Platini not against winter 2022 World Cup in Qatar

Published Dec. 10, 2010 3:03 p.m. ET

UEFA president Michel Platini says he's OK with the idea of shifting the 2022 World Cup in Qatar to winter from summer to avoid extreme desert temperatures.

After a UEFA executive committee meeting in Prague on Friday, Platini said it would be easier to organize the World Cup in January instead of June.

''It's true that if we talk about the World Cup in the Gulf in January, that would be easier than to play in June,'' Platini said. ''On that I agree, and why not? It's possible.''

Qatar received the 2022 World Cup last week, despite fears the intense heat poses a serious health risk if the tournament is played in summer.

But Platini defended the choice of Qatar, saying players already had to face extreme heat at the 1994 World Cup in the United States.

''The temperature in Dallas was 45 degrees (113 F), if I'm not mistaken, in 1994 and nobody criticized the U.S. at the time,'' he said.

Such a change would conflict with the schedules of Europe's major domestic leagues plus the Champions League, and Platini said that would be among a number of issues needing to be addressed.


''How much rest time will we give to the players after the World Cup?'' he asked.

''If we play in January, well, will it be February off and then we start again in March?''

Platini said FIFA still had 12 years to solve the issue.

''We will discuss this heavily in the months and years to come.''

Platini's remarks came a day after Asian Football Confederation general secretary Peter Velappan said that cooling down stadiums and training grounds with air conditioners was ''not a solution,'' and warned that some European teams may boycott the World Cup due to the heat. Qatar's summer temperature can top 40 Celsius (104 F).

Also, FIFA executive committee member Franz Beckenbauer said this month that making a one-time change to the European league fixtures to allow the World Cup to be played in winter in Qatar was a cheaper solution than air conditioning all stadiums.

At the same time, Platini was positive about Thursday's proposal by FIFA president Sepp Blatter that Qatar's neighboring countries could host games in 2022.

''Maybe, it would be a World Cup for the entire Gulf,'' Platini said.

FIFA is breaking new grounds by sending the World Cup to Eastern Europe and the Middle East for the first time, with Russia to host the 2018 cup in efforts to expand from its traditional strongholds.

FIFA's choice was greeted with shock, in particular in England and the United States, and sparked allegations that the entire process was too secretive and open to corruption.

Platini said ''any of the bids could organize the World Cup perfectly'' but Russia and Qatar hit a sensitive issue when they asked in their presentations: ''When will we have our chance, when will we be able to shine?''

''Maybe, the members of the executive committee felt it was a good opportunity to go to that part of the world ... the region that has never hosted the World Cup,'' Platini said.