FIFA president: Move 2022 World Cup in Qatar to winter

By Larry Hartstein | Senior Analyst

Spain won its first World Cup in 2010, beating the Netherlands in the final. (USATSI)

FIFA President Sepp Blatter wants to move the 2022 World Cup in Qatar to the winter to avoid summer temperatures that can hit 122 degrees, the Associated Press reports.

Such a move, which would require approval from FIFA's executive committee, would affect European soccer leagues. They'd have to adjust their schedules.

"If this World Cup is to become a party for the people, you can't play football in the summer," Blatter said Wednesday at a conference in Austria. "You can cool down the stadiums but you can't cool down the whole country."

The tiny Persian Gulf emirate is building air-conditioned, open-air stadiums that operate on solar power as part of its $200 billion outlay on the World Cup. The head of Qatar's organizing committee told the conference that although his country bid for a summer tournament, it could accommodate a switch.

According to the AP, Blatter told a French newspaper it would not be rational to stage the first World Cup in the Middle East in the summer.

"We have to protect our partners, our commercial partners, our TV partners. We have to be tough on this," Blatter added at the conference.

On next year's World Cup in Brazil, Blatter conceded Brazil might have been the wrong choice, given the massive anti-government protests during the just-completed Confederations Cup.

"To me, these protests were like alarm bells for the government, the senate, the parliament,” Blatter said, via the AP. “They should work on it so that this is not going to happen again. Though protests, if peaceful, are part of democracy and therefore have to be accepted ... we are convinced the government, and especially the president, will find the words and the actions to prevent a repeat. They have a year to do so."

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