Qatar says ready for summer or winter World Cup

Reuters News
|
Posted: Mar 05, 2015 3:39 PM

By Steve Keating

NEW YORK (Reuters) - Qatar will be ready to deliver a World Cup no matter when it is played, the Gulf state's 2022 organizing committee chief Hassan Al Thawadi assured on Thursday.

With FIFA set to vote March 19 on a recommendation for a World Cup staged over the cooler months of November and December to avoid the searing June-July heat, Al Thawadi removed the Gulf state from the debate.

"We have always said right from the very beginning that we are ready for whatever the football community decides," Al Thawadi said at the Leaders Sport Business Summit in midtown Manhattan. "When the decision is made we will comply with it."

With snow blanketing the Big Apple the thought of a winter World Cup seemed an outrageous idea. Soccer World Cups have always been staged over May, June and July since the first in Uruguay in 1930.

The latest a final has been contested was July 30 -- in Uruguay in 1930 and England in 1966. The earliest final was played out on June 10 in 1934.

June and July are not viable for Qatar, where temperatures routinely exceed 40 degrees Celsius (104 degrees Fahrenheit), and the working group's proposals would see the 2022 World Cup final contested a couple of days before Christmas.

The November-December option targets the coolest months, and avoids a clash with Ramadan and with the Winter Olympics which are slated for January-February 2022.

"While I understand the concerns and issues people may have in the end it is a decision the football community has to make," said Al Thawadi.

A passionate Al Thawadi underlined that there is still much work to be done over the next seven years with the construction of 70 hotels and other infrastructure projects while five stadiums are in different stages of construction.

There is also much work to be done polishing Qatar's image which has been tainted by allegations of corruption in the bidding process and human rights abuses of foreign workers brought to build venues.

"We have always maintained that we have full confidence in the integrity of our bid," said Al Thawadi. "We cooperated fully and very transparently with (FIFA investigator) Michael Garcia but did it overshadow or stop our plans, it didn't.

"From day one we started delivering on our plans. It never stopped us, it never delayed us and it was never an obstacle for us."

(Editing by Frank Pingue)