Asian chief joins calls to switch Qatar World Cup to winter

FURTHER ridicule has been heaped upon Fifa’s decision to award the World Cup to Qatar after one of Asian football’s top officials said there was “no way” the country could host a summer tournament.

Qatar was last week picked to stage the tournament in 2022 but questions have been raised over whether the Middle Eastern state’s extreme climate, with temperatures soaring to over 45C in the summer, could pose a danger to players and fans.

And Asian Football Confederation general secretary Peter Velappan has added to calls for the competition to be held during the winter despite Qatar’s proposals to build air-conditioned stadiums to combat the summer heat.

“Qatar is a nice country but there is no way football can be played in June and July there. No player will ever want to play in these conditions,” said Velappan. “I would strongly recommend that Fifa reschedule the tournament to January, February. Fifa is obliged to do everything possible to provide the best for the teams and the football fans.”

Fifa executive committee member Franz Beckenbauer (left) has called for the tournament to be moved to January and February, but general secretary Jerome Valcke has defended the world governing body’s decision and insists that the tournament will take place in the summertime.

“Certain people, like Franz Beckenbauer, said that we should change the calendar and put this World Cup in a winter period,” said Valcke.

“But the invitation to tender was to play this particular World Cup in June, and that’s how it was done and countries replied on this basis.”