World Cup

AFC chief supports moving 2022 World Cup to winter

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Qatar would have no problem organizing the 2022 World Cup in July despite the heat but moving the tournament to the cooler winter months would be better for the players, the head of the Asian Football Confederation said Tuesday.

Mohamed bin Hammam, a Qatari national who is also a FIFA executive committee member, said a winter tournament would ensure players are "in better shape" and wouldn't be "exhausted" after completing a grueling season that can run up to 60 games. A January tournament would also be easier to organize, since it would coincide with the winter break for most leagues, he said.

"If the competition were held in June and July, it will perfectly organized by the host," Bin Hammam said, noting Qatar has already proposed to air condition stadiums and other facilities. "If the competition would be moved to January, it will be a sort of win-win situation for all the parties."

Bin Hammam, who spoke on the sidelines of the Globe Soccer conference in Dubai, is the latest football executive to support a winter tournament over concerns that players and fans could suffer from Doha's summer temperatures, which routinely exceed 40 degrees Celsius (104 Fahrenheit).

Earlier this month, FIFA president Sepp Blatter and general secretary Jerome Valcke said moving the Qatar matches to winter deserves study. It could protect players from heat and show flexibility for future bid cities.

Valcke, attending the Club World Cup in Abu Dhabi, said that switching the schedule would make it possible for a wider range of countries to bid for the World Cup - which traditionally takes places in June and July - in the future.

Still, he said it is "not so easy" to stage a winter World Cup since it would require changing the international calendar - including possibly the year before and after the 2022 tournament - and getting the support of domestic leagues and national federations.

Qatar was awarded the 2022 World Cup this month despite concerns that the heat concerns. Soon after it beat out the United States, Australia, Japan and South Korea for the bidding rights, football executives started suggesting that it might be better move the 2022 tournament to January when it is much cooler in Qatar.

FIFA executive committee member Franz Beckenbauer was the first to suggest the idea, and he was followed by UEFA president Michel Platini.

Valcke said Qatar has not formally requested changing the timing of the tournament, and bid officials have not said anything publicly about whether they would support such a move. Until now, Qatar has only promised FIFA that stadiums, training venues and areas for fans to party will be cooled with solar-powered air conditioning.

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