juventus player, who was European Footballer of the Year in 1984, also denied he had elected to back Qatar after being asked to do so by French president Nicolas Sarkozy.
“One day I was invited to dinner by Sarkozy where there was the prime minister of Qatar,” said Platini.
“Mr Sarkozy never asked me during the dinner to vote for Qatar. They invited me to the dinner but they know I will be independent, that I will vote for who I want.”
The decision to award Qatar football’s biggest event has been surrounded by controversy, particularly over the world governing body’s decision to decide the fate of both the 2018 and 2022 hosts at the same time with the suggestion it encouraged voting collusion between bids – an accusation FIFA has denied.
FIFA itself has been plagued by allegations of corruption and bribery.
Concerns were also raised for gay fans planning on attending the tournament as homosexuality is illegal in Qatar, with FIFA president Sepp Blatter criticized for suggesting homosexual fans should refrain from sexual activity while visiting the country.