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Tuesday, January 25, 2022

FIFA medical chief expresses support for shifting Qatar’s 2022 World Cup to winter



Moving the 2022 World Cup from Qatar’s scorching summers months to more temperate times “would be a good thing,” Michel D’Hooghe, FIFA’s medical chief has said, as reported by the Associated Press.

“From a medical point of view, I can say we are concerned,” D’Hooghe said, adding his voice to what appears to be growing support for a shift of the games to winter. 

Earlier this month, both Union of European Football Associations (EUFA) president Michel Platini and FIFA Secretary General Jerome Valecke raised the possibility of changing the schedule so that players could avoid training and competing in Qatar’s infamously hot summers. 

D’Hooghe now says concerns about the weather go beyond the players, AP reports:

“The problem is of course the life beside all that. And the problem is much bigger for the other people surrounding the World Cup. The public that has to move from city to city and that has to live in temperatures that are very elevated.”

In response, FIFA President Sepp Blatter said that the issue remains “a problem without solution,” adding that “the movement must come from Qatar.” 

Meanwhile, Qatar maintains that it is not averse to changing the schedule of the games, if that is what FIFA and UEFA are pushing for.

However, such a shift could derail the “fan experience,” a Bleacher Report columnist argues:

January is not typically a time when people take off work as opposed to the summer. Additionally, countries in the Northern Hemisphere will be less likely to cultivate their traditions of watching the game outdoors on a big screen. They’ll be stowed inside trying to get some shelter from the cold….

(And) if the 2022 World Cup were moved to January, it would most likely take some attention away from the 2022 Winter Olympics. 

Whatever the decision, it must be taken within the next few years, Hassan Al Thawadi, secretary general of the Qatar 2022 Supreme Committee, has previously said.


Credit: Photo by DohaStadiumPlus

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