Qatar could lose World Cup, says FIFA official
Organisers in Qatar insist heat will not lead to tournament move
A senior FIFA official has said he believes the 2022 World Cup will not take place in Qatar, the planned host country, because of the risks posed by the hot weather. [SCROLL DOWN FOR AN UPDATE, WITH COMMENTS FROM QATAR 2022 ORGANISERS AND FIFA]
Qatar won the bid for the football tournament in 2010 and the event is widely expected to be a big boost for the tourism and hospitality industries, among others.
However, it has been mired in controversy since it was awarded the World Cup, with concerns over the treatment of workers in the country and allegations of corruption in the bidding process, as well as the hot weather.
"I personally think that in the end the 2022 World Cup will not take place in Qatar,” FIFA Executive Committee member Theo Zwanziger told Sport Bild.
"Medics say that they cannot accept responsibility with a World Cup taking place under these conditions.”
While organisers have insisted that they would cool stadiums, training areas and fan zones, the former German football chief insisted there are still health concerns.
According to a Reuters report on his comments, he raised the possibility of investigations by state prosecutors if a fan was to be out in a life-threatening position.
“They may be able to cool the stadiums but a World Cup does not take place only there," he said.
Both FIFA and the 2022 World Cup organisers have raised the possibility of the World Cup moving to the winter to avoid high temperatures.
However, this is likely to be met by strong opposition from domestic leagues around the world, which would be disrupted by the tournament.
UPDATE: 2022 organisers swiftly responded to Zwanziger's comments, insisting the tournament will take place in Qatar. "The only question now is when, not if," Qatar 2022 communications director Nasser Al Khater said in a statement. "Summer or winter, we will be ready."
FIFA also emphasised that Zwanziger was expressing his personal opinion and that they did not represent the organisation's views.